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Media executives: Act like the cookie is already dead

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Jun 23, 2023
The Weather Company CEO Sheri Bachstein and Axios' Kerry Flynn sitting at a table

The Weather Company CEO Sheri Bachstein and Axios' Kerry Flynn. Photo: Matthieu Roggero on behalf of Axios

Even though some marketers and publishers predict the end of internet tracking cookies may not come for another three to five years, some have started acting like it's already gone.

Driving the news: About a dozen marketers convened to discuss a path forward for digital ads at a brunch in Cannes, hosted by Axios.

Why it matters: Last year's $2.7 billion Dotdash Meredith deal in part stemmed from the bet that publications with strong brand loyalty will succeed in the cookie-less future.

What they're saying: "Working with clients, I think the assumption is cookies are dead. They're going into the situation not even thinking about cookies," said Piper Goodspeed, global head of client partnerships and experience at media production company Helo who previously worked at Condé Nast.

  • "This is how magazines work, for the last 100 years," Dotdash Meredith CEO Neil Vogel said. "This is how TV works. This is how everything works. For some reason, the internet works differently based on this, like, insane spider web to figure out who someone is. Why does it have to be that way?"
  • "We actually should be operating like the cookie's already gone," The Weather Company CEO Sheri Bachstein said. "This has made all of us lean in and innovate so that we're now in control of our destiny."

Zoom in: Dotdash Meredith recently launched a new ad-targeting tool called D/Cipher that doesn't rely on internet tracking cookies or first-party data, Sara Fischer reported.

  • With the tool, advertisers can target ads to users based on intent or what other topics Dotdash Meredith's technology believes would match. The recommendations are based on aggregate, anonymized user data the company collects across its sites.

Of note: Some marketers at the table shared that the end of cookies does not impact certain places they are already working, notably audio and gaming.

  • "It's never been something to worry about," said Steve Dunlop, CEO of ad tech company A Million Ads. "When I think about monetization environments, what we've got to make those ads effective, context is the big one."
  • "Hyper casual games, such as design-your-home, women spend hours on these games, and it's another way to think about your brand," said Gina King, chief community officer of early-stage venture capital firm Supernode Global. "Think about marketing in a way that's not based on cookies, but it's based on interest."
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