Big news today from Firefox. Mozilla has announced a delay in their auto-blocking of third party cookies, instead testing a feature that will allow users to turn on blocking in their browser. The fuss around the upcoming blocking of third party cookies has been a major talking point for months among advertisers and publishers who were scrambling to find a way to compensate for the loss of tracking data.
The delay is only a delay, however, and Mozilla sources have indicated that they do intend to go forward with strong consumer privacy measures. In the blog post, Mozilla explained that they want to test the upcoming patch (authored by Mozilla engineer Jonathan Mayer) before putting it into full production. The patch attempts to block cookies based on whether or not a user has visited a site before and was returning too many false positives, something that did not make for a good user experience.
“For those who read this as Mozilla softening our stance on protecting privacy and putting users first, in a word: no. “
The display market should consider this only a reprieve and must use this time to develop alternative measures. It’s clear that third party cookies will not be around forever, nor will they be as effective as they have been in years past. Firefox, Safari and Microsoft’s new privacy push are sounding the death knell on third party cookies. Information gathered will be fuzzy, short-term and harder to measure. It is time for an evolution in the market.
Trueffect uses first-party cookies in its ad tracking, meaning that when Firefox begins blocking third party cookies, our clients will remain largely immune. It’s just another advantage to the robust strength of first-party technology. We’ve seen that using first-party cookies expands measurement, targeting and data security in addition to increased longevity and recognition rate (across devices and browsers) for optimal campaign success.
Better data is good for everyone: advertisers, publishers and consumers. Buying and placing ads based on first-party data optimizes spend for better performance, allows for more accurate pricing and more relevant consumer views.
Michael Greene's recent article in Digiday on Ad Tech’s Got a Business Model Problem caught my attention as it shines a spotlight on some of the critical issues of the industry and got me thinking about why we still hanker after a business model that is volume not value based. We got here in an odd way. When bandwidth was $100 per mbps all media was “costed” because of the file size. Today, there is so much association to that legacy model that while we can get to value, the market continues to be myopically focused on this outdated model (believe me I’ve tried). We actually offer license based pricing which on uptake is very much the exception than the norm.
Michael is right – this is more about business value. However, I also think some of the challenges are not readily fixed in the current third-party models. We filter bots and spiders – no problem, we eliminate edge cases. However, don’t be fooled. If you use third-party technologies and you cap frequency, it cannot be properly controlled at network levels (or in mobile). The current infrastructure is fractured and when the latest Firefox 22 initiative is complete, it’s closer to amputation. These issues layer on top of each other and the market continues to move away from business metrics to vaguely directional marketing indicators.
However, while that is the norm there are quite a few folks happily capitalizing on the inefficiencies in the market to make bank. They are using data for illumination not simply justification and they are aligned to business KPI’s. It’s much like Moneyball, but without Michael Lewis blowing the lid on it!
Trueffect employees spoke out twice today and were published in Adotas on their perspective on the privacy changes that Firefox is making in their release due out this spring namely Version 22 whose key change is not accepting third party cookies.
First-Party cookie is one from a domain with which you have deliberately established a relationship
Portals and other ad networks that have direct relationships with consumers stand to be the big winners: Google, Yahoo, Facebook, Amazon, etc.
I also wrote up a quick perspective published in an article entitled Today’s Burning Question: Firefox To Block Third-Party Cookies By Default. I started just a couple of weeks ago as CMO at Trueffect. I was included in an article providing different perspectives from experts in the industry from companies that are impacted in differing ways by this change. I hit on a similar theme to Will with:
“In the marketplace, consumers have relationships with brands and their content and services (first-party relationships using first-party technology). This relationship is clearly based on trust that has been developed between the two parties and a clear and transparent give and take transaction.”
and then contrast that to the alternate model which is equally apparent in the marketplace:
“Contrarily, in more and more transactions on the Internet, there are intermediary advertising solutions where there is significant ambiguity with regard to data practices and whether there is adequate notice, choice and consent as to how consumer’s data is being managed and proliferated. The fact that consumers do not have relationships in any form with these companies causes concern for consumers around their data and privacy.”
It will be interesting to see how the Firefox Third-Party cookie blocking release takes place and follow the reactions from the industry and other parties that may either follow suit or adapt in the coming months.