As Cookies Are Ending, Is Cookieless the New Future?

If the web is a boundless complicated instrument driven by billions of cogs, then cookies are the lubricant that keeps the wheels moving. Moreover, the web is now undergoing a cusp of a revolution, and it’s all about going cookieless.

Google announces to go cookieless with the chrome browser by 2022. It’s not just Chrome that is phasing them out, but Firefox’s Mozilla browser began blocking third-party cookies last year. And so did Apple in its Safari browser.

Cookiless Future

No, All Cookies Aren’t Going Away!

Google shall bid adieu to only the third-party cookies, and first-party cookies are still staying. They will continue to send information from the site to the browser visited by users. So, publishers will have ample information to understand their customers and deliver them the best site experience and functionality.

To know more about how cookies trace the browsers, cookieless targeting and about the end of cookies, check these:

Are Cookies Bad for You Or Is It the Refined Sugar?

The news that third party cookies are going to disappear has generated maximum eyeballs. Several articles have been written around the end of cookies or cookieless advertising, and the impact of their ban and them going away.

However, the real issue at hand is not cookies, but it is user privacy.
Looking at this issue, focusing only on cookies would hardly do justice to analyzing how things could shape up.

Until now, the adtech world has always been focusing on providing the best possible user targeting for advertisers and the best possible revenue for publishers (depending on which side the company is playing on). The end-user was never in the picture and was taken for granted.

Ascertaining the real issue at hand, we shall focus upon three things majorly:

(i) User privacy regulations.
(ii) Impact On the Ecosystem.
(iii) The possible solutions.

To elaborate,

What Are the User Privacy Regulations?

Targeted advertising focuses on interests, specific traits, and consumer preferences. Advertisers discover this information by tracking user activity on the Internet, which could be an invasion of privacy. Cookieless tracking affiliate and cookieless authentication is a vital need.

With the advent of user data privacy laws in various countries, this fundamentally flawed approach to digital advertising is now being challenged, and rightly so.

Therefore, the user privacy landscape has been massively changing. A series of important laws and regulations have evolved with time. Have a look at this evolution, fast forward to today.

Data privacy for cookieless advertising

General Data Protection Regulation or GDPR is primarily the law of privacy and data protection. It is explicitly for the EU (European Union) and EEA (European Economic Area). Its goal is to protect the personal information of EU users.

The California Consumer Privacy Act or CCPA is the data privacy law that is for the residents of California, US. Also, it is one of the consumer rights laws related to access & sharing of customer information for marketing.

For now, GDPR and CCPA are the two significant data privacy policies that companies follow worldwide. So, to adhere to GDPR, CCPA and all privacy policies, most publishers who deal with data are implementing Consent Management Platforms (CMPs).

These are platforms or tools to take consent from the visitor to use his/her digital identity. They aim at marketing efforts and will be compliant with GDPR and CCPA regulations.

In a Cookieless Web, What Is the Impact On the Ecosystem?

This is going to reshape the entire advertising ecosystem. Also, the manner in which the brands will engage with their audiences will change. How?

There will be major privacy transformations.

In the online environment, brands have to rethink now on customer acquisition, customer-data activation, marketing technologies and everything relevant to them.

The controls shall face active impacts

The publishers need to amplify their audience knowledge, and the brands may sit back and move in the leader’s direction. The user ecosystem is going to gear up to give more control.

Birth of new concepts and buzzwords

This will challenge the user tracking at a singular level, and terms like redaction, noise addition, differential privacy etc. shall heap up the already crowded dictionary of the martech & adtech/ madtech world.

Major changes in the lives of stakeholders

Middle player DSPs will massively become live and adopt new technologies. Many middle player SSPs will disappear and become obsolete. Middle player data aggregators will soon go out of business.

There is going to be a massive tech impact

The entire ecosystem needs to harmonize together and sustain a new diverse industry ahead of the advent of the cookieless retargeting.

What Are the Possible Solutions For the Cookieless World?

By 2022, third-party cookies are going to phase out. So, marketers around the globe have to get it another way. What could possibly be their way out in a cookieless world?

Working on your first-party data strategy

As the third-party cookies vanish, companies are going to strategize innovatively on their first-party data strategy to balkanize the cookie-less situation.

Strategizing your third-party cookie

Like first-party cookies, the third-Party Cookie Disguised As First-Party Cookie as a sleeper or disguised cookies would work on native web domains.

Customer data platforms

Customer data platform (CDP) allows you to know who your customers really are, and it is more personalized than third-party cookies, thus generating better sales and conversions.

IP addresses

The IP addresses change whenever the user location changes; still, IP addresses are a decent way to track users while they are moving around between their walled environments.


Unlike cookie-dropping, scraping fingerprinting relevant information does not require special notifications or permissions and is to have around 99% accuracy rate.

Identity Graphs

These shall be able to create identities and spot devices that belong to the same user and enable targeting campaigns and excellent user experience.

Contextual analysis

It helps marketers to target ads based on the website content that the user is visiting, and not on the user’s personal profile.

Doing away with user-level identification altogether.

Sticking by a methodology that does not thrive on identifying a user is the call. So, conversion measurement and Interest-based advertising without using cookies is another possibility under contemplation by certain players. This ensures no invasion on user data privacy while the targeted ads still reach the users.

Similarly, in a cookieless chrome revolution, Google came up with the proposal of designing of a “privacy sandbox“. It will give us the best of both worlds: ads that publishers can target user interests but that don’t infringe their privacy.

