In the digital world, ‘cookies’ refers to a small piece of data sent from a website and stored on the user’s computer. Cookies are made to be a reliable mechanism for websites to remember useful information and record the user’s browsing activity. In the past, advertisers utilizing Demand-Side Platforms (DSPs) relied heavily on cookies to target relevant users and one of the several pieces of data science that make up the digital landscape. But that’s all changing.

What Is the Cookie Crumble?

Privacy is a growing concern for users across the web. Major web browsers are responding, as Google Chrome, Safari, and Firefox are now phasing out third-party cookies. In turn, audience-targeting methods based on browsing history are becoming less effective. So what can DSP users do now that cookies are crumbling?

How the Phasing Out of Cookies Impacts DSPs

In the dynamic world of paid media, the cookie crumble is one of the greatest shifts. Advertisers who rely heavily on DSPs are seeking new solutions in the evolving digital landscape. The first step is to identify how cookies have been utilized, along with the impact of losing those capabilities.

  • Tracking: DSP users can’t target audiences based on browsing history.
  • Attribution: DSP users can’t see where conversions are coming from.
  • User Preferences: DSP users can’t personalize ads with a high degree of confidence.

It can be overwhelming for a DSP user to navigate these obstacles. But there are workarounds. It’s up to advertisers to adapt and develop new ways of targeting users and measuring performance. Let’s discuss a few ideas.

Adaptive Marketing Strategies for DSP Users

Despite the challenges faced in the cookie-less void, there are several tactics DSP users can utilize:

  1. Take Advantage of First-Party Data: Leveraging first-party data (collected directly from users through owned channels) becomes increasingly valuable. DSP users should prioritize building and enriching first-party data assets to fuel their advertising efforts. First-party data can range from customer-retention lists (CRMs), website conversion data, or creative engagement. DSP users can also create lookalike (LAL) segments to expand targeting without using cookie data.
  2. Explore Targeting Options: DSP users can harness the power of contextual targeting by focusing on content or keywords instead of users. Ads are placed based on the content of the web page rather than user behaviors, allowing advertisers to reach relevant audiences without relying on cookie tracking. Additionally, DSP users can apply negative keywords and layer on brand safety to avoid exposure to unfavorable content.
  3. Identity Solutions: Several DSPs have already been proactive in creating identity solutions. Unified ID 2.0, or UID2, has been developed by the Trade Desk and relies on hashed and encrypted email addresses voluntarily provided by users, allowing advertisers to target and measure campaigns without compromising privacy. 
  4. Diversify Measurement: Incorporating a mix of different measurements like brand lift studies, surveys, or multi-touch attribution models allows the advertiser to evaluate campaign performance across different metrics beyond cookie-based tracking. In turn, DSP users gain a more comprehensive understanding of their campaign’s effectiveness.
  5. Collaborate With SSPs and Publishers: Partnering with publishers and supply-side platforms (SSPs) gives advertisers access to more first-party data and proprietary contextual targeting. This provides valuable insight into audience demographics and interests, enabling a more relevant campaign. DSP users should also implement supply path optimizations during campaign flights. 


Navigating the cookie crumble is a daunting task. However, with proper research and strategy, advertisers can develop innovative strategies for targeting relevant audiences within DSPs while adhering to user privacy. The key is to adapt and grow alongside the evolving digital marketplace.

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