GLOBAL: Opinion differs on whether the marketing community is finally facing the long-heralded “death of the cookie” but at the very least its role in online advertising is about to diminish further.

Cookies, designed to track desktop internet browsing, have seen their relevance and usefulness to online advertisers decline as technology has advanced and consumer behaviour has changed, a process likely to be further hastened by the imminent arrival of GDPR which will require user consent before they can be deployed.

Against this background, a WARC Trend Snapshot, Post-cookie identity management, explores the future options for marketers in a world where first-party data, gained in a fully compliant and transparent manner, will become even more important.

So-called ‘walled gardens’ like Google, Facebook and Amazon offer a persuasive proposition, it suggests, having amassed huge quantities of ‘deterministic’ data on their users.

Agency groups are making moves to help brands develop ‘person-level’ anonymised customer views, incorporating both online and offline data, while media companies have looked to reorganise existing data to offer a scaled, single user ID proposition.

And ad tech companies are hoping to use their collective scale to offer an open web alternative to Google and Facebook.

“There’s a hierarchy when it comes to consumer identification, with persistent IDs at the top, followed by device IDs and then cookies at the bottom,” according to Richard Lees, executive vice president, Europe solutions, at Merkle.

“Advertisers will increasingly move up this hierarchy, seeking to provide a holistic experience across devices to known individuals,” he told WARC.

“Marketing with individuals in mind rather than cookies can also shift the approach of the marketer,” he added. “A focus on individual IDs can actually lead to the creation of more thoughtful and targeted marketing messages.”

An alternative approach might see brands eschew the idea of user targeting altogether and instead match creative to the environment in which the message is being consumed.

Advocates of this approach point out that there is no requirement to procure user data, and that it contributes and “enhances” the user experience, rather than proving disruptive.

Sourced from WARC