Cookieless browsers improve ad performance, trial finds

Cookieless browsers improve ad performance, trial finds

Cookieless browsers saw improved ad performance compared with browsers with cookies, new research has found.

This was part of the first phase of a new two-phase study conducted by ID-less ad platform Anonymised, in collaboration with the Association of Online Publishers (AOP) and the UK government’s Competition & Markets Authority (CMA).

It found Anonymised technology can outperform third-party cookies by delivering higher CPMs and “marginally better” performance metrics.

Anonymised sold an average of 68% of impressions on cookieless browsers compared with 32% on cookie-based browsers. The platform also successfully reached a “significant proportion” of cookieless users and achieved approximately 83% audience addressability per publisher within 90 days of deployment.

Click-through rates for standard banner campaigns were slightly better on cookieless browsers (+5%), but premium inventory click-through rates improved more considerably (+28%).

In general, Anonymised’s tech over-indexed on the cookieless browsers of Safari and Firefox due to “differences in bidding logic and the prioritisation of non-use ID signals”.

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AOP managing director Richard Reeves called the test a “milestone” in its efforts to future-proof publisher revenue.

“The initial findings underscore the potential of privacy-enhancing technologies like Anonymised to not only maintain but enhance ad performance and reach — even in a cookieless environment,” he said.

Mattia Fosci, CEO of Anonymised, told The Media Leader that he was “encouraged” by the results, as it was proof that its ID-less solution works well.

However, he added, the test revealed “bottlenecks” in the adtech ecosystem’s attempts to move beyond the cookie.

Analysis: Looking beyond the Sandbox

Fosci explained that providing an alternative, ID-less solution was an imperative to create competition against Google’s own post-cookie solution, the Privacy Sandbox.

Both the CMA and adtech companies have repeatedly raised concerns that the Privacy Sandbox could create a post-cookie digital advertising monopoly and reduce ad revenue for publishers. In turn, Google has continued to delay the deprecation of the cookie on Chrome as it works to address competition concerns.

Fosci believes the industry “need[s] to be looking beyond the Sandbox” as it shifts to an ID-less solution for targeting, but that competitors, like Anonymised, need to be transparent about their performance.

“What we proved is the accuracy of the technology is actually better than the cookie,” Fosci said. “The cookie hasn’t been amazing tech. But the problem is the whole adtech pipes have been built for the cookie or IDs that work like a cookie.”

Although the use of Anonymised tech was found to be efficient by the study, default settings in demand-side platforms (DSPs) still favour cookie-based configurations.

Fosci continued: “What we’ve unveiled is that, even though the tech works, the way it speaks to DSPs and SSPs [supply-side platforms] hasn’t been set up for ID-less targeting.”

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It was in the interest of SSPs and DSPs to consider alternatives to the Sandbox, Fosci argued, lest their own products become “more of a commodity” as “a service layer to make the Sandbox easy to use”.

The hold-up, in his view, is that making radical changes away from Google is “a tough ask” as it requires starting from scratch, although Fosci recommends adtech platforms do not “give up what you’re doing [with Google], but add to what you’re doing”.

He added that strategy leads at media agencies understand the need to shift away from the cookie and consider alternatives, but client teams are still resistant to moving swiftly to alternatives because it is inconvenient to work on cookieless campaigns.

“They are super busy; all the want is something that’s like two clicks,” he conceded, adding: “They will do it — as soon as the pipes are open.”

According to a survey conducted by YouGov in partnership with Taboola and released today, just 25% of advertisers said they are prepared for the deprecation of the cookie, with 46% saying they are happy about Google’s decision to delay the rollout.

44%, meanwhile, anticipated shifting adspend to different channels as the cookie phases out.

Fosci acknowledged: “If you have to ask them to test and split budgets and set up things differently, they’re not gonna be the first to move.”

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