Is “Cookieless” a New Age for the Internet?

Purnomo Kristanto (The Jakarta Post)

Jakarta ‚óŹ
Fri, 2 June 2023

Internet, cookies, privacy, consumer, streaming, advertising, journalism, TV, content

In 1994, Stanford student Jerry Yang built the world’s first web index, which he called Yahoo! Inc. while Mosaic Communications released the world’s first commercially available web browser, Netscape Navigator.

At a time when most software was still distributed on floppy disks, Netscape quickly gained popularity when it was made available for download. And while no one thought to mention it at the time, this initial release of Netscape did include a humble but crucial technical protocol called a cookie.

This highly influential cookie would eventually outlive not only the company that invented it, but many other early titans online as well.

But now cookies have been warned. More than 25 years later, there’s never been a better opportunity to rewrite the way the internet works. Long a lightning rod for privacy concerns, cookies don’t give consumers enough choice and control over their online data in a world where privacy is at the center of attention.

For advertisers, cookies were never designed for advertising. They have simply been co-opted as the least bad solution available. And they only mostly cover Internet browsing. They are non-existent in the fastest growing parts of the open internet, which include people reading the news online or binge-watching their favorite series on their mobile devices or smart TVs, as well as streaming music, podcasts, and mobile games and apps.

In Indonesia, data reveals that the open internet reaches more than 190 million consumers and digitization-savvy Indonesians are increasingly shifting their media habits towards professionally produced premium content on channels such as OTT/CTV and music streaming over cloud-generated content platforms. users (UGC).

Of the 283 hours the average Indonesian consumer spends on digital media in a month, more than half (55%) is spent on the open internet. At the same time, viewers in Southeast Asia stream 8 billion hours of OTT content per month, with more than 72% of consumers planning to maintain or increase their OTT viewing.

With the rapid rise of new media channels that don’t rely on cookies, we now have an opportunity to build something even better, a new common currency of the open internet. It’s critical for us to get it right, in part because the Internet economy hasn’t changed much in the last 25 years: It’s financed by advertising. We “pay” for the news we read, the music we listen to, and the TV programs we stream by watching or listening to commercials.

Users intuitively understand this trade-off. Research by The Trade Desk found that more than one in two Asian-Pacific consumers are willing to share information about their interests online to enable relevant advertising so they can access free content on the Internet. An overwhelming majority (90%) of consumers surveyed in Southeast Asia said they would watch ads in exchange for free content.

There are a few Internet fundamentals that come first for me when I think about how we can build something that preserves the relevant advertising value trade for free content on the Internet, while massively improving consumer privacy.

First, the internet is not free. Journalism outlets, for example, have to cover the costs of journalists producing big news content.

Second, advertisers have no interest in jeopardizing consumer trust. Many of them have spent decades building brand loyalty and don’t want to do anything that could jeopardize those relationships.

And finally, perhaps because of these dynamics, more and more of the Internet is being authenticated, i.e. as users, we recognize that we need to log in to see content.

Almost the entire streaming TV ecosystem is authenticated. We sign in with our emails, so TV streaming companies can manage our subscriptions or provide us with relevant advertising. Almost all apps ask us to sign in. Increasingly, news sites require us to authenticate with an email. This trend will only accelerate as publishers and advertisers reimagine the role of identity in a post-cookie omnichannel environment.

Why? Because almost all of these experiences are funded by advertising. And with authentication, we finally solve the fundamental cookie problem. Authentication and the multi-channel identifiers that support it (such as Unified ID 2.0 and others) allow advertisers to run campaigns seamlessly across channels.

They can see, for example, whether a certain audience has seen a certain ad on a streaming platform and then manage the frequency of that ad for the viewer across channels. Advertisers have no interest in bombarding users with the same ad over and over again.

They know it’s not good for their brand. But until now, they haven’t found great tools to handle it.

This dynamic also has the potential to dramatically improve the consumer experience. Not simply because we won’t have to look at the same ad over and over again, but because we will eventually see fewer but more relevant ads. If I’m a foodie and a golfer, would I rather see a few targeted ads on those topics or many more ads on random topics?

Ultimately, this could mean three things. First, advertisers can run fewer ads and reach the right audience. Second, audiences can enjoy a more engaging and relevant advertising experience.

And finally, the publisher can create more great content and reliable journalism. Thus, they can continue to offer quality content for free. Not to mention that the new era of online advertising can help our local media survive and avoid their collapse, as we have seen happen in the US with Buzzfeed and Vice.

With new identity management tools, consumers can make it much easier for consumers to authenticate on the Internet, clearly understand why they’re being asked to authenticate (no more indecipherable cookie permissions), and manage their privacy settings.

And by doing so, the internet will actually be restored and refreshed. And we’ll be able to preserve the valuable role advertising plays in funding our incredible Internet experience.


The writer is general manager for Indonesia at The Trade Desk

Disclaimer: The views expressed in this article are those of the author and do not reflect the official position of The Jakarta Post.

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