Miles 33 Blog

Google is making 3rd party cookies obsolete – now what?

We all know that cookies are critical to the advertising business. So what’s the deal?

Google is making 3rd party cookies obsolete – now what?

In case you missed it, last month (January 2020) Google presented a timeline for their effort to phase out support for third-party cookies (see this post Building a more private web: A path towards making third party cookies obsolete).

We all know that cookies are critical to the advertising business. So what’s the deal?

What does this mean?

What we DO know is that Google won’t just give up on the ability to target advertising, it simply is too much a core part of their own business model. In fact, we believe this to be motivated by a concern that 3rd parties are becoming too sophisticated in side-stepping the various cookie-blocking apps. As this might eventually erode some of Google’s own business, stepping beyond basic cookie use is a sound strategy (for Google). A fine example of google killing off products that they see as eating some of their cake.

Google’s aim is to come up with “something new” .. but how that “something” will affect advertisers and publishers is a BIG question mark, nor is it clear how much it will cost you . .  and, it is very likely that this direction will lead publishers to become more dependent on Google, not less.

If you are a publisher, you may start by asking yourself this question – “How will my bottom line be impacted if Ad Targeting is no longer possible?” Or, at the very least, “What if Ad Targeting becomes a lot more Expensive?

Only time will provide detailed answers, but we can provide some thoughts on how to prepare for this new era of Ad Targeting.

We can all agree that, as publishers have embraced “going digital”, large chunks of their business have become dependent upon forces they have little, or no, influence over. Remember that not all that long ago, editors, ad directors and publishers could tell you exactly who their readers were. They could tell us what mattered to them and even why it mattered – a level of understanding that today’s algorithmic definition of “Audiences”, cannot touch. Furthermore, ads often get presented to unknown audiences through ad exchanges and marketplaces.

We believe therefor that this represents an opportunity for publishers “to get back to basics”. A way to reassert the meaning and value of a close and genuine relationship with readers. One that is obtained through dialogue and personal interaction. Miles 33 happens to have a real solution to help them accomplish this. That solution is Gemstone, the new generation advertising sales system with its built-in questionnaire module, extensive database capabilities, a CRM and workflow automation (in addition to the ad booking, pricing and scheduling functions).

Gemstone can help publishers expand and enrich their “first-party data”.

As the term suggests, “First-Party Data” is data obtained directly, or firsthand, from their customers, clients and readers. Gemstone has a context-sensitive questionnaire system that prompts the user to ask relevant questions when communicating with clients. Every question that gets answered is captured directly into the CRM, constantly enriching the amount of information known about the contact. There is also a lot of intelligence at work, thanks to the integrated workflow capabilities. The “if the answer is this, then ask the following questions . . .” not only keeps these lists of questions manageable, it actually “guides” the user through an interactive (and informative) session with the client.

The data that gets captured and stored is unlimited and the questions can be perfectly tailored to the publisher’s business. The presentation is flexible and fully context-sensitive, always prompting for information that is relevant to the dialogue between user and customer. For example, questions prompted when talking to an ad agency might be totally different to questions prompted when talking to a corporate brand.

This function is not only a well-established business practice to build deep knowledge about your client-base, it can also present additional revenue streams. As an example, in the UK, one of the largest providers of database lists of industry professionals is managed by Gemstone. The database lists themselves are sold to marketing companies for targeted campaigns. This information can be sorted and filtered by any criteria so the resulting lists can be exported, and sold, also of course, by Gemstone.

The key take-away here is if publishers build up a rich set of targetable information about their customers (read audiences), they could be much better positioned to deal with whatever Google comes up with. Knowing who your audience is and what they want is inherently what the Googles and Facebooks of this world do, then sell you access to that.

There is a huge benefit of owning your own data, but will it eliminate the dependence on Google? No – knowing about your audience is one thing, making it actionable and targetable to extended audiences is where Google has the best cards in the deck. Only time will tell how much that will cost publishers. In the meantime, enriching the data publishers have of the audiences they DO have access to, is a sound tactic and certainly worth pursuing.


For more information on Gemstone’s Questionnaire subsystem, how it interacts with the CRM and workflow abilities and how it all can help your business, contact Miles 33 for a demo.