Display ads - death of 3rd party cookie

Ryuzaki

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For anyone interested in this topic, here's a couple of threads we had in the past as this problem was looming on the horizon:
The funniest thing about this is, despite Google not being the ones to spearhead this effort, they did jump on the bandwagon pretty hard (of course, because they can provide a solution - the Privacy Sandbox).

What this ultimately means, in my opinion, is that Google is telling you, me, advertisers, networks, and exchanges that we're naughty and shouldn't have access to private data for retargeting. So you need to use their solution, and pay for it by making it so Google is the only one with access to that private data. Typical consolidation of power crap.

Meanwhile, this morning I got an email from Adsense asking me to log in and allow Google to use 1st Party Cookies to essentially keep the revenue from tanking. One hand has to dodge the other hand as it flails a knife around.
 

CCarter

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I am not familiar with Adthrive and Mediavine display Ads. Why would the earnings drop?

Can someone explain it to me like I'm a five year old? Are those display networks using retargeting cookies to follow users around the internet and display ADs to them?

Why would they need to use retargeting cookies? Or even drop cookies?
 

Ryuzaki

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@CCarter, it shouldn't have a great impact. Their targeting is based more on site vertical and niche, as well as national origin of the user. The campaigns they run are far more like billboards and creating familiarity and awareness than actually worrying as much about clicks and immediate conversions.

What did have an impact was the EU's cookie compliance crap and then California following suit. But when it impacts everyone, the bidding doesn't change as much as you'd expect, you know.
 

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Is it likely load speeds of sites using those networks will improve as a result?
 

Ryuzaki

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Is it likely load speeds of sites using those networks will improve as a result?

In a negligible amount. You might get one less HTTP request, a tiny one at that, coming from a 3rd party resource. But one out of 100's (sometimes 100's coming from one single ad) isn't going to make any difference that matters.
 
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Their targeting is based more on site vertical and niche, as well as national origin of the user. The campaigns they run are far more like billboards and creating familiarity and awareness than actually worrying as much about clicks and immediate conversions.

Not in my experience, I believe they definitely use these kinds of cookies, how and why would they not when it offers superior targeting and greater ad spend? My Adthrive rep has told me they are looking at solutions, but I wanted to know if any other display publishers were nervous.
 

Ryuzaki

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Mediavine had a post about this on January the 14th, 2020 as well showing they've been aware of it for a long time, but the post doesn't say anything about a solution other than the same "Privacy Sandbox" by Google. It's more about "we're committed to keeping your revenue maxed out like we did with GDPR."

The AdThrive post is saying that small publishers (us) feel the pain more than big guys like Google, Facebook, Microsoft, and Pinterest because they have their own data they can use first-party already within their walled gardens. Same goes for big news sites that get people to log in like New York Times.

They talk about "Initiative #1 - The Privacy Sandbox" again. Looks like they're all going to cave to Google for now. Makes sense since they're the biggest exchange everyone is partnered with anyways, as much as I hate it.

They then talk about "Initiative #2 - Email Identity Solutions". They're talking about using hashed email addresses as a means of identifying users while holding less data, which is the point of all of this. Bad solution, since we all need to collect email addresses and this isn't going to happen at any reasonable conversion rate. They're moving forward with this though as their current non-Google, non-W3C solution.

The point they're trying to make is like Mediavine's... they have our back in this post-cookie world that's coming.

Maybe Google's Problem-Reaction-Solution will save us from the problem and reaction they helped create.
 

mikey3times

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People have been making money by publishing and advertising for a long time. Newspapers, billboards, radio, TV, Internet. We’ll get through this.

There have been lots of debates about whether tracking makes a difference in advertising success. I haven’t gotten into understanding either side, but perhaps we are about to find out.

Honestly, if we weren’t in the “selling ads” space then I think most of us would be happy that we weren’t being tracked. Hell, I assume most all of you use ad and tracking blockers! I do. How hypocritical of me.
 

CCarter

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Alright I think I got it, Adthrive is using the cookies to follow users around and segment them. Then they serve up display ads according to the segments they've figured out for each user therefore getting better conversions for the advertisers.

