Are Cookies Still Relevant? On Device IDs and the Future of Precise Targeting

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If content is king, then context is queen

Bill Gates in 1996 wrote an essay titled “Content Is King” and almost 25 years later, it’s still being quoted. At present, however, where 60 hours of video are uploaded every minute, the phrase takes on an added layer. Today’s challenge is not only to produce content but to also create content that resonates. Translating it in the business and advertising perspective, successful content is based on context.

Cookie: The appetizer data

Cookies are snippets of codes stored in a web user’s browser directory. Cookies allow a user to save their previous activities in their browser (a.k.a. history). It includes websites visited and even login credentials. With cookies, it is possible for a user to have a smoother experience because the browser already knows the user’s preference.

Once a web user enters their website it creates a cookie, the server can use the cookie as an identification card and determine what pages the user visited, revisited and so on. For an e-commerce website, login credentials can also be matched.

In the past, especially before the advent of mobile apps, marketers mainly relied on cookies to gather data about their target market’s online behavior. However, precisely because it’s website-based, it cannot keep up with the requirements needed to give an in-depth profile of today’s mobile users.

Device ID: Precision tool

With the advent of the mobile phone, user habits also changed and cookies, being browser-based, could no longer provide accurate information on user behavior. Besides, there was also the problem of overlapping and deleted cookies, which made it difficult to consistently identify users.

This was when marketers shifted to mobile device IDs, which are unique and anonymous identifiers that correspond to a single, specific mobile device, or user. Because people rarely go anywhere without their phones, it has become a part of their identity. We can say a user has a 1:1 relationship with their device.

With Device IDs, we can gather more specific, individualized information on user behavior including location and time spent on the phone. Because the identifier is unique, it also made attribution simpler. Lastly, because Device IDs are anonymous, we can profile users without using Personally Identifiable Information (PII). As user privacy becomes an increasing priority, this is an important benefit.

The future of targetting

With technology becoming more complex and privacy regulations becoming stricter, there have been many discussions on the future of user profiling, targeting, and attribution. The general consensus is to find a unified tool that can work across multiple platforms while prioritizing user privacy. Last year, the Interactive Advertising Bureau (IAB) Tech Lab proposed an industry-wide initiative to find a better solution than cookies. Instead, they suggested a standardized user token, where the user has full control over their privacy settings and preferences.

Meanwhile, a recent article by AdExchanger calls for a browser-based identity standard that will function the same way as a mobile device ID. The main challenge is getting all the industry players involved to make this vision a reality.

Do you think there’s a future for Cookies? What solution can you propose to replace it?

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Pranav Kataria

Associate Director, Programmatic Strategy

As the Associate Director of Programmatic Strategy, Pranav brings over 8 years of experience in the adtech industry working with Publishers, DSPs, Agencies, and Advertisers from global regions to improve their monetization, performance, and strategies. With great understanding of the mobile market, his expertise lies in analytics, account management, strategy, and ad sales. With this refined skill set, he brings customer-centric mindfulness that enables growth and innovation.

Before joining AlgoriX, his keen business perspective and skills have earned him opportunities to work across different organizations and verticals in the advertising ecosystem; be it improving the processes, sales enablement, and managing client relationships.

Ray Xia

VP, AlgoriX Partner Studio

Ray Xia was a mainstay at Tencent Games, having worked at the company for 13 years. There, he took on various roles including backend developer, application development manager, and game producer. During this time, he actively participated in the development and operation of popular titles such as QQ Pet, QQ Pet Fight, and games involving the Naruto franchise. To date, these games have over 10 million daily active users. Through this rich well of experience he has accumulated covering all aspects of game development and operation, he aims to spearhead more creative endeavors via AlgoriX Studios.

Naomi Li

VP, Research and Development

Naomi Li has a decade’s worth of experience in research and development for the adtech industry. She started her career at Baidu where she was mainly responsible for the Automation Testing of the Baidu Fengchao Ad Search Engine. There, she focused on the fields of overlapping experiment infrastructure, rich media ads rendering, and ad antispam technology. Moreover, as part of Baidu’s International Group, she led the research and development of various monetization and advertising mechanisms for Baidu’s overseas app store, SDK, and AdNetwork. At present, she is responsible for the overall direction of AlgoriX’s R&D efforts, which include product planning, technical architecture design, and talent training.

Frederic Liow

SVP, Revenue Growth & Strategy

A veteran in the digital advertising industry, he began his career during the early days of the dotcom era. To date, his passion for the digital industry is still as strong as ever (and getting even stronger). Spanning twenty years of his digital career, he has worked for leading companies like Nielsen, MRM McCann, Omnicom Media Group, Millward Brown and Smaato. Currently, Frederic is the revenue officer for AlgoriX spearheading global revenue growth, business expansion and strategic partnerships. He has set up and built AlgoriX’s global mobile ad exchange, hiring talents, establishing best practices, and injecting global industry standards into the company. Prior to his current role, he was the Head of Demand for Smaato, overseeing the demand business and operations in APAC. Frederic is currently based in our Singapore HQ.

Xinxiao Guo

Chief Operation Officer

Equipped with a decade’s worth of experience in global product operation as well as a deep understanding of emerging markets, Xinxiao brings her expertise in mobile traffic monetization and programmatic advertising to the table. Before her role at AlgoriX, she was a core member of iQIYI’s research and development unit. After that, she moved to Baidu as Head of Programmatic Advertising.

At present, she is AlgoriX’s co-founder and Chief Operation Officer. Together with the team, she aims to help game developers effectively reach global audiences and implement better monetization strategies.

Ruiz Xie

Chief Executive Officer

With nearly 20 years of business experience, Ruiz Xie founded AlgoriX with the vision of creating a global advertising platform and entertainment ecosystem. Through AlgoriX’s services, he aims to create a more inclusive tech ecosystem by providing customized solutions that meet the needs of businesses at every stage. At the same time, through AlgoriX Studios and its third-party partner studios, the company is currently bringing to life a greater goal of providing a comprehensive entertainment platform for people worldwide, which covers games, IP, comics, movies, and more. At present, he leads nearly a hundred employees with concrete plans to expand the company by establishing more offices worldwide.

Before founding AlgoriX, Ruiz Xie joined CoreMail in 2002. There, he created the first Ajax version of the mailbox in China for NetEase, which was the largest Internet company in China at the time. After that, he joined Tencent in 2005 and contributed to the creation of Tencent Games while also building a large scale distributed storage system. In 2013, he moved to Baidu where he took part in developing Baidu International’s overall architecture and search advertising system. During his tenure, he was also the Chairman of the Baidu Global Technical Committee and Baidu’s chief architect.