Identity graphs for the cookie-less world 🌎

Bhavya Singh
4 min readJan 12, 2024

Okay, so what does this title even, let me break that down first-

Identity Graphs: These are sophisticated databases that map and connect a wide range of data points about individuals, creating comprehensive profiles of their online behavior, interests, and preferences.

Cookie-less World: This refers to the impending shift in digital advertising and marketing, where reliance on third-party cookies (small tracking files that collect user data across websites) is being phased out due to privacy concerns.

Some background:

The “cookie-less shift” is a major transformation in the online advertising and marketing landscape, driven by growing concerns about user privacy and regulatory tightening around data collection practices. Here’s a simplified explanation:

The Problem with Cookies:

For years, third-party cookies have been the workhorses of online advertising. These tiny files track users across websites, building detailed profiles of their browsing habits and interests. This allows for targeted advertising, but it also raises serious privacy concerns. Users often feel like they’re being spied on, and concerns over data misuse are rampant.

The Rise of the Cookie-less Future:

In response to these concerns, browsers, governments, and privacy advocates are pushing for a “cookie-less” future. This means phasing out third-party cookies and finding alternative ways to deliver relevant advertising and personalized experiences.

The Challenges and Opportunities:

The shift presents both challenges and opportunities. For marketers, it means finding new ways to reach and target customers without relying on intrusive tracking. This could involve:

  • First-party data: Building relationships with customers and collecting data directly from them.
  • Contextual targeting: Identifying user interests based on the content they’re consuming.
  • Privacy-centric solutions: Utilizing technologies that offer personalization while respecting user privacy.

For users, the cookie-less future signifies a potential for greater control over their online data and a more privacy-conscious online experience. It also opens doors for innovative solutions that balance personalization with transparency and user choice.

Here are 10 promising cookieless advertising options that marketers can explore:

1. First-party data: Instead of relying on third-party cookies, brands can leverage first-party data collected directly from their customers with their consent. This includes website logins, email addresses, purchase history, and survey responses. Building strong first-party data strategies empowers brands to personalize ad experiences and build deeper customer relationships.

2. Contextual targeting: This approach focuses on the context of the webpage or app where an ad is displayed, aligning ad content with the surrounding content and user interests. Analyzing keywords, topics, and user behavior on the page allows for relevant ad placements without needing individual tracking.

3. Identity solutions: Several emerging identity solutions aim to provide privacy-conscious alternatives to third-party cookies. These solutions, often based on hashed email addresses or device IDs, enable ad targeting across different platforms and publishers while protecting user privacy.

4. Predictive modeling: Leveraging machine learning and artificial intelligence, advertisers can predict user behavior and interests based on existing data. This allows for personalized ad targeting without directly tracking individuals, offering relevant ad experiences while respecting privacy.

5. Walled gardens: These are controlled digital ecosystems like social media platforms or connected TV (CTV) networks where user data is owned and managed by the platform itself. Advertisers can leverage targeted advertising options within these platforms based on their own data and user behavior within the ecosystem.

6. Publisher partnerships: Collaborating directly with publishers can offer valuable insights into their audience demographics and interests. This allows for tailored ad campaigns specific to the publisher’s audience, leveraging their first-party data and contextual understanding.

7. Attention-based metrics: Moving beyond traditional click-through rates (CTRs), advertisers can focus on metrics like view time, scroll depth, and user engagement to measure ad effectiveness. This provides a more accurate understanding of whether ads are truly capturing user attention and driving desired outcomes.

8. Audio advertising: As podcast listening and audio streaming services gain popularity, audio advertising presents a growing opportunity to reach engaged audiences. Leveraging contextual targeting and dynamic ad insertion based on content or listener demographics can be effective in the cookieless world.

9. Connected TV (CTV): With cord-cutting on the rise, CTV advertising is becoming increasingly crucial. Targeting viewers based on their viewing habits, demographics, and interests on CTV platforms can offer effective reach and engagement without relying on cookies.

10. Experiential marketing: Creating interactive and immersive brand experiences can capture user attention and build brand loyalty without relying on individual tracking. This can involve AR/VR experiences, interactive quizzes, or gamified content, fostering engagement and positive brand associations.

Example user journey:

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Bhavya Singh

Product Manager Generalist | B2B/B2C SaaS | ISB | Hyper focussed PM on Growth & UX. https://www.linkedin.com/in/bhavyasingh | Comment on any blog for a 1:1 call