About the death of the cookie and Google Chrome's announcement

General Update
January 14, 2020
Santi Darmandrail

This morning, Google's Chrome team announced that in two years they will no longer support third party cookies. Although the announcement was interesting, it wasn’t surprising. Since even before we founded Retargetly people have been talking about the death of the cookie; and we've been preparing.

Considering that a good chunk of our products –and of the digital ecosystem at large– relies at least partially on third party cookies; we thought it'd be good to share our view of the future with you.

In its announcement Google makes it clear that although cookies aren't perfect, they provide a basic personalization and insights function that needs to be preserved and benefits advertisers, publishers, developers, and users. For this reason, when cookies die in 2022, a new feature called Privacy Sandbox will replace them and provide the same functionality but with privacy at its core. There was no specific announcement made about how Privacy Sandbox will accomplish this.

It'd be easy to say that we know what'll happen, but all we can be sure of right now is that cookies will no longer exist in 2022 and that something new will replace them. We don't know if that replacement will continue to allow 1-to-1 targeting and insights or if we'll need to move to a many-to-many mentality. We don't know much yet.

This day was coming; now we finally know exactly when. And the great news is that we have two years, more than enough time to accelerate on a plan we've been working on for over a year and a half. This plan has three phases.

In phase one, we are prioritizing data partnerships and integrations with Mobile ID partners and platforms. In the Americas, over 50% of everyone –from age 0 onwards– has a smartphone. And Mobile IDs are supported by all major Mobile Operating Systems with no plan for that to change at all. In less than a year, we've gone from a user base 90% cookie based to more than 55% Mobile ID based and we'll continue to push further.

Also, we are working on deepening our publisher relationships and developing with them a solution to allow first party cookie tracking, insights and targeting within their properties. We think that publishers are in the best place to shape the programmatic space by focusing on segmentation tools that protect user privacy, and we'll walk that path with them.

And in less than 6 months from mid-2019 to today, we've quintupled our offline matching capabilities. We currently hold over 100 million hashed PII tied to persistent Mobile IDs and can use them to rely less on behavioral data and more on strategic partnerships like the ones we have with Equifax, TransUnion, and more.

For phase two, in Q2 2020 we are launching the first version of a product we call "Project Katana". This is our way of combining the knowledge we've built in the ad business over the last 5 years, as well as a massive URL and content database, and consented data from millions of consumers across the Americas. All of this to build a new version of Contextual Targeting that uses not only a site's content but also predicts the likelihood that the person seeing that content is within a certain demo group. And "Project Katana" is non-cookie.

In phase three, our Special Projects team is working on a quantum leap in Big Data tech that will allow anyone to work with unstructured data sets at scale and with no Data Engineering knowledge. If you'd like to be a part of the first beta version in May 2020, email us at [email protected]

So in phase one we're strengthening our mobile and offline datasets, focusing on helping publishers transform programmatic in a privacy first way, creating a new audience product that uses non-ID contextual targeting in a unique way, and reinventing what Data Engineering means so that anyone can do it.

We see the death of the cookie as a unique opportunity to focus on what we've been doing so well over the last few years. We are in a perfect position to leverage our relationships, learnings, tech, and team to be the best in what will be a new generation for data platforms. Lucky for us, we've been on it for a while.

Up ahead we see moments of growth, and we know that we can count on our amazing clients and partners to create solutions that assure that their businesses thrive in the cookie-less age.