Google announced in January that it planned to join Safari and Firefox by blocking third-party cookies in its Chrome web browser – a development with far-reaching implications for the advertising industry, which IAB Europe has sought to address.

Europe’s main digital advertising trade body yesterday published its Guide to the Post-Third-Party Cookie Era to help prepare brands, agencies, publishers and other industry practitioners for the change.

The industry understandably is currently highly focused on dealing with the fallout from the measures being taken worldwide to deal with the coronavirus pandemic.

Yet with Chrome accounting for roughly two-thirds (65%) of browser usage, it is expected that Google’s decision essentially will end the use of third-party cookies, which IAB Europe described as “the single biggest change to the digital advertising ecosystem since the introduction of real-time bidding in 2009”.

Developed by experts from IAB Europe’s Programmatic Trading Committee – with contributions from the BBC, CNN, Kantar, OMD and many others – the guide sets out the background into the current use of digital advertising cookies, the contributing factors to their depletion and an overview of the alternative solutions that are currently available.

In summary, IAB Europe expects the ending of third-party cookies on Chrome to result in the following fundamental changes:

• Frequency capping is largely based on third-party cookies, so this feature will no longer be available in its current form.

• Third-party data currently being used for audience targeting will become unusable.

• Retargeting and most forms of dynamic creative targeting will become unworkable.

• DMPs (data management platforms) cannot create identity linkages in the same way they do today.

• Last or multi-touch attribution will no longer be possible.

“Most campaigns today will have at least one of these features applied which means nearly all campaigns will have to find new approaches,” the report advised.

The comprehensive guidance provides a range of potential solutions while making clear there is no one-size-fits-all answer and that each business will need to evaluate what best suits its needs.

However, some of the options outlined in the guide, or in development, include:

• Making the most of your first-party data and identifying opportunities with logged-in environments.

• Finding environments where your message will resonate with the right consumers at the right time, using contextual targeting solutions.

• Using other data points to drive your media decisions, by reducing wastage where your ads are shown to non-human, low interaction or brand unsafe environments.

• Exploring the huge volumes of users on cookieless platforms like in-app and tablet browsers.

• Your brand and message is unique – drive your tech partner and publisher to really understand objectives and measure them in real time.

Commenting on the initiative, David Goddard, chair of IAB Europe’s Programmatic Trading Committee, said: “As an industry we should stop attempting to ‘solve’ for the loss of third-party cookies, but instead recognise that these changes are predicated on the direction of privacy laws globally.

“To realise the full potential of this natural evolution it is essential that all parts of the value-chain work together to provide solutions that work across the whole ecosystem and keeping users at the centre of this conversation to build trust.

“The IAB Europe Guide creates common understanding of the issues to facilitate this approach and the Programmatic Trading Committee will be updating the Guide on a regular basis to provide the latest information and guidance on market alternatives to third-party cookies.”

Sourced from IAB Europe; additional content by WARC staff