Cookieless World

Cookieless Retargeting—How Will It Work?

Cookieless future
(Last Updated On: February 2, 2024)

In January 2020, Google announced that it will end support for third-party tracking cookies in the Google Chrome browser “within two years,” signifying major changes for retargeting Google Ads. In June 2021, this timeline was extended to 2023, while June 2022 brought yet another extension to finally land in the 2nd half of 2024. Moreover, Google Chrome declared withdrawing 1% of 3rd-party cookies in Q1 2024 to provide a reliable environment for testing.

Other browsers, such as Safari, Firefox, and Edge, have already stopped supporting 3rd party cookies for retargeting ads. But from the marketer’s point of view, the fact that Google will also follow this trend for retargeting Google Ads is important due to Chrome’s over 60% market share. Therefore—how will retargeting work without cookies?

In this article you will learn about:

  • The most important things happening in the environment of ads based on third-party cookies
  • The challenges waiting for marketers in the cookieless future
  • The shape of cookieless retargeting and how will retargeting work without cookies
  • The industry’s approach to retargeting without third-party cookies

Table of Contents:

What is happening in the environment of ads based on third-party cookies?

Cookies were designed to give personalized settings for internet web users and have been used in advertising to identify consumers and target advertising to the relevant audience. Relevant advertising is crucial in providing tailored experiences to consumers. Third-party cookies have become a key piece of technology for ad tech vendors to be able to support the most common advertising use cases.

One of the crucial parts of a marketer’s strategy and frequently used advertising use cases is to target users from the bottom part of the sales funnel. It’s called retargeting and is purely based on the advertiser’s 1st party data.

The possibility of cross-site audience identification is based on third-party cookies.

It means that to participate in the auction, to bid for the user, and then as an implication, display an ad, a third-party cookie for retargeting is essential. This solution will not be supported for cookieless retargeting Google Ads.

Retargeting in a cookieless world – will it be possible to use first-party data without the possibility of using third-party cookies?

YES.

Third-party cookies will indeed not be supported; however, these cookies are just a marker allowing advertisers to use their first-party data for targeting and retargeting the right audience to serve relevant ads. As we are involved in the process of the changes from the very beginning, we can explain what the two most popular approaches to the cookieless world are about.

Let’s start with an approach fully supported by the leading browser (Chrome)— a set of privacy-preserving marketing APIs, called Privacy Sandbox, aiming to maintain advertising use cases while offering privacy guarantees to internet users. We would like to start with this particular approach because it is potentially more scalablejust based on the fact that the Privacy Sandbox will officially be supported by Chrome.

  • Granular first-party advertiser’s data (event level) will remain the same as we know and understand today.
  • Based on this data, technology vendors will have to create user groups with similar characteristicsas identification has been assigned to a particular user, and now identification will be implemented to a group of users.
  • Information about the group where the user is assigned will be stored on the user’s device.
  • Within each campaign, we select interest groups, so the recommendation engine is personalizing ads based on the advertiser’s data.
  • During the auctionon the publisher’s websiteauction participants will be able to bid for users from groups which are important to the advertisers they are representing.
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What are the main challenges of cookieless retargeting?

The two biggest challenges that had to be addressed were the creation of personalized ads for a group of users and the ability to precisely estimate users’ value within the groups.

To address the problem of personalized ads for a group of users, RTB House has introduced Product-level TURTLEDOVE, which was fully implemented (with no changes) and is now an integral part of Google Chrome’s Protected Audience API (shortly PAAPI, which is one of the APIs included in the wider Privacy Sandbox set). PLTD (Product-level Turtledove) is allowing marketers to:

  • Display relevant product recommendations.
  • Dynamically optimize creatives.
  • Preserve the personalization user experience in adsalmost mirroring the current state.

To address the problem of the ability to precisely estimate users’ value within the groups, RTB House has introduced Outcome-based TURTLEDOVE, which was also fully implemented in Google’s PAAPI, and it is allowing marketers to:

  • Expand the possibilities of bidding functions.
  • Evaluate each user individually.
  • Efficiently allocate marketing budgets.

This approach is keeping user-level bidding precision while maintaining interest group privacy guarantees.

If you have any questions or comments regarding the article, please let us know.

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