Third-party cookies, once widely used by marketers to track consumers online and target and measure digital ad campaigns, have fallen out of favor with international regulators keen to protect consumer privacy.
Since Google originally announced its intention to phase out the use of third-party cookies on its market-leading Chrome browser, the ad tech industry has been developing ways to ensure that marketers and publishers can continue to deliver effective and measurable advertising, while respecting user choice and rights through consent.
We’re now entering a critical phase for the future of the open internet. Google’s cookie deprecation project is finally shaping up to become a reality in 2024.
While the search giant has introduced alternative solutions such as the Privacy Sandbox, its walled gardens mean advertisers and publishers still lack transparency and control.
Rather than being seen as a threat to independent publishing, the current transformation of the ad tech marketplace should be embraced as an opportunity to build a better internet, an internet where everybody wins – people, brands and publishers alike.
The key to the future of digital advertising is collaboration with other organizations that have the crucial customer insights needed to target and measure campaigns. Rather than try to compete directly with the heavyweight walled gardens, the wider ad tech community should start to draw on the experience and data resources of unconventional partners, such as the leading telcos. By doing so, ad tech can ensure alignment with privacy regulations and build better first-party data solutions together, delivering real value and scale to marketers while maintaining the trust of customers.
Take, for example, Utiq, a joint venture backed by four of Europe’s largest telecom operators: Deutsche Telekom, Orange, Telefónica and Vodafone. In response to the absence of scaled, unambiguously consented audience data, the Utiq technology was created to enable responsible digital marketing.
While large, non-European players are currently collecting, disseminating and storing data at scale, the Utiq platform is specifically designed to give consumers more control, transparency and protection of their data. Utiq operates as an Authentic Consent Service, where only the explicit consent of consumers gives brands the opportunity to communicate with them via publishers and media houses.
Relevant brands and publishers do not need to authenticate or access user identities or their data to deliver personalized experiences. Consumers can give or refuse consent with a single click and revoke any other consent already given. Launched earlier this summer, Utiq is currently available to advertisers via ID Fusion, Adform’s universal identity solution, and it is already proving that it can provide the same functionality and performance as third-party cookies.
A promising future
Where data is collected and how it is used remains a complex, confusing and evolving topic for marketers. Against a backdrop of ever-changing international privacy regulations and consent standards, we should agree as an industry that every consumer should have the ability to give informed consent and retain full control over their data.
Utiq is an example of a technology solution and business that could be an important step in creating a European-standard approach and a clear win for digital ad buyers across Europe.
Earlier this year, in a pilot test carried out in Germany in conjunction with PwC, Utiq was tested and showed a 3.75x higher addressable audience in Safari and Firefox compared to addressable audiences without first-party ID. The Utiq approach also improved frequency by 25% compared to other non-Telco first-party ID solutions. In addition, 100% of traffic generated by the test campaign was found to be fraud-free.
These results suggest marketers and publishers have a very promising future to connect with consumers in the post-cookie world. As digital advertising continues to evolve, I expect that we will see even more organizations collaborate to build solutions like Utiq – ones that respect consumers while providing advertisers and publishers with the insights and performance they need.