Working in the absence of a user-level identifier

Differential privacy is one way out. It makes it possible for tech companies to collect and share aggregate information about user habits while maintaining the privacy of individual users. It also makes data less attractive to would-be attackers and can help prevent them from connecting personal data from multiple platforms.

Federated Architecture is yet another favourable solution. It is about combining data into any single server, often termed as federated architecture. There are major names like Google Ads Hub, Data Clean Rooms tending towards the idea of it.

Here’s the spotlight : Having a universal identifier

Since cookie syncing is not always reliable, the need for standardized ID consortiums has been rising alarmingly. ID consortiums establish a governance framework and product specification that includes an open and standardized cookie and accessible people-based identifiers. These are delivered in a secure, privacy-conscious omnichannel identity framework.

Currently, the paramount need for ID solutions account to the ecosystem having a handful of these ID Consortiums:

The Trade Desk’s Unified ID

Trade Desk is a market-leading DSP that allows other DSPs, SSPs, and DMPs via their Unified IDs and aims to reduce the number of cookie syncs conducted on web pages.

The Trade Desk’s Unified ID 2.0

Third-party cookies are declining in popular web browsers and becoming cookieless browser keeping in tune with customer data privacy. So, the Trade Desk came up with a new iteration to replace the use of 3rd-party cookies with encrypted email addresses. It is an open-source ID solution and is usable by all companies.

Advertising ID Consortium

The Advertising ID Consortium is an open and independent group that utilizes their own cookie ID via AppNexus‘s domain, cookie IDs (DigiTrust’s ID & TTD’s Unified ID) as well as LiveRamp’s IdentityLink as people-based identifiers.


ID5 is a French-based startup that allows publishers, data providers and AdTech companies to outsource their cookie-syncing processes with their partners and use ID5‘s cookie-matching table.


Powered by zeotap, ID+ enables the future of digital marketing while ensuring user privacy and data security are front and center. It is based on transparent user authentication through hashed offline identifiers and does not rely on cookies.

List of ID Consortiums Digitalkites

Thus, with all that we have seen happening in and around digital advertising over the past 5 years regarding privacy, it’s evident that the future of digital advertising lies in privacy-friendly tech and user-focused processes.

A Cookieless Era: Where are we?

There is no ‘future proof’ solution or platform out there yet. Not with us, not with anyone. Discussions are underway among various industry bodies such as IAB involving key stakeholders such as W3C etc. They intend to come up with technical standards and guidelines. Once these are formalized, private companies would need to build solutions and adapt their products accordingly to offer to their clients.

Key Takeaways

A comprehensive solution is the need of the hour. Anything less would mean that we will end up in the same situation with something else to deal with instead of cookies. Remember, it’s not the cookies that are bad for your health, it’s the refined sugar. 🙂

Any proposed solution here cannot be restricted to merely solving advertising on sites or apps. This is a golden opportunity to come up with a universal framework to respect user choice on his data privacy and exchange, once and for all.

User Privacy is simple. Every user needs to have a choice on what data is being shared, with whom. If the user believes that he is getting significant value in return (mostly in the form of content), he will agree to share, else not.

What Else to Note?

In the future world of IoT, user data is everywhere- smart wear, connected TVs, smart cars, eyewear devices like Google Lens’, gaming consoles, and so on.
We need to develop a standard protocol that solves the problem on all these devices and for all types of content: video, audio, images, content, native ads etc.

The solution must be simple for any user, in any country and any language to understand. Complex opt-out messages or opt-out links in fine prints will hopefully become a thing of the past in a couple of years

From this perspective, any solution based on 1st party cookies is clearly temporary. Similarly, ID consortiums driven by private conglomerates or partnerships might not stand the test of time since they cannot be termed as a common standard.

Closing Notes with Digitalkites

At DigitalKites, we are closely following several white papers and solutions being proposed. We have submitted our thoughts to the relevant industry bodies. We will back any idea that the industry finalizes upon and we definitely wish that it should be comprehensive and not something that needs to be revisited 5 years from now again

If individual user identifiers do indeed disappear, our distributed infrastructure allows us to seamlessly move towards federated architecture at a rapid pace. However, chances for this to happen are few and even if such solutions do emerge, they will be restricted to a few use cases such as enrichment.

Adtech and martech are moving into a new realm where the end-user is finally recognized as a stakeholder along with advertisers and publishers. At cookieless DigitalKites, we welcome this change, and if done right, this will encourage more innovation and growth in the industry, lifting the shroud of privacy concerns that have enveloped it over the past few years.

WithCookieless’ Digitalkites, You Are in Good Hands!

We assure our partners that they would not have to worry about adapting to the cookieless advertising (or rather privacy-conscious) future. Once the standard is formalized, we will be quick to adapt our stack.

Moreover, we shall deliver with minimal disruption to our brands and publisher clients. With our unique adtech & martech stack, and our expertise on identity, we will be client-efficient. It will be compliant and operational in the right environment, whatever that environment might be.

As a lot around you is about to change, and you cannot wait longer till the change gets on you. So, how are you going to step up in the changing game?
Let us know!

Interested in taking your business goals to the next level?

Connect with us today!

About Dinesh Ganti

Dinesh Ganti is the CEO of digitalkites. A hands on madtech expert and technologist with a decade of rich and profound experience in the digital advertising space. His previous stints with many product driven companies empowered him with in depth understand of marketing and advertising stacks and the practical nuances of digital advertising in geographies like India and APAC

Leave a Comment