Just as many Europeans are about to jet away for holiday, the news broke that British Airways faces a $230m fine for a breach of data regulations. It’s the largest fine of its type since GDPR was introduced and shows that personal data privacy is mainstream news.

With GDPR and ePrivacy now really hitting home, we can be sure that ads based around 3rd party cookies are living on borrowed time. What’s more, with brands seeing their ads pop up in the weirdest – or innapropriate – places, advertisers deserve better.

1st vs. 3rd part cookies

But often cookies being used for good reason. When a website uses 1st party cookies to improve the experience of a site, it’s generally to the advantage of a user. Be it bringing related content to the forefront, saving payment details, or bypassing the login process, having a website know who we are has many advantages.

It’s when 3rd parties get their hands-on cookie data that users start to suffer. 3rd party cookies, and the strange stalker-like behaviour (retargeting) they enable is the most visible, and most palpably annoying manifestation of adtech for consumers.

In fact, it’s not that effective for advertisers either. The opaque way in which ad exchanges operate mean that brands lose sight of their ads, as they disappear off into the murky corners of the internet. Publishers themselves end up with jarring ads on their sites, which bear little resemblance to the other content. And let’s face it, since users hate them it’s not ideal for brand building.

Let’s put this in context

Bringing the details of a website’s content into the ad buying equation enables us to understand a crucial element – context.

Recent advances in machine learning and NLP mean we’re now able to drill down into content in real-time, to a microscopic level, instantaneously. So, web pages under categories like entertainment, specific sports, and lifestyle categories can be reached.

As a result, there’s no need to blanket black-list entire publisher sites, eg in the area of news. We can now unbundle these publishers to get to brand safe articles and pages. For example, ad buyers can avoid negative sentiment environments by opting out of all pages that feature suffering, or disaster. They can also buy ads in places where they know relevant users will be browsing.

Squaring the circle

Furthermore, there is a way to use contextual targeting and first party cookies together, by marrying the benefits of 1st party cookie user experience, with an ad targeting technique that makes sense: combining contextual data targeting with 1st party cookies.

Logged in user data offers rich, accurate and useful information ranging from demographic to interest, to user habits. Some forward-thinking publishers use DMPs – like Permutive – to apply look-a-like modelling to expand these segments and apply the insights to non-logged in users. Now we have quality and scale.

Combine this with contextually packaged ad segments, and you have a model which supplies non-invasive and GDPR-compliant targeting. So ads are being seen by the right people, and in a relevant context.

This newly curated inventory can be sold easily via a Private Marketplace [PMP] established with a favoured sell/buy side partner.

vi surfaces these contextual interest groups, marries them with 1st party DMP data, sets up PMPs and passes the contextual information and brand safety metrics in its bid requests.

Everyone wins:

– users get to watch video content that compliments text articles and accept contextually relevant brand messages as part of the experience.

– Publishers boost user engagement extract more value from their most prized video inventory.

– Brands know their messages are surfaced in-context and without violating consumer privacy.

Context is everything. Now let’s hit the beach.