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ad tech product development

🍪 RIP cookies 🍪

Those who are building and testing new tech know that getting away from third-party cookies has to be part of the solution.

A recurring theme I’ve heard mumbled by ad tech and media friends is the eventual demise of cookies for programmatic advertising targeting.

Those who are building and testing new tech know that getting away from third-party cookies has to be part of the solution.

American Express shared their strategy for reducing dependency on third-party cookies with Digiday.

I see two prominent solutions to life without cookies for programmatic buyers:

  • Working with DSP’s who have first party data
  • Working directly with publishers to gain audience access

On the DSP side, I expect ad tech players who have been collecting ID-based data for years to have an opportunity to gain the upper hand, assuming they can integrate easily into existing tech stacks.


A team like EQ Works, out of Toronto, has location data for 350M mobile devices.

I can think of a million ways that mobile location data could be used to build audiences for advocacy or political campaigns.

Two considerations that always come to mind for me when considering location data are:

How old is this data?

If I’m collecting behavioral data (say I’m building an audience of anyone who attended a concert because I know that audience skews young, progressive, and renter), I’d want to make sure that data is from the last year.

When it comes to location, it always seems like you have to be forward-looking to benefit the most. How can retroactive audience-building benefit my campaign?

If I were working on a retail campaign, it’d make sense to be targeting specific locations proactively. For example, maybe a Walmart geofences Target locations…or even better, Amazon pick-up locations.

But political campaigns are a little harder to get ahead of. One way I would use location data in the Democratic primary is to target events of other primary contenders – especially those closely aligned with my candidate’s positions.

Sooner or later, one of us will drop out, and I’d love for my candidate to have already started building a target audience of their opponent’s former supporters.

Also, it’d be pretty helpful to use geofencing to build a suppression list of the other party’s candidates. And given the current candidate, rallies are easy enough to proactively geofence.


Another interesting marketing company with first-party data is US-based Zeta Global.

They’ve been quietly building their political vertical for a couple of cycles now and are currently working to build up more capacity on the Dems side.

Over the years and through multiple acquisitions, they’ve built a deterministic data set that allows them to get into the inboxes of permissioned accounts…they have 750M of those.

It’s great that they can find/target/deliver a huge audience based on an existing audience file, which in and of itself is what all campaigns want right now.

But my favorite part of their offering is the ability to track and target users based on their media consumption because they own the DISQUS software that powers comments on…well, pretty much everywhere.

Try retargeting supporters with a donation ask while they consume information about an issue relevant to your candidate. 👀

Serve up ads that provide balance to a critical piece they’re reading to give your supporter an opportunity to hear your candidate’s side to that particular issue.

Or what if they’re not on your list but they’re reading content about a candidate that is about to drop out of the primary…and you welcome them to support your still-thriving campaign.


It’s always exciting to follow the new tech that comes out of campaign land.

But, this cycle, I’m keeping my eye on the big programmatic players who are looking to build political verticals.

They’ll have the resources and experience to run sophisticated targeting at scale.

And the ones who have been working ahead of the cookie crumble will have first-party solutions ready to go the minute the campaign asks.

Where I think these big players have the opportunity to shine: rapid response.

I’ve never seen anything move as quickly as campaigns. So, if they want a piece of the political pie, they’ll have to learn to work on that 24/7 flow with ever-moving targets.