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Advertising in the post-cookie era - impacts and perspectives

Advertising in the post-cookie era - impacts and perspectives
In France, web actors are obliged to provide users browsing their sites with a tool for providing information and collecting (consenting or refusing) information on the use and purposes of processing their personal browsing data. Indeed, the CNIL has given all French actors until March 31 to comply with its latest recommendations. This includes the implementation of a CMP (Consent Management Platform) whose role is to collect the user's choices regarding the use of the various tracers set up on the site and to give the user the clear and obvious possibility of accepting or refusing them. At present, it is estimated that 30-50% of users refuse third-party cookies, i.e. cookies that are placed on the site on which the user is browsing and that are operated by third-party companies. Although this seems to pose significant problems for many web actors, it is only the first steps towards a complete and total disappearance of third-party cookies - in 2022. What are the impacts and prospects of such a revolution? Are there any alternatives so far?

Third-party cookies and their use

Third-party cookies have been around since 1994. This 27 year old technology has never (or almost never) evolved. Today, although aging, this solution is used for many purposes:

  • Track users and analyze data to build profiles
  • Have access to a browsing history
  • Behavioral ad targeting and capping
  • Measure performance (visits, impressions, conversions, attributions...)

Thus, third-party cookies have been massively adopted by the online advertising industry. 

As for advertisers, they use cookies in order to know their audience, to track the user's path and to be able to retarget them with personalized advertising. 

Publishers use third-party cookies to track page impressions, ad clicks (and conversions) and to display targeted advertising to their audience.

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The solutions

Contextual targeting

Socio-demographic targeting

Reverting to the preferred targeting of traditional media? This is one of the solutions that is being seriously considered. Socio-demographic targeting is widely used by television, radio, newspapers... and will probably (re)become the favourite targeting of the web. Indeed, at a time when third-party cookies are disappearing and behavioural targeting with them, contextual targeting seems to be one of the most effective alternatives.

To achieve contextual targeting, advertisers rely on thematic and/or socio-demographic elements. For example, an e-tailer selling motorbike equipment will want to display its ads on media related to this theme, or on media grouping socio-demographic groups that are likely to like or ride motorbikes.

Artificial intelligence for contextual targeting

Artificial intelligence is becoming more and more important in our lives and in digital tools. Nowadays, very powerful algorithms are able to read content and guess what the page/article is about. This technology would allow advertisers to continue to use programmatic and display their ads on a wide variety of sites.

For example, some informational sites (publishers) work on many themes and attract a very diverse audience. Advertisers would be reluctant to work with this type of publisher, as their display campaigns would be seen by audiences that do not fit their targeting, and would have difficulty managing their CPMs.

Thanks to artificial intelligence and semantic analysis, publishers can offer advertisers to display their ads on their pages/articles that fall within the theme of their targeting. For this, the sale and purchase of advertising space would go through a programmatic platform and the current bidding system can continue, in order to guarantee ever more attractive ROIs.

Google's Privacy Sandbox

You might think that Google is deleting cookies from its Chrome browser because it is under pressure from those who have already deleted them and wants to follow in their footsteps... But in reality, Google has planned ahead and is going to reap many benefits.

For several years, the American giant has been working on a new project: the Privacy Sandbox. Third-party cookies are disappearing... but not first-party cookies! And Google has the world's largest database acquired with first-party cookies. Indeed, the users of Google's tools are very numerous, and most of them are connected to their account. So, even with the disappearance of third-party cookies, Google is able to analyse the behaviour and tastes of Internet users who use their products.

If you are an advertiser and want to do ultra-targeted advertising (unique ID), this will become impossible. However, Google has created FLoCs (Federated Learning of Cohorts). So, as a user of Google's products, you will no longer be targeted as a single individual, but Google will place you in a Cohort of users who share the same interests as you.

Advertisers will be able to use Google to target their campaigns and reach categories of Internet users who are interested in their products. Publishers will be able to sell their advertising space to advertisers at attractive prices.

Although this solution seems interesting for all three internet actors (advertiser, publishers and internet users), Google is becoming even more indispensable and is further consolidating its hegemony in the face of the independent web (also called the open web).

At the time of writing this article, FLoCs are not available in France. The reason? This solution does not fall within the jurisdiction imposed by the GDPR and the CNIL. French actors must therefore - for the moment - find other alternatives.

Web Push Notification, an alternative in a cookieless world


Why use Web Push Notification in the cookieless era?


Being closer to your audience... This is what should motivate advertisers today. At a time when behavioral targeting as we knew it until now will disappear, display remarketing outside GAFA also risks losing a significant potential of reach. So how can you really reach people who know your products and have already visited your site?

  • Email marketing is at the heart of most e-tailers' digital strategy. Indeed, getting an email is done in different ways:
  • Creating an account and/or purchasing a product
  • Subscription to a newsletter
  • Registering for an event
  • Downloading a resource

Thus, when an e-merchant collects an email address, he can be sure that the person who receives his messages will be receptive.

Thus, emailing is a very effective retargeting solution. About 1 to 2% of the visitors of a website give their email address and can therefore be contacted again.

Web Push Notification works in a similar way to email, as each notification sent will reach a targeted audience. Indeed, to collect a consent to receive notifications, the user must be browsing the advertiser's website. On the other hand, it is on average 15% of Internet users who will give their consent vs. 1 to 2% for email!

Thus, e-merchants who use Web Push technology see a larger base of contacts than emailing in just a few months!

How does Web Push Notification work?


Web Push Notification is an innovative and efficient communication format. This technology is managed by the user's browser and OS. This means that it is displayed on-screen and is completely cookie-less. The Internet user who subscribes to Web Push Notifications does not need to be on a particular site to receive the notification!

As we have seen before, about 15% of a site's visitors subscribe to Web Push Notifications. This is due to the fact that Adrenalead offers the possibility to customize the collection template! This format is displayed on-screen, and 100% GDPR compliant with explicit collection of the user is not adblockable! Other advantages come from this format:

  •       100% controlled marketing pressure (unlike display and behavioural targeting)
  •       Advertising fraud impossible (ephemeral and on-screen format)
  •       Brand control (advertising does not appear on a site)
  •       Redirects the subscriber to the chosen landing page in one click

Thus, this cookie-less communication format becomes a real lever of customer activation for all advertisers who wish to capitalise on their audience and regain control over their retargeting campaigns.


More effective in every way than email, notification is becoming a must for all advertisers who want to continue retargeting their site visitors in the cookieless era with a format that complements email marketing.

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