Moving towards “The Next Web”, where cookies play a much less important role, will require a major shift in how advertisers engage with consumers online.

Troy Young, president of Hearst magazines and the Interactive Advertising Bureau’s (IAB) chair, discussed this subject at the trade body’s 2020 Annual Leadership Meeting.

And he outlined the possible contours of “The Next Web”, which is taking shape as more browsers – like Google’s Chrome and Apple’s Safari – increasingly phase out tracking cookies.

More specifically, Young envisioned the underpinnings of “browser companies that understand that making a browser is much more than optimizing to the immediate needs of the consumer.” (For more, read WARC’s in-depth report: IAB Chair: The cookie is dead. Long live “The Next Web”.)

The importance of this is clear: “Browsers are the front-end [digital] operating systems to the world. And [because] they’re the hosts, they must optimise to the vitality of the ecosystems,” he argued.

Such a reimagined functionality, Young allowed, may sound “heavy and idealistic” given the architecture of the current digital environment.

“But it's not,” he asserted. “Browser companies are not just making decisions for their platforms. These decisions impact our world and our businesses in profound ways.”

Whatever a consumer’s interests, he added, digital technology can deliver a world where “interests are indulged, where content creators flourish, where IP [intellectual property] is cherished, and where free speech is fundamental.

“More technology makes my journey more rewarding. The economic system that funds this system is about to go through a period of significant change ... At the centre of this change is that little tiny file in your browser.”

Without the convenience of that cookie, he continued, a re-imagined digital ecosystem will need to balance personalisation and privacy in ways that can benefit all stakeholders.

“The Next Web will be an increasingly complex and technical place that will help bring together various constituencies, and must represent more than just the sell-side, the supply-side, ad tech or platforms, content companies, agencies, or marketers,” Young said.

Indeed, he added, “It also needs to pay more attention to measuring the effects the investment and the effectiveness of a media investment.”

Sourced from WARC