Cookies, IDs, and Beyond!

Daniel Landsman
Global Director of Ad Tech Solutions
February 9, 2022|6 min read

Cookies – the little crumbs that websites drop from your browser – may seem insignificant, but they historically have played a large role online. For example, cookies may help log you into websites, increase levels of website personalization, or even enable retargeted advertising.

However, over the last few years, the use of personalized data, cookies, and device ids have become more controversial. As a result, new privacy regulations have been passed globally and the ad tech ecosystem voluntarily started making changes.

These changes prompt concerns for some about keeping up business as usual without the ability to leverage third-party cookies or deprecated device IDs. Pew Research finds that 79% of Americans say they are concerned about how companies use their data, 41% say they regularly delete cookies and 30% have installed Ad blockers. So what is one to do?Further reflecting the public concern was the passing of GDPR in the EU, which increases data privacy requirements. European regulators are also pressing for a complete ban on ad targeting.

Other countries are taking similar regulatory steps: Brazil’s Lei Geral de Proteção de Dados (LGPD) was modeled after the GDPR and is the first comprehensive general data protection law in Latin America; Singapore’s Personal Data Protection Act (PDPA) provides a protection standard for personal data; and India is proposing the Data Protection Bill, similar in some ways to the GDPR. In the U.S., California has approved the California Privacy Rights Act (CPRA) that builds on previous legislation and is more in line with the GDPR. In Virginia, some companies must give consumers the ability to control personal data that is collected under the Virginia Consumer Data Protection Act (VCDPA).

In addition, Google Chrome says it plans to end its third-party cookies support entirely by next year. After privacy advocates criticized its initial proposal for alternative cookies, Google now says “Topics” will give web advertisers the ability to target broad categories of users (“fitness,” “travel”) instead of grouping them together according to similar browsing histories.

We’ll see if history repeats itself, and Google holds firm to their timeline or kicks the can down the road again.Last year, when Apple asked users if they wanted phone apps to target them with ads, most users opted out. This App Tracking Transparency (ATT) now presents challenges to companies that want to employ mobile ads. In addition, Apple’s SKAdNetworks is a privacy-centric API operated by the company. It’s designed to help ad networks and advertisers measure ad activity on an aggregated level. Although rolled out in 2018, it wasn’t until 2021 that Apple began allowing advertisers to use postbacks or app installs.

While the absence of third-party cookies and the depreciation of device ids make it more challenging to target audiences at scale, there are still a plethora of methodologies that will allow advertisers and ad tech companies to assemble a layer cake of solutions. Some call it “graph stacking.” Here is a list of possible solutions.

  • First-Party Data/Authenticated Traffic.

    Both brand-side and publisher-side businesses have data about their customers and clients. Leaning into this data and activating on it is going to be an effective way to deterministically target your audience.

  • Second Party Data.

    Buying other people’s first-party authenticated data, so long as they possess the proper data rights to sell it, and you believe they have a similar audience.

  • Interest-based Ads.

    While Google is working on topics there are a lot of other companies that exist which could send you interest-based signals as well. Depending on how you merge these with other attributes could make your future targeting more successful.

  • AI and ML.

    Historically, many companies have overlaid some type of modeling. Maybe not AI or ML but still modeling to drive efficiency. Whether it be for better yield, better margin, traffic filtering, or better creatives. These same kinds of strategies can be expanded upon and opened up more for audience generation, segmentation, targeting.

  • Contextual Data/NLP.

    Knowing what someone is currently looking at on a page can also be a good indication of what could be something they are interested in. For example, if you are on a golf website, chances are good that you or someone you know likes golf. This can be expanded with NLP reading the website to understand what is on the page for better targeting.

  • Other Non-Cookie Based IDs

    Currently, there are companies trying to create synthetic IDs to mimic what device ids and cookies were doing. Some are calling this probabilistic, others are referring to it as something else. But, the ways with which it is assembled and determined are all proprietary to each respective company moving in these directions. These ids are still quite new and still need to be proven out more.

While there is no silver bullet when it comes to replacing third-party cookies, there are viable options that businesses can use to successfully target their customers with products and services. The key, of course, is having a way to collect critical customer information in a way that is reliable, fast and affordable. Here’s how Aerospike can help:

  • Improve the customer experience.

    Companies need platforms that can reliably and quickly deliver data critical to consumer personalization, customer 360 and recommendation engines. Aerospike’s real-time data platform, for example, is able to process data at the edge and combine it with system-of-record data to power recommendation engines.


    shows that product recommendations boost product sales by 11%.

  • Power AI/ML.

    Aerospike can efficiently power the AI/ML inference models at petabyte scale that underpin e-commerce and retail systems of engagement apps for real-time decisions with a fraction of the servers of other technologies.

  • Store more data.

    Your business may have relied on third-party cookies to gain customer insights, but now you will need to rely more on the data your business collects. User profile information will be critical, and Aerospike has been the core user profile store for many companies such as Xandr and The Trade Desk.

  • Provide reliability for less money.

    Aerospike provides 99% of reads/writes in under one millisecond and predictable low latency at high throughput. This enables businesses to more easily build large-scale applications at a lower cost.

Costs will rise as businesses are forced to process larger amounts of data from their own customers and at the same time purchase information that can give them additional insights. However, your SLAs can be kept in check and you can meet the challenges of a cookieless future by using Aerospike’s proven, reliable, super-fast and consistent real-time data platform.

Learn more about how Aerospike is powering AdTech Solutions with Real-Time Data.