I. Executive Summary
The advertising landscape on the open internet is changing rapidly. Google may have called extra time on the demise of the third-party cookie, but brands, agencies, publishers, and technology companies should remain focused on finding a long-term alternative. This will avoid swapping a mad-dash in the second half of 2021 for a mad-dash in the first half of 2023. This Quantcast Perspective will address several major trends and identify solutions for the future.
The internet is becoming increasingly devoid of third-party cookies, as Safari, Firefox, and others have already deprecated them. While Google has postponed the deprecation of third-party cookies until 2023, there is value in finding a third-party cookieless approach now to enable effective advertising in aforementioned environments.
There are already fewer cookies than you might think
After General Data Protection Regulation (GDPR), top US state legislators are advocating for data privacy legislation. According to PwC, 44% of CEOs rank data privacy as one of the top three policies that will impact their businesses. There is a lot of ambiguity in how these regulations will manifest themselves.
Data privacy legislation will get more complex before it gets simpler
Today, there is a mind-boggling variety of companies involved in delivering online advertising: Demand Side Platforms (DSP), Data Management Platforms (DMPs), Supply Side Platforms (SSPs), and so on. Third-party cookies have been the thread that stitched this complex system together. Without them, the fabric begins to unravel. We will see consolidation–not just fewer companies in each category, but also fewer categories.
The ecosystem is ripe for consolidation
Relevance is intertwined with measurement (are my ads working?) and attribution (which of my ads are working?). Third-party cookies have been central to how audience planning, campaign activation, measurement, and attribution work. Alternative ways to measure success will be essential to preventing our online world from getting cluttered with even more irrelevant messages and, worse, more publishers dying off through lack of funding.
Measurement and attribution are key
The most successful online advertising campaigns in environments devoid of third-party cookies will run on a mix of emerging alternatives, including first-party data, consent, contextual approaches, cohorts, identifiers, and more. The challenge for brands, agencies, and publishers is to find a partner with the AI and machine learning technology capable of ingesting, understanding, and acting on this complexity in real time.
Our approach is grounded in industry standards, interoperability, and innovation. By leveraging our unique AI and machine learning technology to harness multiple audience signals, we’re pursuing our mission of championing a free and open internet. Read on to find out more about our perspective on the way forward.
There is no single right answer
II. Introduction: A Changing Advertising Landscape
The open internet is the most powerful mechanism for free expression our world has ever seen. Anyone with access can share their point of view, their content, and their creativity. Today, billions of people around the world have widespread, free access to information, entertainment, news, education, and so much more–all due to a free and open internet
The open internet is a force for good
Of course, great content is far from free to produce and distribute. Advertising underpins the viability and vibrancy of this free and open internet, and advertising technology facilitates advertisers to help fund the vital work internet publishers do in producing content that engages, entertains, and satisfies the curiosity of audiences worldwide.
Advertising funds the open internet
The advertising landscape on the open internet is changing rapidly and has reached a critical juncture. The demise of the third-party cookie is inevitable; consumer privacy regulations are in full force globally, with GDPR and California Consumer Privacy Act (CCPA) prominent among them; tech companies with a vested interest in their own walled gardens–such as Google Search, YouTube and Apple App Store–are gaining relative advantage and are instituting changes that make buying advertising on the open internet harder.
The open internet is at a crossroads