Democratising advertising & retailers’ preparations for the death of third-party cookies


Modern Retail spoke to Larraine Criss, Chief Operating Officer at Preciso, who discussed democratising advertising and retailers’ preparations for the death of third-party cookies.  

You integrated with Shopify earlier this year. What benefit does this offer retailers? 

We did, and this follows on from integrations with other ecommerce platforms, including Magento and BigCommerce. What this offers is a real-time bidding system that small and medium-sized retailers can use to deliver targeted display campaigns. Traditionally this has been difficult for small vendors that lack the in-house technology teams and large budgets to make this viable. Now they can take advantage of this advertising opportunity. 

It’s opening the market to smaller merchants, allowing them to adopt approaches previously only available to larger retailers with bigger budgets.  And in doing so, it’s giving them access to new audiences so they can grow their businesses. In essence, it’s democratising advertising, which can only be a good thing.  

As we approach the end of third-party cookies, are retailers prepared for this?  

60 to 70% of the market is ready. They’ve been planning and testing for some time around what they can do when cookies are phased out, so the majority are in a good position.

Those that aren’t ready fall into two camps. Some retailers are holding out because, after all the delays around cookies being killed off, they are convinced it still won’t happen. And for the others – often small merchants heavily reliant on advertising with Google and Facebook – they feel they don’t need to do anything. The fact that they are working with these giants makes them feel protected. 

But that’s only if they are 100% reliant on them.  If any part of their advertising campaigns requires them to work directly with a publisher, then this becomes a problem because they need a new approach to tracking first-party data and be able to pay the publisher based on this approach.

Do you think retailers will be in a better position in a post-cookie world?

For me, the big winners will be the walled gardens that are sitting on vast volumes of first-party data, and the privacy data management companies. 

Regarding retailers, I’d say they’ll be in a different position. It will be hard to adjust to what’s possible in a cookieless world in terms of targeting, performance measurement and reporting. I know of one e-commerce business that removed cookies seven years ago. They did this for two years but then reintroduced them because cookies gave them greater insights and control. While companies have been planning for the demise of cookies, we must be realistic and recognise that it will be harder. Retargeting and audience sharing will be affected, and carrying out performance marketing or guaranteeing performance will be much more difficult.  

How have you been helping your clients get ready for the death of third-party cookies?

We already offer server-to-server tracking to support them. By adopting this approach, the tracking tool doesn’t collect data directly from the user’s browser but is passed instead from another server. In doing so, it avoids the use of cookies.   

This means working closer with advertisers and merchants because, as an ad tech technology, we don’t have our own first-party data, so we depend on the clients’. It requires new agreements so we can implement the necessary pixels directly and access their first-party data to ensure campaigns can render in a similar manner to how they have in the past. 

Much of this work must be undertaken on the advertiser’s side, and they need to have the systems in place to manage their first-party data so the two servers can work together. This does mean there are time and cost implications around adopting server-to-server tracking. 

Our current approach to the demise of cookies is to take a neutral stance and work with clients however they prefer. We support them if they wish to continue using third-party cookies until this is not an option. But for those who prefer to start working exclusively with first-party data, then we are ready for this. 

As cookies die, we are seeing buyers and sellers having to work closer together, which is a good thing. As some of the complexities in delivering programmatic campaigns are caused by too many parties involved in the process, streamlining these is a positive.  

About Preciso:

Preciso is Europe’s fast-growing RTB marketplace, powered by its flagship Smart-Bid technology and delivering client campaigns in just a few easy clicks. Through use of actual customer journey and machine learning, Preciso technology predicts customer behaviour to calculate which display ad placement to buy in a real-time bidding marketplace – boosting relevance and conversion and putting the power back into the hands of advertisers. Founded in Italy by Piero Pavone, Preciso has expanded over the last few years and now has teams in 6 countries.