Posted on Jun 14, 2023

The Future of Digital Advertising Without Cookies

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Believe it or not, cookieless future is still on everyone’s radars in 2023. The data privacy landscape keeps changing, giving the push to the new online tracking technologies while leaving other ones in the past.

According to a study , over 90% of customers are bothered about their info that gets collected by advertisers. As a result of these issues, users and policymakers have begun to advocate for a cookieless advertising as one of the main programmatic advertising trend 2023.

Chrome again delayed Cookie shutdown until the second half of 2024. As well, last year Google Flock initiative was canceled as it failed to fight privacy problems. Many things have changed along the way, including the programmatic monetization strategies. For this reason, it is important to know what the advertising ecosystem has in store for now. Plus, we’ll tell you how SmartHub is processing this.

Advertising and marketing in a cookieless world: a new call for data privacy

So, what are cookies in the first place? Just to refresh our memory a bit – cookies are pieces of data created by a web server. Cookies are used to ‘memorize’ user preferences.

  • First-Party Cookies : First-party cookies are set by the website you are visiting. They are used to remember dataspecific to that website, like your login or items in your shopping cart.
  • Third-Party Cookies : Third-party cookies are set by domains other than the website you are visiting. They are often used by advertisers for online tracking of consumer behavior so that they can capture the data and use it for advertising purposes.

Example: a website may include ads from an ad network, and that ad network may set cookies to track your browsing habits across different sites.

Cookies eventually became the most valuable tool in the hands of digital advertisers who utilized them to deliver targeted ads. Supply partners apply those for web analytics and other purposes.

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When did the need for cookieless future advertising appear?

Unfortunately, some entities found a way to unethically leverage the cookie’s mechanism to compile user profiles for monetary gains. They obtained non-consensual access to demographic data, interests, lifestyle, and financial data of users; this led to a massive privacy breaches .

  • Google and Safari Cookie Controversy (2012): Google was found to have bypassed privacy settings in Apple’s Safari browser to place tracking cookies on users’ devices without their knowledge or consent.
  • Vizio Smart TV Tracking (2017) : Vizio, a smart TV manufacturer, was fined by the Federal Trade Commission (FTC) for secret online tracking of consumer behavior without their consent.
  • Facebook-Cambridge Analytica Scandal (2018) : In this widely publicized case, Cambridge Analytica, a political consulting firm, harvested personal data from millions of Facebook users without their consent.

Some brands see cookieless advertising solution as a single alternative to the one applying data from online mechanisms for tracking. Recently, many cookieless browsers have emerged

In February 2020, Google announced the shutdown of cookies in Chrome. They explained that this action was made to safeguard users who had requested additional data privacy. Currently, Google collaborates with advertisers to ensure that the transition has minimal impact on the advertising ecosystem.

This is understandable over 62% of the total browser user base, Chrome is the most renowned web browser. So going cookieless will impact the marketing industry, the revenues of a typical publisher, and the way we know technologies.

Impact of Cookieless Future on Advertising

The digital advertising industry, including programmatic advertising, has heavily relied on cookies to gain insight, run cross-site targeting, retargeting, and marketing attribution.

For example , according to a recent survey conducted in the United States, more than half of top marketers believe cookies are critical to their marketing approach. Another report claims that at least 80% of all marketers employ cookies.

Evolving into cookieless ads, cookieless attribution, and cookieless web analytics won’thappen without some temporary challenges and setbacks. Transparency has cost. According to a Google study on the influence of cookieless targeting, the most renowned 500 global ad publishers saw a 52% drop in ad revenue.

But advertisers have new ways to run cookieless targeting, cookieless retargeting, and cookieless attribution.

What is cookieless tracking?

This means adopting ad tracking and targeting solutions that do not require third-party cookies.

So how does cookieless tracking work?

Third-party cookies are being discarded, but it does not indicate that data gathering is becoming purposeless and eliminated. There are many other options for gathering and analyzing customer data for customized advertising, and proactive advertisers and adtech companies are already adopting cookieless tracking solutions and cookieless world marketing practices.

Switching to a cookie-free strategy will necessitate more than a few minor adjustments. Here are a few cookieless tracking solutions that show how cookieless tracking works.

What’s in cookieless advertising for 2023?

Advertising in a cookieless world is booming in 2023 and will keep evolving in the future.

Adopt consensual information gathering

Privacy data is important, and marketers need to adjust. How? – by making a direct request, informing them that you require their data for marketing purposes.

You may politely ask users to share their information in exchange for a reward to acquire consensual data. For example, you may give a discount or a free ebook to people who disclose their email addresses. Doing this helps you get data ethically, and with consent.

Contextual targeting is coming back

It never really went away!

Contextual targeting works with keywords and web content. So rather than target people based on their private info and preferences, you target them based on the preferred content sources.

With contextual targeting, a smartphone ad goes to a phone review website, and a shoe ad goes to a fashion website. This method will be a major programmatic ad trend in cookieless future advertising.

Advertisers can programmatically serve ads to publishers that have contents that are relevant to their ad. Users will be targeted based on the content they view.

Collaborating with Adtech companies

Gathering first-party data and consensual data tracking may be difficult and expensive for small marketers; this is where adtech companies with relevant resources can help out. Advertisers can engage the services of adtech companies and programmatic advertising to reach a large audience without infringing any privacy laws or regulations.

Let’s consider some of the cookieless advertising solutions.

Apple’s SkadNetwork

SkadNetwork was initiated in 2018 by tech giant Apple to promote cookieless attribution. SKAdNetwork is a privacy-friendly cookieless advertising solution for the attribution of mobile app installations. Its goal is to measure app downloads conversion rates (CPI) without violating users’ privacy.

