Nov 30 2021
Clare McKinley

Three Types of Identity Solutions to Consider in a Cookieless World


As the death of third-party cookies approaches, marketers are beginning to wade through a proliferation of new tools, partners, and processes that promise to pick up where cookies left off.  

While the marketing world transitions away from cookie-driven advertising and forges new best practices for targeting, winning brands will leverage a mix of trusted identity solutions to mitigate the loss of cookies. For the most part, these solutions fall into three categories: Addressable identity solutions, contextual advertising, and cohorts/Google’s Privacy Sandbox. Read on to learn about the benefits and drawbacks of each category. 

1. Addressable Identity Solutions 

Addressable identity solutions take a one-to-one approach to targeting. Walled gardens such as Facebook and Amazon use these solutions, as they typically result in the highest return on ad spend. They’re privacy-friendly, easy to measure, and—contrary to misconception—they scale. While addressable identity solutions aren’t available for every impression, they’re highly effective when used in tandem with other types of solutions. 

2. Contextual Advertising 

Contextual advertising sidesteps user data completely, instead using information about the content of a webpage to display contextually relevant advertisements. For example, if you’re reading an article about how to redecorate your home, a contextual advertising solution might place ads for furniture and home goods alongside that content. Contextual advertising is simple, cost-efficient, and scalable—on the other hand, it’s difficult to measure, resulting in a lower return on ad spend.  

3. Cohorts & Privacy Sandbox (FLoCs) 

In 2019, Google announced the Federated Learning of Cohorts (FLoC) as part of its Privacy Sandbox initiative. FLoC promises to group users into “cohorts” that are updated each week based on their interests, leveraging user data from browser histories rather than third-party cookies. Cohorts are an efficient identity solution with a lot of potential, but FLoC itself has received criticism for its potential to create new privacy risks for users. All in all, FLoC is still untested, and it means relinquishing control of your audiences to Google. 

For an in-depth look into the cookieless future, check out Navigating Identity and Addressability Without Third-Party Cookies