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Advertising in the Open Internet: Now and in the Cookieless Future

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(Last Updated On: September 25, 2023)

The Open Internet and Walled Gardens are 2 significantly different concepts, but together they make up the foundation of the Internet. What will this vast space look like in the cookieless future?

In this article, you will learn about:

  • Open Internet, Walled Gardens, CTV, and OTT
  • The difference in the user’s profile between the Open Internet and a Walled Garden
  • The efficiency of each channel in the cookieless world

Table of Contents:

The Internet is a vast space, but it’s not all the same  

The Open Internet is a virtual network, built on the concept of neutrality in access to any information across the World Wide Web (WWW). It is equally accessible for all users without any restrictions, apart from having a computer or telephone connected to the network. The open internet includes every online property, such as web pages or apps, that does not fall under the walled garden definition.

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Walled Gardens are enclosed environments, bounded by technology, built to control the user’s access to media information or other services. It aims to create a monopoly or a secure information system. Walled Gardens require personal information or even the purchase of a specific device before allowing the user to access their products or services. To simplify it, any closed platform or ecosystem significantly controlled by the tech provider can be called a walled garden.


A Connected TV (CTV) is a device enabling video streaming – thanks to the connection to the network (examples: Apple TV, Xbox, or PlayStation) – while an “over-the-top” (OTT) is an internet-based solution, providing audio, film, or television stream. It is different from traditionally understood cable television media services (OTT examples: HBO GO, Netflix, or Amazon Prime Video).

How do marketers allocate advertising budgets?

Social Media is the most common example of a Walled Garden. As the Harrison Poll’s research shows, user intentions are different when they visit the Open Internet and Social Media. Social Media users visit such sites for self-entertaining purposes or, very often, to deal with the FOMO phenomenon.

*FOMO (Fear of Missing Out) means the fear that something exciting and satisfying happens without our knowledge, while other people may participate in it.

Moreover, the very same research shows that 81% of users turn to the Open Internet when looking for products to buy. This should be an especially important signal for e-commerce brands.

However, the report proves common industry knowledge: budgets are allocated heavily in favor of Walled Garden advertising, even though the Open Internet is visited more frequently, and the time spent on sites is longer.

Illustrating open web vs walled gardens

Reasons for advertising in the Open Internet

The amount of time spent and user intentions are solid reasons for advertising in the Open Internet, but there are many more:

  • With Walled Garden advertising, CPMs are typically higher, while campaign performance is worse.
  • In the Open Internet, ads allow publishers to finance content without asking for personal information in exchange. This is especially important in the current landscape, where Privacy Protection is a huge topic
  • The possibilities of adjusting the advertising context and ensuring brand safety are much higher in the Open Internet: from white- or black-listing entire sites to choosing specific keywords or articles, thanks to the increasingly more sophisticated NLP engines
  • Essential for performance campaigns, ads for specific products are displayed in particular places where the user was looking for them.
  • The Open Internet also gives the advertisers and ad tech vendors the ability to draw specific, individual-level conclusions from the data for campaign optimization.
  • Retargeting in the Open Web is based on the advertisers’ own data, which allows for certainty that the right users see the right ads.

Will these advantages still apply after cookies?


Most of the Open Internet advantages will remain because of the industry-wide efforts to build alternative technologies, independent of cookies.

Thanks to RTB House’s previously described Product-Level TURTLEDOVE proposal, ads will still deliver specific product recommendations, maintaining today’s recommendation effectiveness of 94.5%.*

The precise, individual-level estimation of the users’ value will be made possible by Outcome-Based TURTLEDOVE, which keeps the current efficacy of 99.98%*, while providing mathematical privacy guarantees.

Importantly, contextual targeting and brand safety mechanisms will remain fully supported, because these mechanisms do not rely on cookies directly.

Make sure that you use the best advertising solutions for the Open Internet because it will remain an important advertising medium in the cookieless world!

If you have any questions, comments or issues, or you’re interested in meeting with us, please get in touch.

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