3 Reasons Why You Need to Look Beyond the Cookie


ADOTAS – Over the past month, the Adotas “Voter’s Booth” offered a series of questions that looked into what device identification technologies marketers and advertisers are using today for identifying and targeting their campaigns. The findings were quite surprising – here’s a quick recap of the results:

  • For desktop, 98 percent of respondents rely on cookies, with the remaining 2 percent relying on outsourced technologies or in-app identifiers such as Android ID and Apple’s IDFA.
  • For mobile, 93 percent of respondents rely on cookies, 5 percent rely on in-app identifiers, and the remaining 2 percent on internal property solutions or outsourced technologies.
  • By Q4 2013, 99 percent of respondents plan to use the cookie as its primary audience identification technology.

As is often true for a decadent dessert, cookies were the crowd favorite. This tracking and measurement tool has been around since the early days of online advertising, but has experienced extreme decay – as expected – over the years. So why haven’t we made the switch to a better, more sustainable identification solution? Is the industry too comfortable, and feels safe sticking to what we know or are we that afraid of change? Whatever the logic may be, here are 3 reasons why we need to look beyond the cookie, and soon.

  1. Cookies are Easily, and Frequently, Deleted. Just last year, an independent study that measured the decay rates of cookies found that some cookies are seeing a shelf life of only 60 seconds. Whether it’s due to privacy concerns or safety precautions, browsers have made it easy for consumers to opt out or disable tracking cookies. The bottom line: there’s really no way to justify spending money on a tool that may not last for even one minute.
  2. Cookies & Mobile Don’t Mix. My first response to the finding that 93 percent of people rely on the cookie in mobile was, “Really?! People are actually using cookies in mobile?!” Cookies have proven to be virtually irrelevant and useless on mobile, and are more of a shot in the dark for marketers in this channel. Marketers relying solely on cookies for mobile are, in essence, throwing money away, and going in blind to the audiences they’re actually targeting.
  3. The Industry Needs a Universal Approach. Advertisers are feeling the frustration, even on the desktop, as up to 50 percent of web users’ browsers are sending “Do Not Track” signals. So much so that advertisers are considering abandoning these signals all together, according to an article in Business Insider. More than ever, the industry needs a universal device identification solution that not only honors the requests of consumers and is privacy-compliant, but is also effective for the marketer and is compatible across both desktop and mobile devices, further easing marketers’ frustrations.

For the 99 percent who plan to use cookies by Q4 2013, I challenge you to consider a new approach. The cookie is getting stale.


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