Let’s get some clarity starting with what a cookie is.
A cookie is a small text file created by a server and stored on the user’s device at the time of browsing a site through a browser.
It contains information of that particular user, such as language preference, frequency of access to a particular site, or presence of items in the shopping cart (in case we refer to an e-commerce). Very important anonymized information for the purpose of clustering, analyzing, and subsequently implementing marketing strategies.
It is necessary at this point to distinguish between two types of cookies: first-party and third-party.
Why this detail? Let’s cut to the chase!
- Cookies 1st party: First-party Cookies are created directly on the site’s web server, at the time a given user enters the navigation and performs actions (e.g. logs in and enters a password). They are tied exclusively to the site on which they are created and are therefore not accessible in an environment outside that site. They are used in order to personalize the browsing experience.
- 3rd party cookies: third party cookies are created by different domains than the site the user is browsing at that particular time. They can be read either on the site on which you are browsing at that precise moment, or by all other sites as long as they can read the server code that produced it. They are very useful to be able to serve personalized advertisements and recognize the interests and accesses of a particular user on specific sites (e.g., someone who logged in on a beauty site will have a higher relevance in the advertising service for a beauty brand).
Although third-party cookies refer to anonymized data there seems to be a risk/possibility that the user’s identity can be traced back to them with some certainty. As the technological influence within our lives increases, the privacy issue becomes more and more relevant and especially attentive; this is why some browsers such as Safari (23.72% market share) and Firefox (2.86% market share) have long since disabled the use of third-party cookies.
Considering the market shares of the aforementioned browsers, the impact would seem limited.
But what could happen to the return, in terms of ROI, of all those companies that also base their marketing strategy on third-party cookies and operate on Chrome browsers (62.16 percent market share)?
Lack of detailed information would lead to targeting inefficiency such that new means and strategies would have to be reconsidered, or rather, considered.
Market share browser ref. https://www.similarweb.com/it/browsers/
What might be the solutions? what does the market propose?
It was conceivable to assume that the market leaders, the main holders of the most relevant identifier on the Web (e-mail address), would proceed to create what are now called Walled gardens.
Walled gardens are in a nutshell a closed environment within which certain marketing strategies can still be implemented but precisely, exclusively within that environment. At the same time, specialized companies have sprung up that, as a solution to the loss of third-party cookies, propose the creation of new identifiers, more or less interoperable but still tied to a given technology so by definition they too are limited.
What can be a solution that is not constrained to a particular technology and is interoperable for most of the stakeholders?
There is the possibility of campaign targeting without taking into account what information is released by the user during browsing. We refer to Contextual Targeting. In this case, the user’s interest is detected not through the information collected through cookies or identifiers, but through the specificity of the content that the user is delving into at that particular moment.
Always remember that the main goal of an advertising campaign is to be able to intercept a user at the right time, in the right place, and on the right device. The combination of these factors combined with other specifics will give us the assurance that we are submitting the right advertising content to the right user. Reversing the problem, let’s explain it further: instead of measuring a user’s interests probabilistically we intercept him or her at the time when that same user is delving into precisely that particular topic/topic obviously producing different benefits.
- It allows better targeting of campaigns in no-cookies contexts as well as in no-consent contexts since, the moment the user does not accept a publisher’s CMP, we lose the possibility of interception via cookies or Identifiers.
- Contextual targeting mode is based on the analysis of profiled pages and content based on a granular and fully customizable taxonomy making even very fine targeting possible.
- It allows the interception of the right user regardless of the verticality that we think might be akin to the brand being communicated (e.g., food world advertiser investing in food vertical publishers).
- It allows us in a sense to broaden the scope by bringing in sites that would not normally be included but instead host relevant content with respect to the target audience.
Let us try to give an example of what is described:
We are gluten-free pasta manufacturers, so we refer to a niche market related to a specific and specific need.
Assuming the loss of third-party cookies, the difficult interoperability of identifiers, or the non-acceptance of CMP, the advertiser would be left with no choice but to select those publishers that generally pertain to the food world, but risking an inevitable budget leakage.
The question we need to ask is: How many users, compared to the total number of visitors to a given publisher, might have that specific need (gluten free)?
We cannot know, it is still a tiny percentage compared to the totality, hence the scattering.
What if, on the other hand, it were possible, beyond a specific publisher, to be certain that a specific user at that moment is actually reading content related to gluten-free pasta, perhaps even with a financial economic slant, not necessarily food?
Here is where we see the potential of contextual targeting. A methodology, fine, accurate and that does not take into account some of the most important technological limitations that our market is facing.
Main targeting modes, which one to choose?
Now that we have seen what the main targeting modes are, let’s get some clarity with respect to the main features of each type of targeting and the advantages it offers.
Each type of targeting has a specific coverage and capacity.
We can therefore come to the conclusion that with respect to the speed with which the rules of the game change, it is always advisable to think about a strategy that is hybrid and inclusive of different solutions, environments and technologies in order to maximize the effectiveness of the strategies of all authors involved, from publishers to advertisers.
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