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When Google announced in June it would delay plans to scrap third-party cookies from its Chrome browser, many in the ad industry felt they’d been given something of a reprieve. Nevertheless, the cookie-less future — whether it arrives sooner or later — is seemingly inevitable.

The good news is many in the industry are bullish on the opportunity that this shift will bring, according to the sentiment expressed this week at DMEXCO 2021 (Europe’s leading marketing and tech event). One of the most intriguing sessions there, “How to get ready for a post-cookie world,” explored the industry’s state of readiness for what comes next, and managed a little bit of timely myth-busting.

Here we share three takeaways from the discussion.

Don’t wait. Act now.

The cookie and third-party tracking are “already half-dead,” said Nils Kopnarski, head of trading and operations in DACH for MiQ Digital Ltd. It doesn’t matter, he insisted, whether Google kills the cookie tomorrow or in 2023. “The time to act and the time to get involved is now, not a month from now, not a year from now,” he added. Citing research conducted by MiQ, Kopnarski pointed out that clients who have started working with their first-party data “already have a competitive advantage over others who don’t do it.”

Building on this thought, Arne Kirchem, the media director in DACH at Unilever, said it’s crucial for marketers to stay independent instead of having to “accept the rules of the game dictated by the big players.” He said that taking control of their own data builds better efficiency for brands, allowing them to understand what’s happening with their campaigns.

It’s a chance for publishers and advertisers to build direct relationships

The deprecation of the cookie is a chance for publishers and advertisers to reassert the value exchange of relevant ads for content, suggested Aneta Nowobilska, the chief product officer from Upday. One of the key priorities for the publisher, she explained, is to get users to log in to access content. With that in mind, the company is launching new products with an eye on encouraging just that. “We track a lot of information in order to recommend content to the user,” she said. “Right now, it’s a chance and it’s a challenge to build a direct relationship to advertisers based on data cooperation. After all these years of us complaining, now we’ve got the stage. Are we going to take this opportunity and really develop something that’s better?”

Make sure there’s an identity solution that puts the consumer first

As the industry weighs new identity solutions, it is aware of its responsibility “to make sure that everybody’s data is safe, is used in a respectful way,” said The Trade Desk’s SVP of EMEA, Philippa Snare. It’s important, she said, to make sure the “overall industry is powered by fair and responsible data management so that the open internet can thrive.” In the context of privacy regulations such as GDPR, marketers are evaluating identity solutions to make sure “they’re appreciated by the user as we travel down a more privacy-centric road,” added JanHeumueller, managing director in Central Europe of Ogury.

Identity