Preparing For a Cookieless Future: Cohort-Based Advertising
Cookieless 03.07.2024

Preparing For a Cookieless Future: Cohort-Based Advertising

Subscribe and listen


This episode of Sunny Side Up discusses the impending deprecation of third-party cookies and its impact on digital advertising. Gareth Noonan of Demandbase explains how the industry is transitioning from individual-level targeting to cohort-based advertising using signals like topics of interest. He reassures listeners that partners like Demandbase are prepared to guide customers through the changes. Some key takeaways are the importance of building first-party data and understanding context to reach audiences in a cookieless world. The discussion provides useful insights for marketers to consider as they prepare their strategies for the future of digital marketing.

Best Moments

00:38 –  Gareth Noonan provides a concise overview of the history and timeline of third-party cookie deprecation.
02:35 –  Chris Moody notes his surprise at others being caught off guard by the changes, given how long they've been discussed.
04:47 –  Gareth reassures listeners that technology partners like Demandbase have been preparing for years.
10:10 –  Gareth discusses key differentiators for B2B advertisers in a post-cookie world.
14:15 –  Gareth emphasizes the importance of understanding context and alternative identifiers to reach audiences.
17:39 –  Gareth predicts increased specialization and thought leadership as the industry adapts.

About the guest

Gareth Noonan is the GM of Advertising at Demandbase. He is a proven leader in managing cross-functional international teams and owning profitable P&Ls for business units generating $100M+ revenue. His areas of expertise include- Programmatic Strategy, Operations, Business Development & Product for mobile app and desktop video, OTT, native, and display across all screens.

Connect with Gareth Noonan

Key takeaways

  • Third-party cookies will be gradually phased out of Chrome starting in 2024
  • Advertising will shift from individual targeting to cohort-based using topics of interest
  • B2B advertising may be more resilient due to alternative signals like IP addresses  
  • Focus on building first-party data through consented lists and account-based strategies
  • Understand the context of where your audiences consume information
  • Partner with experts who are actively preparing for a cookieless future


“We need to look at alternative identity identifiers and alternative identity providers. And so these can be thought of as companies that are bringing together signals and identifiers that don’t depend on cookies.”

Highlights from this episode

How did we get here with cookie deprecation and what do you think is starting to happen?

Gareth explained that we’ve been moving towards cookie deprecation for around six or seven years now. Safari was the first browser to disable third-party cookies back in around 2015. Then Firefox followed in 2019. In 2020, Google announced Chrome would also begin phasing out third-party cookies and engaged with the industry to develop alternative approaches. In 2022, Google definitively set a timeline to start gradually removing third-party cookie support in Chrome starting in January 2024, to complete the transition by the end of 2024.

Why do you think some people seem caught off guard given it’s been discussed for years?

Gareth provided insightful perspective on why some marketers seem surprised by cookie deprecation, despite it being discussed for several years. He acknowledged that ad tech represents just one small part of the many responsibilities lower-to-mid level marketers must juggle daily. As such, the highly technical nuances of third-party cookies and the digital advertising ecosystem are not top of mind or core expertise for most. Additionally, when major browsers first forecasted the 2024 timeline many years in advance, that distant deadline likely felt abstract and unimportant compared to more pressing concerns. Further, a pattern of postponed deadlines over the years likely bred complacency, as some assumed the changes may never fully materialize. In summary, Gareth offered a sympathetic yet pragmatic view of why such a transformational shift did not command universal attention, given competing priorities and a history of delayed implementation.

What will the impact be for users and B2B advertisers?

For users, Gareth explained they will likely see more contextual advertising initially, seeing ads relevant to the topics they are consuming content about on different sites. Users may also still be targeted on a first-party basis if they have previously consented and opted-in to communications from a company.

For B2B advertisers, Gareth believed the impact may be less severe compared to B2C initially. This is because in B2B, platforms like Demandbase utilize signals beyond cookies, like IP addresses mapped to companies and segmentation data. This allows for more accurate account-based advertising even without cookies. Gareth also noted technologies from Google’s Privacy Sandbox like Topics API and Protected Audiences that aim to still enable some targeted advertising without cookies.

What are some key points of differentiation that B2B advertisers should look for?

Some key points of differentiation Gareth stressed that B2B advertisers should look for include:

– Ensuring the platform/technology is specifically focused on B2B outcomes, realities and use cases rather than B2C

– Ability to target accounts and eliminate waste by associating users with target companies/accounts via signals like IP addresses

– Leveraging alternative identity identifiers and providers beyond cookies to continue reaching audiences

– Extensive first-party data collection and consented lists to supplement targeting

– Understanding the context of where decision-makers consume information via sites/content profiles

– Expertise and specialization in B2B signals and segmentation data like firmographics, technographics, etc.

What should businesses be doing now to prepare if they haven’t started projects yet?

Gareth offered prudent guidance for any businesses just now embarking on preparations for the cookieless future of digital marketing. He strongly recommended partnering with an expert partner who has demonstrated foresight by actively working towards solutions for years alongside leading industry bodies. Marketers should make an urgent priority of enriching their first-party data treasure troves. Capturing opt-ins and registrations through well-crafted account-based campaigns will be pivotal for maintaining addressable audiences. Additionally, Gareth advised diving deep into comprehending the nuanced technical details of Google’s Privacy Sandbox and other emerging specifications. Only with a deep contextual understanding of where target decision-makers engage can marketers hope to remain relevant without cookies. By taking these proactive steps now with the assistance of prescient partners, even late-starting firms can gain a semblance of readiness for the impending seismic changes.

What are the most likely next steps and timing around cookie deprecation?

Gareth outlined the following likely next steps and timing around cookie deprecation:

– Chrome started gradually removing third-party cookie support in January 2022, starting with around 1% of users (30 million people). This percentage will increase throughout the year.

– Users will begin seeing notifications from Chrome about the changes and being opted into alternatives like Topics API and Protected Audiences. Users can also opt out of these.

– Throughout 2022 it will be a period of testing and learning as companies experiment with new approaches and understand available signals. Results so far have shown mixed performance and less available data.

– Specialization within the industry is expected to increase, with thought leadership emerging around different companies’ strengths in areas like B2B vs B2C.

– Demandbase will focus on educating customers through content, events, and customer support and demonstrating their B2B-focused solutions and readiness.

Demandbase image

Sunny Side Up

B2B podcast for, Smarter GTM™

This article was published in:

More like this
Demandbase image
Demandbase image