Better Targeting Without Cookies

Amidst all the fuss about cookies and whether advertisers would survive  with new regulations surrounding the use of third party cookies, Facebook has developed a demand-side platform that can target customers totally without cookies.  Not only that, but this platform can target a customer on or off Facebook, on mobile or desktop, and on any device.  Facebook will release the platform, which is called  Atlas,  at NYC Advertising Week.

The targeting is done through Facebook’s own data. For instance, if a customer buys something in a brick and mortar store and gives an email address, if that address is in any way associated with a Facebook account, that purchase can be used  can be used by Facebook to help assign the customer to the right categories for contextual ads. Bidders for advertising on RTB platforms and exchanges  now have a flexible tool with which they can set their parameters according to how valuable a customer could be to them. For other media companies besides Facebook and Google, this would also be a blessing.

Atlas is a step away from cookies, but it might be a step to something much more invasive, and we’ve heard that Google is also working on something like this. While Facebook had revenues last quarter of $2.3 billion, Google had closer to $14 billion, and Facebook would love to catch up.  Because we’ve been in this business a long time, we know that questions will be raised about privacy, mostly by people who remember growing up in an era where we actually had some. It is thought that younger people who have grown up with Facebook and other social networks that harvest personal data will have fewer concerns about the lengths to which advertisers will go to find their customers. We already see this as consumers get up in arms regularly about data breaches, but do not unplug from networks or sites that harvest personal data.

Consumers do say that they wouldn’t mind trading their information for truly contextual ads, since what’s happening right now is — according to anecdotal evidence, decidedly lacking. Who hasn’t bought a pair of shoes online from Zappo’s and been followed all over the web by ads for the shoes you just bought or some just like them?  Retargeting is first generation context. What if instead you were targeted