What is cookieless attribution?

It means that marketers can measure their advertising campaigns’ performance and conversion rate without online tracking individual user data. Apple’s SkadNetwork is doing this by aggregating data directly from its app store facilitated by the Apple server, (which is disconnected from user identifiers).

Unified Identity

Adtech firms are coming together to develop the Unified Identity- as a replacement to cookie trackers but with stringent standards and procedures.

It will obtain authorization via a single cookieless authentication. A user is going to provide a single approval for getting personalized ads.


Alphabet Inc introduced the Privacy Sandbox as a robust initiative that will make Google cookieless. Google is arguably the biggest beneficiary if we talk about third-party cookies subject, so it need to be their initiative to provide an efficient cookieless advertising solution.

Google Privacy Sandbox is a collection of different projects aimed at facilitating user targeting without cookies or cross-site targeting. Proposed solutions from the Sandbox are not only initiated by Google but other partners. Some popular initiatives from Sandbox include FLEDGE and Topics API .

According to Google, the FLEDGE is aimed to enable cookieless retargeting and audiences creation. Topics API will enable interest-based advertisement without tracing a user’s web activity.

Both initiatives are being discussed.

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Specifics of Cookie Syncing on SmartHub

Ad tech platforms still largely rely on cookies – ad networks, ad exchanges, DSPs, SSPs, and DMPs. As the world hasn’t completed the shift to the cookieless targeting and attribution mechanisms, cookie syncing still plays an important role for the entire advertising infrastructure – it makes it possible to timely exchange data between platforms so that targeting remains relevant and effective.

SmartHub also uses cookie syncing technology that enables better targeting of audiences with online advertising. Right now, we are also in the process of preparing the cookie sync mechanism that will keep your SmartHub even more flexible and efficient.

What is cookie syncing and the specifics of cookie syncing on SmartHub?

Cookie syncing is a marketing technology that ensures that all the parties involved in an ad transaction have a common insight regarding who gets targeted. Cookie synchronization allows SSPs, DMPs, DSPs, and all other ad tech partners to match up the users in their databases, allowing for the delivery of tailored ads to each user.

Most ad tech platforms, such as ad networks, ad exchanges, DSPs, SSPs, and DMPs, depend on cookies to these days. Cookie synchronization is essential as the world hasn’t fully transitioned to cookieless targeting and attribution systems. Also, It allows for timely data exchange between platforms, ensuring that targeting stays relevant and effective.

Benefits of cookie syncing

Cookie syncing is essential for online advertising, it optimizes advertising process and promotes faster and better outputs. Here are some highlighted benefits.

Targeting and Retargeting

Cookie syncing is useful for targeting and retargeting campaigns since it allows advertisers to track a user’s location across the internet. When a person visits a website and interacts with an ad, the advertiser places a cookie on the user’s browser. If the same user visits other websites or apps that use cookie syncing, the advertiser may easily recognize them and target with tailor-made ads.

Detailed targeting

Cookie syncing makes it simple to target users based on key criteria such as interests, demography, and so on. Publishers can curate part of their users’ info based on their preferences and search queries. Cookie syncing is then used to transmit this information to the advertising ecosystem.

SmartHub also employs cookie sync enabling more precise audience targeting.

Where do we go from here?

Participants that take part in advertising and online marketing must take proactive steps to prepare for changes that will happen with third-party cookies.

Publishers should implement consent-giving mechanisms and monetize with contextual ads, while advertisers must move to different targeting and attribution.

Ensuring user privacy while serving ads is the main request of the cookieless future advertising era.

SmartHub team is currently elaborating on a cookie synchronization mechanism that will make your advertising ecosystem more flexible and efficient. Start your programmatic advertising journey with SmartHub!

Consider SmartHub your trusted partner

SmartHub white label ad exchange enables companies of different sizes and budgets with limited budgets to launch their own RTB marketplaces and enter the programmatic market ASAP (up to 7 days). Thanks to the rapid launch, companies can achieve payback and revenue growth much earlier than it is possible with platforms built from scratch. Explore our guide about how to get started with programmatic advertising.

Our unique model involves proactive customer care and support from a dedicated team of experts who go the extra mile to ensure exceptional business outcomes. With attentive support, expert guidance, and cost-cutting innovative technology, SmartHub delivers a powerful combination that propels your business towards spectacular results.

Explore the case studies of SmartHub with detailed description of our partners` programmatic business journey and impressive results.

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What is cookieless advertising and why is it important in today’s digital marketing landscape?
Marketers utilize cookies to deliver targeted ads. The cookieless world means that the traditional way of user targeting through cookies will no longer be viable. Therefore, advertisers need to adapt to a new environment in which they have limited access to user data and have to rely on alternative targeting methods.
Will cookieless advertising impact the effectiveness of digital ad campaigns?
Without cookies, monitoring consumer behavior and targeting specific audiences will be difficult for advertisers. This may lead to less precise ad targeting and a decrease in campaign performance. According to Google study on the impact of cookieless targeting, the advertising revenue of the top 500 global ad publishers decreased by 52%.
How can businesses transition to cookieless advertising?
In a cookieless world, there are multiple methods to target users. One of the most popular methods is contextual targeting, where ads are displayed based on the content of the website or app that the user is currently viewing. Moreover, advertisers can reach a large audience without violating any privacy laws or regulations by utilizing the services of adtech companies and programmatic advertising. These include cookieless advertising solutions like Apple’s SkadNetwork, Sandbox, etc.
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