Beet.TV: Contextual Targeting Will Rise As Cookies Fade

August 31, 2020

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As featured on Beet.TV


Online audience tracking is undergoing a major upheaval as consumers demand more control over their personal privacy, challenging the adtech industry to develop better ways to help marketers reach target consumers. Digital publishers that deliver those viewers to advertisers aren’t immune to the upheaval as contextual targeting becomes more pronounced.

For mobile ad exchange Kargo, the recent acquisition of adtech company Rhombus is a chance to expand its range of ad formats while offered audience targeting that doesn’t use third-party cookies. Rhombus’s Social Canvas platform places ads next to social media posts embedded within the brand-safe editorial content of publisher websites.

“You can surround that particular post that’s on that premium publisher with ad creative in formats that use the best of the social targeting influencer world, but they show up in these very brand-safe environments,” Harry Kargman, founder and CEO of Kargo, said in this interview with Beet.TV.

The number of articles with social media embeds has doubled in the past three years, according to data compiled by Rhombus. More than 38% of all article pages now show at least one embedded video, tweet or post, creating an opportunity to place ads nearby. Drugmaker Allergan and brewer Heineken are among the advertisers that have used Rhombus in recent campaigns.

Kargo plans to integration Rhombus’s technology with its platform, which is connected to demand-side platforms that advertisers use to buy ads programmatically. Those DSPs include Google’s DV360, WarnerMedia’s Xandr, MediaMath and The Trade Desk, Kargman said.

The integration with Rhombus opens “all the programmatic demand in the world through agencies, through trading desks and through brands directly onto the slot that Rhombus created on the publisher page, creating better monetization,” Kargman said.

Cookieless World

Kargo is preparing for the diminishing use of third-party cookies, which Apple this year started blocking by default in its Safari browser for iPhones, iPads and Macs. Google also announced plans to end support for third-party cookies by 2022 in its popular Chrome browser. Cookies are small data files that websites put into browsers to help track people’s online activities.

“We really tried to think differently about how targeting is going to look now that the cookie is going away,” Kargman said. “We’ve lived in the Safari and mobile web world where the cookie has really disappeared, and we know that Google is about to deprecate the cookie going into next year.”

Apple’s next mobile operating system, iOS 14, also will require apps to seek the consent of iPhone users to opt into tracking using its Identifier for Advertisers (IDFA). An IDFA is a random number that Apple applies to its devices, letting advertisers track people’s activity on apps and mobile websites. Social media giant Facebook recently warned that the change likely means that many people will choose not to be tracked, making it more difficult for advertisers that use its Audience Network to reach consumers efficiently.

“Everyone in the market is talking about iOS 14 and the death of IDFA,” Kargman said.

Contextual targeting, which places ads in content that’s most likely to appeal to target audiences, will become a bigger priority as cookies fade, Kargman said.

“We can actually build what we call a ‘contextual graph’ — a new way to do targeting that will be very effective, and we’re going to prove that,” Kargman said. “The cookie used to be an ocean of users, and now is down to a tiny puddle. That puddle is going to keep on evaporating as these browsers start to get rid of the ability to do third-party cookies across all of the sites.”


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