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Several weeks back we began discussions with a potential client around display media management.  We spoke at length about buying channels, assorted DSPs, and ad serving platforms.  Amidst these talks it became apparent that our client faced a particular hurdle that opened our eyes to an existing (though seemingly small) pitfall within the industry.  A large percentage of their inbound traffic was attributable to Safari browsers.  At first glance we didn’t think twice about any marketing implications.  Let’s run programmatic display! Let’s retarget!

But then the familiar reality came roaring in: Safari browsers have been blocking 3rd party cookies by default for years.  As an analytics-fed organization, this limits our ability to provide full insight into the performance of these campaigns quite dramatically.

There has been plenty written about the subject, and a lot of the hoopla surged with Mozilla’s threat of blocking 3rd party cookies by default as well:

I understand arguments made both for and against the default blocking of cookies. Users are entitled to their privacy, but default blocking will also harm much of the customization and refinement of advertising that they enable.  Would you rather be bombarded with unrelated, ‘reach-everyone’ ad copy, or custom-tailored offers that relate to products you recently researched?  Do you want data circulating about your browsing habits altogether?

The reality is that the industry hinges heavily upon the utilization of this information, and innovation continues to push forward, regardless of whether or not we like it. What Mozilla’s threat (and subsequent pull-back) really did was allow us to play out the ‘what happens if this happens across the board?’ scenarios.  What if EVERY browser blocks 3rd party cookies by default?  But as mentioned earlier, many are talking about it, and the reality is that not many platforms, vendors, and service providers are doing much to solve for it.

So what’s a marketer to do?

This is what drove us further into the existing peculiarities of the ecosystem.  Who has a solution?  What are the workarounds?  This series will explore strategizing for, and executing marketing initiatives in a cookieless world.  We’ll discuss 1st party ad-serving technology from providers like Flashtalking and Trueffect, opt-in capabilities of retargeting firms like Criteo, alternative data matching methods that are moving beyond cookies altogether, data security, accuracy, and the renewed emphasis upon direct publisher relationships.  Additionally, we’ll point out where the market is potentially lacking audience targeting options in absence the almighty cookie.