What’s the Big Cookie Deal? The Conspiracy and First Party Ad Serving.

What’s all the hype about the cookie?  Nobody wants one.  People are willing to pay money to avoid getting one and even more money to get rid of one.  But why is a cookie so evil?  Bottom line, nobody cares to know why anymore.  It is too late for explanations.  I love how ‘advocates for the cookie’ believe that there is still hope and that we just need to explain the benefits and people will calm down.  It is too late to educate the public.  You can’t stop the mob from running for the door after someone yells “fire!” in a movie theatre.  And you can’t convince people that the cookie is harmless or that it has benefits after ad-ware companies like Webroot have spent millions telling them otherwise.


We know there will always be a time and place for cookies.  We know that cookies have their use and value.  Granted third-party cookies – a cookie written by a third party ad server – are getting deleted at an increasing rate.  40% of the time according to Jupiter Research.  But first-party cookies are not.  Retailers don’t have that much to worry about.  CRM systems are relatively safe.  Ad-ware software does not delete the Yahoo! cookie on my computer that takes me directly to my stock portfolio or my bank cookie.


But what about those third party cookies?  Those are the cookies that tell us how our online advertising is doing.  We invest in online advertising now and we spend money advertising through third party ad servers.  Remember the advocates who said that we need to educate the public about cookies?  Let’s educate ourselves instead.  Let’s examine the actual cookie-benefits that we are losing as marketers in contrast to the benefits lost by the third party ad servers – the dominant ones anyway.  Get those wheels turning, someone else’s agenda might be at work here…you have options that have not been illuminated before now.


Ad-ware programs remove known cookies.  Software publishers know the dominant third party ad server cookies and they are continuously looking for and deleting other ad-related cookies.  If you serve ads through a third party ad server, and that provider’s cookies are known by ad-ware publishers, that cookie will likely get deleted.  The result is that you will lose the benefits associated with third party ad serving cookies.  You lose the ability to accurately count the click-thru and apply closed-loop tracking.  You can’t measure the view-through.  You can’t target your ads, serve unique banners or story-board a banner sequence.  You lose all the benefits of third party ad serving with the exception of centralized campaign management and impression counting!


But what about the third party ad servers?  What do they lose?  The dominant third party ad servers (like DoubleClick and Atlas) lose the ability to offer you everything described above.  But they lose something else, perhaps something of greater value to them.  They lose the ability to place a persistent cookie on a browser and send it out onto the internet like a satellite into space that is always reporting back.  The persistent cookie survives beyond your ad campaign.  It is this cookie that enables an IP address to be profiled and tracked over the life of that cookie – perhaps over weeks, months or even years.  The persistent cookie is the data-gathering vehicle that enables these ad servers to create great knowledge about web users.  The dominant third party ad server owns its customers’ performance data.  It provides customers with aggregate reports but keeps the raw log files for itself.  It keeps the cookie data.  It keeps the data that extends far beyond your advertising campaign.  Ad-ware takes all of that away from third party ad servers. 


So let’s get back to your agenda and forget about third party ad servers who are obviously not focused on serving you.  You can reclaim and preserve the cookie-benefits of advertising online by changing cookies, perhaps frequently.  Remember, Ad-ware programs remove known cookies.  So you need to use unknown cookies and then change them before they become know.  How do you change cookies?  You have to change the domain from which you serve ads and write cookies.  How do you do that?  You have to use an ad server that is capable of and willing to use their ad serving engine to serve ads through any domain as opposed to their own; an ad server that is willing to sacrifice the data that they once valued so dearly.  You have to use an ad server that supports your agenda and s will to be a first party ad server!


The dominant third party ad servers have been telling you what you can do and how you can do it since the beginning of online advertising.  Has it ever occurred to you that you could set the terms of your ad serving relationship?  Internet users want to take back their desktop, maybe it is time for online marketers to take back the value of ad serving.

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