This article is sponsored by Oracle.
If you spent most of 2020 counting down the days until 2021, then you’re not alone. For marketers, and almost everyone else for that matter, 2021 represents a hopeful restart – a potential shift back to normalcy, where budgets return to their pre-pandemic levels, plans are executed at a normal pace, and brands can begin to act on new ideas to recoup their losses from the last year.
While it’s true that 2021 may indeed bring all these things, it will also bring a new set of uncertainties. At the top of the list, this year will mark the end of an integral part of the online advertising ecosystem: third-party cookies and other similar universal identifiers that have, for a long time, served as the backbone of programmatic advertising.
Third-party cookies, in particular, have been the de facto delivery mechanism for audience data and targeting consumers online since 1995. Their removal from top internet browsers forces massive changes in how brands, advertisers, and publishers drive revenue and run digital ad campaigns. More broadly, the move sparks questions about the future of identity in the online ecosystem.
So, as we embark on a new year filled with immense change and more uncertainty, let’s explore what the future of identity looks like by examining four key questions.
1. First, how did we get here?
There’s a combination of forces driving the current shift away from third-party cookies to a more consumer-centric internet.
The first is heightened regulation around the collection and use of personal data, such as the EU General Data Protection Regulation (GDPR) and the California Consumer Privacy Act (CCPA). There also are restrictions on the collection and use of advertising identifiers imposed by the top consumer platforms and internet browsers such as Google Chrome, Apple Safari and Mozilla Firefox – all of which decided to sunset the third-party cookie in the interest of consumer privacy.
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