As cookies disappear, contextual advertising is taking center stage


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After years of open-ended tracking on the internet, consumers and developers have decided to revolt. They are no longer accepting third-party cookies, a somewhat deceptive name for a data collection tool that allows businesses to track users across every site they visit. There’s no sugar-coating the end result: consumers felt like their privacy had been invaded. While the California Consumer Privacy Act (CCPA) does not require websites to ask for consent before applying cookies, many businesses are doing so anyway in an effort to maintain or rebuild consumer trust. But with many web browsers taking a stance against cookies, one question remains: what happens when third-party cookies are essentially banned?

Many are braced for a bumpy transition. An IAB/Ipsos survey found that less than half (48%) of brands are prepared for the cookie-less future. Worse yet, McKinsey estimates that businesses could lose $10 billion in revenue as cookies disappear. Others have a more positive view of the cookie-less future – Deloitte research shows that consumers align trustworthiness (83%), integrity (79%) and honesty (77%) with their favorite brands, but none of these factors can be obtained through the use of cookies. In what could be the greatest benefit of all, Deloitte predicts that businesses that remove cookies may have a once-in-a-generation opportunity to strengthen their customer relationships and accelerate future growth.

In a world where targeting and relevancy still matter, this might sound impossible. But by returning to the fundamentals of contextually relevant ad placement, and by relying on technological innovations to reach their intended customers, brands can succeed in a cookie-free world.

Technology is the key to a contextually relevant campaign

Content is king, but before marketers can deliver a contextually relevant campaign, they must first identify their target audience and discover the content they are most interested in viewing. It is also necessary for marketers to determine the sites and content categories that align with their brand and keep track of those that do not to prevent any issues from developing. These are the basics, and they are just the beginning.

Marketers must also consider inventory selection – for example, they could select a supply partner based on the audience, content and the quality of their contextual solutions. This would allow brands to better serve an audience that meets their individual needs. But the technology must not be overlooked – if a supply partner does not have machine learning (ML), data engineering and other tools to enhance targeting possibilities, marketers won’t be able to provide an even playing field. This issue can only be overcome by using a supply partner that is more technologically advanced.

The importance of technology doesn’t end there – it is critical in reaching the right consumers at the proper moment. Brands have more power than ever and may utilize advanced contextual targeting capabilities to deploy highly relevant ads and create enduring campaigns that audiences won’t forget. This is possible by using video metadata (upload category, language, video owner), visual signals from video frames, and audio signals from audio tracks to properly determine how to classify and contextualize a video.

Be creative, not invasive, to attract and retain consumers

Concerns may persist for marketers that relied on cookies to target consumers, but they should form a new strategy for superior results throughout the year. Instead of relying on bits of tracking data that are going away, they should focus on attracting and retaining consumers with creativity. There’s simply no need to silently track their every move; brands can collaborate with consumers to create a more personalized and human online experience. In doing so, they can highlight their initiative to offer greater control, transparency, and an increased respect for privacy.

Brand safety and suitability are another factor to consider. Ads should be placed next to relevant and brand-appropriate content. With the right technology, they can accurately pair great ads with appropriate content every time. In other words, if a consumer is watching a video about home repairs, there would be little value in pairing that content with an ad for fast food. Yes, viewers might be hungry, but that’s not why they’re watching this particular video. A better, more contextual approach would more strongly consider the user’s interests – making repairs at home – and combine it with an ad for tools or a hardware store.

This may sound like an arduous, manual task, but advanced machine learning models are now capable of deciphering a video topic as well as the feelings the video evokes. Better still, marketers can tell the exact video frame in which a specific product category is shown, creating limitless opportunities for hyper contextual targeting.

Rethink the power and potential of contextual advertising

There was a time when cookies were merely a delicious treat, but they have become synonymous with consumer tracking. Whereas traditional cookies are made up of sugar, spice and everything nice, web cookies contain the ingredients of privacy invasion. They have been shunned as a result, but marketers shouldn’t worry. They can overcome the loss of cookies by relying on contextual advertising, which empowers them to better connect with consumers. Contextual advertising allows marketers to thrive in any environment and without compromising consumer privacy. In the end, many marketers may be grateful that the demise of cookies inspired them to rethink the power and potential of contextual advertising.

Caroline Blavet
Caroline Blavet is the VP of Global Client Strategy at Dailymotion and has been at the company since 2017. Prior to Dailymotion, Caroline co-founded a company that built the first ever exchange that connects merchants with premium editorial opportunities through real-time bidding, Narrativ. Caroline graduated from Tuffs University and has her master’s degree from UCLA. Caroline is passionate about encouraging women to pursue business leadership roles as well as a big lover of the arts & design world.


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