So an example is if a user visits a ton of Audi sites (Jesus, y though?), they know this user is into cars as a hobby and can target them to buy a better car, cause Volkswagens aren't really that great (someone's going to get the troll). I think that's why cookie tracking is so critical for these display AD networks. I have no idea why I couldn't figure this out earlier.

What's so crazy is I have Disconnect, the Firefox Enhanced Protection on, so I barely see any ADs - thank god. And Firefox clears my cookies and data every time I close my browser - a feature that is missing from Chrome on purpose.

As @mikey3times said - when you consider billboards and radio barely have any tracking these networks will be fine.
 
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Will it have any impact of typical affiliate cookie such as Amazon and other networks? If so how it would change the game?
 

Ryuzaki

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Will it have any impact of typical affiliate cookie such as Amazon and other networks? If so how it would change the game?

No, Amazon doesn't drop a cookie until you hit their site. That's a first party cookie, used only on the first party site, and is completely fine in regards to privacy.

The way Amazon knows which account to credit the sale to is through URL parameters like &tag=yourname-21.
 

Ryuzaki

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We have some news on this front coming out of Mediavine: Contextual Advertising 2.0: Pioneering the Privacy-First Open Web

The summary is that, instead of "privacy sandboxes" and other types of user-tagging, Mediavine and Gum Gum have already been working on bringing contextual advertising back.

Some of you newer guys may not know this but back in the day, especially with Adsense, ads were targeted based on the keywords on the page. The ad networks would read your content with a bot and serve ads related to the topic of the content, rather than targeting specific users based on their previous traffic patterns.

To really boil down what this means, advertisers won't target individuals any more. They'll target audiences, not only of a website but of a topic across many websites. They won't know who's in the audience either, unlike how it is now.

Mediavine wants to get the contextual advertising capabilities out of the private marketplaces and into the open market where all of the big exchanges have access to the keyword data. They're trying to get the IAB and Prebid.org to work this into their current systems so all of the exchanges not only have access to the keyword data but have it before the ad request is even made, so there won't be any slowness like there was in the past where the data was sent on the request and then a bid was made.

This is the most promising path of all. I'm not sure why it didn't occur to me, either. It's the most obvious solution, and if everyone gets on board before the deadline it could stop ad rates from falling off the cliff as bad as they would otherwise.
 

Ryuzaki

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Here's another update on this front from Google, who's leading one of the initiatives that's supposed to be the answer to this problem that they themselves created. The ole Problem / Reaction / Solution, all invented by the same people.

Building a privacy-first future for web advertising

There's the link right above^

Basically, they're still moving forward with the Privacy Sandbox and introducing a lot more acronyms, one of which being FLoC - Federated Learning of Cohorts. They say using the FLoC can nearly replace third-party cookies and offer advertisers 95% of the conversions for the same dollar value.

The question is obviously what the heck an FLoC really is. It's... get this... essentially another version of the cookies they want to get rid of. But this time, they promise, if you give Google control of the entire ecosystem, they'll keep these cookies anonymous and only store "interest-based" information.

And then essentially, what makes it a "cohort" is you'll be stuffed in an interest-based category alongside thousands of other users. So you get anonymity by hiding amongst the crowd on a Google ad server, and advertisers bid on the crowd and not the individual. I think conversions will be measured in a similar fashion with these cohorts broken into "more likely to convert" bids? Hell, I don't know. I can't be assed to read this post too deeply.

They even have some Trust Token API that lets Google verify a real human's identity (without telling the advertiser! Because this is all about privacy!)

This is supposed to stop people from getting fingerprinted too, by user agent, OS system, Browser version, resolution, etc. Not sure how.

Anyways, you can see that I think this isn't a big deal to us as publishers or advertisers, but I think it's a nefarious power grab by Google under the guise of doing it for the public good.
 
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TBH as long as my display ad revenues don't decrease when all this comes to fruition I'm happy. Maybe an increase is even on the cards if whatever new tech is implemented can target (anonymously) better?