Published on MarTech Series by David de Jong, CEO of Screen6
The AdTech industry has invested a massive amount of time and energy in salvaging the utility of cookies as a means of helping advertisers better find their target audiences. Unfortunately, all of the current industry efforts fall flat when it comes to creating better experiences for consumers, advertisers and publishers, and that’s due to one basic reason: They don’t solve for cross-device.
Our industry can’t expect antiquated cookie syncing technology or an industry cookie consortium to solve its consumer identity challenges. Consider these basic shortcomings of both approaches:
Cookie Syncing Is Siloed
Cookie syncing is a process that attempts to map disparate pools of cookies to one another between two platforms, such as a DSP and an SSP. However, cookie syncing takes place within one browser on a single device. That means cookie syncing only accounts for a fraction of the customer journey and completely neglects consumer behavior that occurs across multiple browsers and across multiple devices.
The limitations of cookie syncing are amplified by the following:
- Each app with a mobile web view on a single phone has a siloed cookie jar. This means any time a user clicks a URL in an app and visits the site, a new cookie is generated.
- The average person has 60-90 apps installed on their phone, meaning 90 different browser environments with 90 different cookies (if browsed within the app).
- Because these are third-party cookies, they depreciate quickly; a single device could have 90 new cookies every 24 hours.
Consortia Do Not Solve for Intra-Device Connectivity
The challenges of cookie syncing are a known pain point within the industry. A number of consortia that have come and gone have attempted to create broad-reaching cookie pools in recent years, in an effort to help reduce the challenges of cookie syncing between SSPs and DSPs. Unfortunately, even if a cookie consortium were to achieve 100 percent buy-in across the industry, which is increasingly unlikely, given industry politics, their efforts would not deliver on the end goals of advertisers.
Today’s consumers roam freely across devices, not to mention through various browsers and apps on a given device. Efforts by today’s ID consortia neglect this basic fact. ID consortia do not solve for intra-device connectivity and should not be viewed as identity resolution. What these working groups are actually presenting is identifier resolution.
Most consortia assign a new identifier to an individual’s phone when they are within different browsers and apps. This means many new identifiers can be generated on a single device, which happens especially with in-app mobile web view. Additionally, each of these new identifiers is considered third-party, and half will depreciate in the first 24 hours. And no consortia processes identifiers fast enough to accommodate for this initial loss.
The Need for a New Solution to Old Challenges
It’s time for our industry to stop heavily relying on antiquated cookie syncing technology. True identity resolution cannot be realized without a robust cross-device component. By this standard, any solutions focused on cookie syncing will come up lacking.
Solving for consumer identity requires a holistic cross-browser, cross-device approach. The right solution must be able to tie cookies to more persistent identifiers, such as device IDs, that solve for intra-device connectivity. Furthermore, it must be able to process data fast enough — ideally in real-time or at least within 24 hours — to account for cookie depreciation.
It’s time for our industry to stop sitting around and expecting one of today’s ID consortia will solve its challenges for it. The needed solution lies elsewhere.