How Dish Uses Non-Cookie Browser Data To Recognize Online Audiences

Dish Network hopes to perform attribution and cross-device targeting using non-cookie-based browser data, said Brad Stamulis, Dish’s director of digital marketing.

The satellite TV provider is using a solution called fTrack, from online ad platform Flashtalking, which recognizes consumers based on about 50 data points – including browser type, user location, screen size and orientation, clock details, battery details and CPU speed.

So when visitors who reject cookies arrive at Dish’s website, Flashtalking aggregates those 50 or so browser traits and matches them to its database of profiles. If it identifies a match, Dish can continue targeting or performing attribution without the cookie.

Since Dish began using the product last summer, it has generated 40% more on-site associations, Stamulis said.

Non-cookie-based targeting is increasingly necessary as major browsers reduce cookie retention time.

That situation is a problem for Dish, since the average customer acquisition funnel lasts two to six weeks, Stamulis said, so the diminishing lifespan of a cookie disconnects upper-funnel activity from its attribution.

“It’s hard to know how long the funnel really is with the challenges in connecting views and conversions,” he said.

And as Dish does more upper-funnel branding with digital video – particularly in-app video, where there are no cookies – the gap widens between the content that first puts the brand into consideration and an eventual purchase.

Using fTrack also incrementally improved attribution from in-app traffic, which doesn’t support cookie tracking. But Flashtalking was able to match app audiences to its device profiles.

“We were basically not doing in-app inventory for a while because we couldn’t stitch it back to view-based conversions and down-funnel activity,” Stamulis said.

Beyond attribution, Dish was also able to send out more ads designed to drive conversions.

For instance, satellite TV customers disproportionately sign up over the phone, Stamulis said. This makes cookie-tracking particularly valuable because when Dish places a mobile site visitor in its marketing funnel, it offers a click-to-call number to convert.

But now people who reject cookies still get the click-to-call prompt if Dish matches the browser characteristics with Flashtalking’s profiles of previous campaign targets.

“Someone coming to is the last step for us, not the first step, like it is for many brands, so we need to be able to recognize them,” Stamulis said.

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  1. Professional Market

    Not sure how this would work at all without cookies. What is the catalyst for bidding? Is it bidding through device ID? Even in this article it says it is matching back to a profile. Really hard to believe this targeting doesn’t use any cookies.

  2. Steven Bintley

    This can not be legal and is so black-hat it will attract unwanted attention to our industry…and don’t even mention GDPR.

  3. To clarify, Dish uses cookieless tracking solely to improve cross-device match rates and for better multi-touch attribution – not audience buying. A more accurate and holistic view of the customer journey results in better attribution, which in turn enables better media optimization. Hope this clarifies.

  4. fTrack was designed in Germany to comply with strict data privacy regulations. Probabilistic device recognition is based on 50+ non-PII signals. No PII is accessed or stored and users who opt-out through ad choices are coded as do-not-track, without relying on a DNT cookie.