Ad Targeting in a Cookie less Environment

Google announced sometime in Jan 2020, that it will shut third party cookies on Chrome by 2022 to fundamentally enhance privacy on the web.

Google has already limited cookies without labels to first-party contexts with the release of Chrome 80, wherein web developers are now needed to label third-party cookies in cross-site requests using the “SameSite” attribute so that Chrome has more control over how these cookies are used.

Other Browsers like Safari and Mozilla’s Firefox had started blocking third-party cookies by default in 2017 and June 2019, respectively.

What does this mean to a Publisher?

A large number of Ads shown to a user in today’s date are based on Third-party cookies which track user data for precise behavioral and location targeting.

Rendering third party cookies obsolete will have a direct impact on the Ad revenues of a publisher site. The Publisher CPMs will drop, since advertisers who were willing to pay a premium earlier for these audiences, will not have a reason to bid higher to capture and show ads to those audiences, resulting in a direct impact on CPMs and eventually Overall revenues.

Programmatic Advertising which is growing YoY will be face a direct impact, since the core of programmatic is dependent on serving ads to relevant audiences. 

What does this mean for an Advertiser?

This is a big deal for many brands, since most of their advertising budgets have been streamlined over the past couple of years to target specific, premium and niche audiences.

Third party cookies give brands insights which is very useful when designing and strategizing an Ad campaign.

This will also pave the way for Brands to invest in studying and implementing strategies across their own customer data using First party cookies instead of relying heavily on Ad Tech companies for targeting.

Alternatives to Third Party Cookies:

Now that we have understood the impact of third party cookies on the Advertising ecosystem including Publishers and Advertisers, here are a few alternatives that could gain momentum in the coming years

  • Contextual Advertising:
    • What: Contextual Advertising enables targeting ads based on the content of the website, instead of targeting based on a user’s profile.
    • How: This type of targeting requires analysis of text, images and video of the context in consideration and then coming up with relevant keywords for advertising and brand safety is of upmost priority here.
    • Some Partners:
      • Criteo
      • Silverpush
      • Appier
Contextual Targeting
  • Fingerprinting:
    • What: Fingerprinting is a technique used by Publishers/Advertisers to identify people who have interacted with their adverts.
    • How: It works on publicly available characteristics like Device, Location and other relevant data points wherein they create a ‘Fingerprint’ of the user.  However, users can change their fingerprints by switching browsers, installing or de-installing new fonts, connecting to a VPN, etc.
  • Targeted Ads in Email newsletters:
    • What: Only once an individual has shown interest in your portal/services and want to keep themselves updated, they sign up for Email newsletters; which is also an indicator that they want to see more of their content.
    • How: Based on the subscribed list of users, you can segment them into 2-3 different audiences and send out content with relevant ads basis their engagement and interests.
    • Some Partners:
      • Liveintent
      • Syndicate Ads
      • Powerinbox, etc.
Email Newsletters
  • In – House Audience Segments:
  • What: Third Party Cookies primarily help you create audiences and target the relevant audiences. Post the disabling of 3rd Party cookies by majority of the Broswers, Publishers will start relying on their own data to create audiences and target them.
  • How: First – Party data can be collected by Publishers which can then be utilized to create audiences and then target them for Ad campaigns.
  • Social Media Ads:
  • What: Majority of the Social Media Platforms like Facebook, Twitter, Youtube, etc. provide Ads platform which have the most broad to niche level targeting and users can be targeted basis Location, Device,  Zip Code, Interests, etc.
  • How: Social media platforms allow you to launch ad campaigns or target promoted social media posts to people in your industry, CEOs, CXOs, Freelancers, Artists, etc giving end number of targeting options along with cost effective solutions depending on the platform


Even though the ecosystem will be majorly affected as soon as Chrome shuts third party cookies, there will be enough and end number of Publishers and Ad-Tech companies who are already preparing for this and there will be more advanced solutions which will eventually define the way forward for the advertising industry.

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