FRIDAYS WITH FROST: Caught in the “Cookie” Jar

Introducing Fridays with Frost, where we sit down with Simpli.fi CEO Frost Prioleau to get his insight on the week in AdTech. Follow him on Twitter @phrossed for a daily dose of programmatic perspective.  Q: Everyone seems to be concerned about a sort of an impending “cookie apocalypse”, a sort of ad tech Armageddon where cookies will be blocked or eliminated all together. Is this something we should be concerned about? A: There has been a lot of talk about the future of cookies lately and that has really been driven by a few things: threats by browsers to block them, potential privacy legislation, the shift to mobile where cookies are used far less frequently, and also some pretty tough cookie laws that were passed over in Europe a few years back. It’s concerning in the sense that a good portion of the online advertising ecosystem uses cookies.  However, we’ve known a change was coming for a long time, so the industry has been actively working on ways to operate in a post-cookie world. Q: Darren Herman over at MediaKitchen sounded a similar note on his blog this week. His take was, “If we don’t have cookies, we’ll have brownies,” meaning the industry will come up with a new way of managing sessions. So what does a brownie look like? A: Well, assuming you are not talking about the type that is square and chocolate, the industry has been working on a few alternatives. One is the concept of proprietary identifiers like Google AdID. Another would be fingerprinting. In this scenario, companies use data to determine characteristics of browers and devices without using a cookie. Still another option is IPv6. This could provide a unique IP for essentially each device that could be used as an identifier. Q: So, you’re saying we don’t have to worry that half the Lumascape will disappear if the concept of the cookie goes away? A: I think that’s a fair statement. Europe provides an example of how the online advertising industry adapts. In Europe, which has a thriving programmatic advertising industry, publishers implemented “cookie walls”—which required users to opt-in to cookies prior to accessing their content. The online advertising industry is one of the most innovative industries around, and will adapt, probably with a combination of all the things we just discussed.  Also, contextual targeting and highly precise geo-targeting represent options that advertisers can use without needing cookie-like functionality. Q: So it will be like a whole dessert bar of ways to manage user sessions will be available? A: Something like that. Now you’re just making me hungry.