Looking at the end of third-party cookies through the lens of adtech disruption

July 7, 2021 | 4 minute read
Eric Amrine
Content Manager
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How will the industry respond to the looming deprecation of third-party cookies? Historically, the adtech industry   has innovated to address market changes. Most recently, it adjusted to comply with consumer privacy requirements for the General Data Protection Regulation (GDPR) and the California Consumer Privacy Act (CCPA).

Change is a constant in adtech. And this latest identity crisis will likely foster more refined techniques, enabling advertisers to better track, target, and follow consumers as they peruse the internet, streaming services/connected TV (CTV), and other digital communications.

Retracing the road to third-party cookies

For decades, data from third-party cookies has created a dependency among advertisers to target consumers—and programmatic advertising engendered a widespread search for identity.

While it may take time for the industry to regain its footing in a post-cookie environment, remember how much it has advanced since AT&T bought the first banner ad in 1994. With every change—including search engine optimization (SEO), ad servers, and more—the industry pivots and rolls onward.

Oracle, for one, has not waited for the industry to find a workaround. Instead, we’re collaborating with industry standards organizations to help shape a model for a consented network that benefits consumers and marketers alike.

Landscape of opportunity:  re-identifying identifiers

More than likely, the industry will entertain a suite of potential replacements for third-party cookies, some taken together for a comprehensive approach.

Data signals come in all shapes and sizes. Advertisers can use email addresses, customer and device IDs, loyalty and references numbers—among other smart identifiers—to cross digital channels and platforms, and have meaningful conversations with the right consumers at the right time.

What’s next for online identifiers?

Regardless of the technologies used to reach relevant customers, brands and publishers need to know that their portfolio of solutions will continue to safeguard consumer privacy and their ad campaigns can realize their full potential.

The best path forward involves sound channel and identity strategies for both activation and measurement, assisted by ID-free techniques and fueled by machine learning. Gartner and other industry analysts continue to recommend non-personal marketing techniques as a potential path.

Identity graphs will play a huge role here with their ability to incorporate inputs across multiple channels and formats, including: cookies and the Identifier(s) for advertisers (IDFAs), registration-based IDs, customer information behind walled gardens, video streaming services, first-party data, and second-party data (first-party data from a partner or other source that you access).

Oracle believes that no single solution can meet the industry’s unique needs to reach customers. However, a portfolio approach that includes contextual intelligence can give advertisers new ways to reach the people they care about in a privacy-safe way. A flexible portfolio approach might incorporate the following:

  • Audience identifiers: Attached to real people and personal consent across the digital ecosystem
  • Contextual intelligence: Technologies that support forward thinking and anonymous targeting capabilities attached to page content and consumer mindset
  • Measurement: Solutions with only limited reliance on personal identifiers—and eventually, none
  • Oracle OnRamp: Self-serve onboarding that supports first-party offline data (e.g., email) into the digital media ecosystem via cookies, mobile ad IDs (MAIDS), CTV, etc.
  • Oracle Data Enablement: Allows for a better understanding of first-party data by overlaying third-party data and marketing and advertising segmentation
  • Oracle SaaS for Analytics: Leverages third-party data for a richer understanding of campaign engagement
A portfolio approach to identify advertising audiences without third-party cookies
Identifiers beyond third-party cookies will play a greater role in the advertising mix.

Contextual intelligence advantages

You no longer need solutions that depend on third-party cookies or mobile IDs because contextual intelligence can enable advertisers to reach audiences based on content consumption.  

Contextual technologies help advertisers find their intended audiences and users with similar profiles based on the brand-relevant content they’re viewing. Similarly, advanced measurement tools will continue to provide viewability, attention, and brand safety measurement across platforms, regardless of changes to cookie policies.

Consider these advantages of contextual intelligence:

  • Contextual intelligence represents an ID-free targeting solution, which is inherently privacy-friendly, as scrutiny on data collection policies has reached new heights.
  • Data-informed contextual intelligence informs a deeper understanding of relevancy for a particular advertiser and target audience via advanced modeling techniques.
  • Audience and context can form complementary solutions. 
  • Continued investment into over-the-top (OTT) and connected TV (CTV) video streaming, and other platforms, will help the industry leverage advanced contextual intelligence solutions across TV/video ecosystems.

Not an identity crisis

Proactive advertisers will expand their network of consented, registration-based integrations (such as Facebook, Amazon, and Google), connected devices (e.g., CTV, In-Car, RFID), and publishers that install paywall/authentication systems (e.g., The New York Times). Brands that can reach consumers in a consented manner and deliver audiences via contextual intelligence—in place of signals like cookies and MAIDs—will be well-placed for the future of digital advertising.

Learn how Oracle’s identity solutions can help advance your business.


Eric Amrine

Content Manager

Eric knows the value of robust copy. And short sentences. He wrote two bestselling travel guides about the wonders of the Pacific Northwest, and kept his day job in marketing communications penning blogs, landing pages, and C-suite biographies for premier organizations.

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