The rise of AI and the fall of the cookie together are creating profound change for the programmatic advertising industry. With Chrome’s deprecation of third-party cookies now just months away, nearly every part of the ecosystem needs a plan to adapt its programmatic execution to the new reality.

The result is a seemingly endless swirl of technologies – new and old – with an increasing number of AdTech companies claiming to have the solution. The cacophony of pitches and promises is dizzying, and many marketers are understandably paralyzed by the chaos of the marketplace.

While there is definitely some complexity, a simple four-step approach will allow brands and agencies to clarify and unlock their post-cookie targeting strategy.  

4 simple steps

1. Leverage brand first-party data.  Building closer relationships with customers is always a good thing, and a strong first-party data set is a solid foundation for post-cookie success. But it is only a first step.  

2. Connect to agency identity spine.  Media agencies of all sizes have been building (or buying) identity spines that provide them with a broad understanding of mostly offline consumer behaviors, and deep demographic, psychographic, and behavioral profiles. Brands can connect their first-party data with these larger data sets via clean rooms to provide a privacy-safe path to activation.

3. Target authenticated IDs. There are a number of emerging alternative IDs that let advertisers find their customers, or lookalike customers, in the digital advertising ecosystem.  Authenticated IDs like UID2 will drive performance that is superior to the less-precise third-party cookies, and will be a fundamental pillar of cookieless programmatic execution. Allocate the first budget dollars here for precision 1:1 targeting and measurement.

4. Boost reach with AI (this is where the magic happens!).  Authenticated IDs are unlikely to deliver the scale of third-party cookies, so advertisers will need to spend more against impressions without IDs to drive reach and deliver brand KPIs.  Some will default to classic contextual solutions, but new and emerging AI-driven targeting technologies offer a better way to fill the gap in reach left by cookie retirement.  Delivering scale and performance that’s superior to contextual, they complement authenticated IDs by using the same behavioral signals and extend reach to the growing proportion of impressions without IDs.  These innovative AI-driven technologies are the key to delivering reach, budget efficiency, and consumer privacy in a cookieless world.

Simplify your post-cookie targeting strategy

To simplify their approach to post-cookie targeting, brands should select best-in-class technology/partners at each step of this process.  Choose your cleanroom partner, leverage your agency’s ID spine, work with your DSP in the authenticated space, and choose your AI reach boost partner.  

Surely, there is a lot more complexity to work through than captured in this deliberate oversimplification.  But by breaking the problem into just a handful of key decisions that fill the gaps left by cookie retirement, brands can create order from chaos, break the paralysis, and start executing an effective post-cookie programmatic targeting strategy.