How to use “cohorts” to reach customers without 3rd party ad cookies

May 10, 2021 | 3 minute read
Ryan Boh
Activation & Identity Product Strategy at Oracle
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Google’s recent announcement brought a sense of closure to a decade-long assumption that cookies would be deprecated. While some players in the ecosystem may be frustrated by the level of effort and due diligence required to adjust to Google’s new processes, there are plenty of others helping the industry navigate these changes with new, exciting solutions. This includes LiveRamp's Authenticated Traffic Solution (ATS) and The Trade Desk's Unified ID Solution 2.0.

Regardless of where you stand, audience targeting on the open web and identity are going through an evolutionary period.

Ultimately, all these companies are trying to create ways that enable advertisers to capture consumers. The problem: disagreements on the approach are rooted in an environment where success is tied to campaign key performance indicators (KPIs) that clients ask their agencies to hit. To complicate further, these KPIs are not universal, and each campaign is different. So, the tactics often change, but the underlying challenge remains––reaching and capturing consumers.

Cohorting 101: targeting customers without 3rd party cookies

What is cohorting? It’s people with common traits or interests that are grouped as a privacy-safe proxy to safeguard individual personal information. For example, a cohort can be built around “dog lovers.” Whether it’s a custom audience segment based on a seed or an off-the-shelf cookie segment, they’re both essentially cohorts tied to one or more attributes.

It can be difficult to capture a granular perspective on what makes up a cohort because the data collection methodologies are often clouded by a combination of multiple data sources. When those audiences are activated, success is measured most against a client’s KPIs.

However, cohorting may take place with both known, personally identifiable information (PII)-based data assets, and anonymous data assets, like contextual signals found on webpages.

The industry continues to demand more transparency for how targeting data assets are derived. And it’s also clear that anonymous data is going to have much greater importance given evolving global regulatory requirements including the General Data Protection Regulation (GDPR) in Europe and the California Consumer Privacy Act (CCPA) in the US.

In Google’s case, there’s no shortage of known or anonymous assets, but consumer confidence in its measurement criteria will determine the success of its cohorting approach.

Where other identification data comes in

A workaround for known data is to potentially tap into panel data governed by consumer-centric data practices. Panels can be helpful because they provide a microcosm of where households or individuals are spending their time on the open web.

Without having a sample panel, the best way to capture interest-based cohorts is with a contextual targeting solution. This will align mindset to content and decision aligned with a brand’s KPIs.

The ability to converge a panel demonstrating online behavior and a contextual understanding of each webpage gives rise to new targeting tactics. These methods establish dynamic cohorts based on common behaviors across sites that might message the right type of customer without having individual customer information.

Oracle Advertising’s approach to audience targeting

Oracle maintains an agnostic approach in working with industry players to help brands and agencies reach their advertising goals. As a trusted independent leader in this space, our Audiences solution and powerful ID Graph from Oracle BlueKai, coupled with our contextual intelligence solution, uniquely position us to help advertisers, agencies, platforms, and publishers navigate these industry shifts.

Our teams are actively testing the concept of dynamic, de-identified website interest-based cohorts. Our aim is to usher in the next generation of targeting "arrows" to add to the advertisers' proverbial quiver, while also providing guidance and a consultative approach as the industry continues to evolve. This gives way to unique, innovative opportunities for advertisers to harness effective and efficient methodologies.

To learn more about the future of identity and reaching your target audience in a shifting digital landscape, check out the following resources:

Ryan Boh

Activation & Identity Product Strategy at Oracle

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