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    The Drum’s Media Summit: what happens after the cookies have crumbled?

    Experts join us to untangle the issue of the third-party cookie phase-out, looking at the opportunities in a new privacy-centric world.

    The deprecation of the cookie has been kicked down the road a few times as Google delays implementing the change. For marketers, that has been both a blessing and a curse; at the last delay announcement in July, the IAB UK’s Jon Mew urged marketers to use the time wisely.

    He argued: “By being proactive and adopting alternative ways to effectively target and measure campaigns – regardless of this delay – businesses are not only future-proofing their operations but making sure they are in line with our increasingly privacy-first present.”

    At The Drum’s Media Summit today (November 2), a panel of experts joined us to untangle the technical aspects of cookie deprecation from the very real challenges of privacy and personalization. Marketers, they tell us, are increasingly asking if the death of the third-party cookie is not an existential threat so much as an opportunity.

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    Jamie Barnard, the chief exec of Compliant, notes that the great opportunity for advertisers is to transition from adhering to the rules around GDPR from a strictly commercial imperative to a moral one. All of our guests, meanwhile, argue that there is a need to engage with consumers in a way that adds value to their experience, rather than simply by adhering to the letter of the law

    However, one of the sticking points around cookie deprecation has been articulating the value exchange with consumers. A proportion of internet users have leaned into the ‘blanket’ approach imposed by the UK government and simply opt out of everything for the sake of ease. Even in the US, where roughly half of users instead opt in to all cookies, lack of knowledge is rife: only 13% of US consumers described their understanding of cookies as ‘very good’, while more than a third (34%) say it’s not very good or not good at all.

    But while the industry recognizes the need for cookie alternatives that cater to users’ privacy concerns and the needs of advertisers, there is still clarity required around what alternatives can fulfill both those needs.

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    Our panel argues that there are already workable solutions when it comes to personalization, from contextual advertising to location data. Ben Fenster, co-founder of Anzu, notes in particular that more tech-savvy audiences recognize the value inherent in that sort of personalization – especially when it doesn’t breach the public’s right about data.

    And the stark reality of the ’lazy’ way in which marketers have thought about use of consumer data is brought home by Barnard, who references the bounty system in use in anti-abortion rights states in the US as an example of data overreach and misuse.

    There is still plenty of work to be done from government, platforms and marketers to ensure that the issue of cookie deprecation does not impede marketing activities. But as the best agencies and brands already understand, the real opportunity is in building a trusted relationship with online audiences. Cookies are a useful tool, but ultimately the relationship between brand and audience is paramount.

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