Rumors Of The Demise Of Cookies And Banners Have Been Greatly Exaggerated

The Sell Sider” is a column written by the sell side of the digital media community.

Today’s column is written by Erik Requidan, vice president of programmatic strategy at Intermarkets.

In advertising, we just love the death watch. Publishers often hear rumors like “Desktops are dead!” How many times have we heard the bell toll now?

Lately, the morbidity has a split focus: The banner and the cookie, it would seem, are taking their final breaths.

Not so fast, I say. Not. So. Fast.

If banners are dead, why is the digital display market predicted to top $48 billion this year? And cookies? Saying cookies are dead is like saying gasoline doesn’t power 90% of the cars on the road right now.

Let’s start with banners. If you look at almost any webpage, I think you could still spot something that could be defined as a banner, though we now call it “display advertising.” Display advertising represents sophisticated multimedia ad formats that appear (ideally) to a qualified user, in a good place, at a relatively good time and on one or several devices via the magic of programmatic technology.

The technology behind what we used to call a banner has changed dramatically. The tech is data-driven and dynamic. It can be personalized in ways we could not even fathom 20 years ago. But the fact that banners have been replaced by units that are more effective than what they once were doesn’t mean they’re dead. It means they’ve evolved.

As the industry matures, technology, strategies and tactics evolve along with it. That’s the opposite of death; it’s growth.

And how about cookies? Has the cookie, in fact, crumbled? Not really.

Yes, we’re developing promising new attribution models across the industry. And yes, device IDs are more promising in mobile environments. Sure, addressable and people-based marketing may be the way of the future. But cookies still have their place.

Just like desktop isn’t dead, consumers still use desktops – a lot, most often laptops (isn’t that mobile?). Many of us rely on them from sun-up ‘til sundown when toiling away at the office, in which case, cookies are still great.

While predictions abound that cookies will be gone by year’s end, I don’t think that’s going to happen. I don’t think this workhorse is ready to go to pasture just yet.

The best targeting and attribution models may require a healthy balance of cookies, user IDs and other user-attributed solutions. Many marketers don’t want to use a one-to-one ID. Third-party and second-party data are still valuable in some cases.

I recently spent the afternoon with the head of digital investment for a major holding company. Both as publisher and agency speaking candidly with each other, we agreed that we are seeing the industry maturing and improving. It’s not about anything dying. This is what evolution looks like.

And just like we still have our appendix and pinky toe, I believe we’re still going to have cookies and banners around for a few more internet generations. That’s not a bad thing.

Follow Erik Requidan (@Requidan), Intermarkets (@intermarkets) and AdExchanger (@adexchanger) on Twitter.

Enjoying this content?

Sign up to be an AdExchanger Member today and get unlimited access to articles like this, plus proprietary data and research, conference discounts, on-demand access to event content, and more!

Join Today!

1 Comment

  1. So many great points Erik. Those that make the “_ are dead” predictions are more often than not the same people who have a vested interest in some competitive solution. my absolute favorite is, the banner ad is dead argument and then using their new ad formats CTR to defend that position. Most have moved well beyond CTR being a proxy for campaign success…

    The cookie most certainly is not dead. However I would say that there’s absolutely no question that it’s value is depreciating and going forward both brands and publishers need to figure out how to connect those cookies to something more durable and deterministic. In an increasingly performance focused world, that’s likely the only way to actually prove media efficacy.