The cookie is under pressure.
On Tuesday, Amsterdam-based cross-device vendor Screen6 released a tool that CEO David de Jong says can add cookies to cross-device graphs in real time before they have a chance to decay.
Device fragmentation, Apple’s recent moves to prevent third-party tracking in iOS 11 and environments where there are no cookies, like in over-the-top, all strip away the value of a cookie, which was shaky to begin with.
Based on an analysis of its clients, Screen6 found that around 40% of cookies depreciate within 24 hours, which makes retargeting a crapshoot and takes the wheels off the bus in terms of frequency capping.
“If tech vendors can’t understand who they’re engaging with, then all of digital identity is essentially built on quicksand,” de Jong said. “But we also need to be able to make this data available as quickly as possible.”
Although Screen6 refreshes the data within its clients’ graphs on a daily basis, even that wasn’t fast enough. A significant number of cookies and device IDs the company would see within a 24-hour window were still slipping through the cracks. An impression would appear and disappear without ever being connected to an existing user or profile.
Screen6 is tackling that problem by attempting to connect cookies from never-before-seen users to known user profiles in real time. The moment Screen6 gets wind of an impression, it starts trying to resolve it with an existing persistent identifier through pattern recognition. The process happens within milliseconds.
Although not every match is correct – Screen6 uses a probabilistic methodology to develop its graphs – the company estimates that real-time matching boosts the number of addressable IDs it’s able to capture by 30%. In other words, a one-third increase in its ability to recognize an individual.
Platform161, a Dutch DSP, has been testing real-time resolution with its client M7 Group, a telco that operates a number of local brands across Europe, including an ISP in Holland called Online.nl.
Like most internet service providers, Online.nl is constantly on the hunt for new subscribers, but over the past year or so, the efficiency of its campaigns began to noticeably decline. When Platform161 starting digging in to find out why, it discovered that cookies were the culprit.
“They were becoming less and less reliable for us,” said Platform161 CEO Marco Kloots.
But by resolving unknown cookies to real users in real time, Platform 161 was able to more reliably identify which users not to retarget.
“We didn’t necessarily see an uplift in conversions, but there was much more efficient delivery on our media,” Kloots said. “We were able to spend less for the same results, because we were able to see device IDs more quickly and then stop delivering to those devices.”
And users benefit from more persistent cookie matching because it makes ads less annoying, de Jong said.
“In a world where there’s no ability to address individuals and understand their needs, it would be a free-for-all of irrelevant ads that are completely unrelated to a user’s interests,” he said.
But what about a world in which the General Data Protection Regulation is about the become the privacy law of the land in Europe? Screen6 is a European company, with a Europe-heavy client base.
As a data processor rather than a data controller, Screen6 relies on its partners to obtain consent, but the company makes an effort to ensure that its clients have the proper opt-ins through clauses written into their contracts and by liaising with the technical people on their team.
“Otherwise, we don’t want that data in our platform,” de Jong said. “Once that happens, it pollutes the source and then it becomes waste in and waste out.”