Cookie extinction, ensuring brand safety, and privacy-first advertising – the challenges facing advertisers right now

With the industry on the cusp of change, here’s how advertisers can overcome cookies, brand safety and privacy challenges to meet today’s user expectations.

In 2021, Google announced it would phase out third-party cookies in 2022, once it figured out how to use new technology to replace them and address the needs of users, publishers, and advertisers. Google has again delayed the removal of cookies until late 2024 – granting a lifeline to the industry which clearly isn’t quite there yet.

Additionally, no brand wants to be associated with negative content. The possible financial and reputational consequences are staggering. According to a survey from the Trustworthy Accountability Group (TAG) and Brand Safety Institute (BSI), 80% of consumers looked to reduce investments or even stop buying from brands that were advertising in unsafe places. 

Then throw in the fact that users are far more aware of how their data is utilised and are concerned about privacy issues. For example, Apple is giving users the choice to block the IDFA identifier on an app level, meaning advertisers no longer have the option to monitor user behavior on non-browser apps.

Let’s dig into each challenge and find out how brands can overcome them.

Cookie extinction

Cookies are small pieces of code that websites provide to a user’s browser and stick around as the person visits other sites. They can be used to track users across multiple sites to target ads and see how they perform, often lasting for years on users’ devices. The use of cookies has been the industry norm for many years and has fuelled the trade for personal data.

Since Google announced it is ending support for cookies, advertisers have been trying to fill the cookie jar with something else. However, solutions as a whole haven’t been moving fast enough, with advertisers still choosing to profit from using individual user data collected from cookies. 

According to a study by the Programmatic Pioneers Summit, 54% of respondents said that the crumbling cookie is a concern and are rethinking their strategy in response. So it’s no surprise that 53% of respondents in the same study said they’re struggling to identify the right customers to target for specific campaigns. This clearly shows that many are not there yet in the industry.

Brand safety

Brand safety goes beyond having a list of keywords to be blocked. Understanding the context in which content is displayed is critical for brands so that their ads don’t appear next to content they wish to avoid.

To ensure your brand remains relevant and seen in the desired places, ask these three big questions:

1. What are our brand values and what do we want to be associated with?
2. Which topics, themes, and brands do we not want to be associated with?
3. Do we have a plan in place for working with publishers?

Privacy-first advertising

According to a GumGum survey, a majority of consumers (66%) report they are uncomfortable with companies tracking their browsing history to show them personalised ads. Digital ads that make consumers uncomfortable destroy brand trust and increase the likelihood of a negative response.

Companies need to find solutions that transition toward responsible and sustainable advertising, and for non-intrusive personalization that prioritises user experience and trust as the new normal. But also advertisers need to make money.

Google rival Apple has also been making changes to privacy on its platform in a bid to become more privacy-focused. Yet, these changes have caused the return on investment for an average mobile advertiser to drop by almost 40% and drop mobile ad spend by 25%, according to Forbes. Facebook and other companies – both big players and small businesses – are also suffering from the recent changes Apple made.

Contextual Intelligence as a solution

So, how can brands give consumers what they need if they can’t rely on cookies to provide the data? The answer is to not look to the past. It’s to understand what’s happening in real-time.

Instead of using a historical database of online user behavior to predict what the user might want to see, today’s technologies can help brands combine multiple data sources to deliver contextually-powered content offerings through sentiment, semantic, and on-page behavior analysis powered by Machine Learning (ML).

Of the many proposed solutions, Contextual Intelligence is seen as a potential tool to work around the complex issues surrounding personal data. It is a way of programmatically purchasing digital advertising based on appropriate categories of relevance to the audience. 

It allows elements such as headlines and images, product selection, and on-page placement to be optimised, resulting in brand-sensitive, relevant content that is more user-centric and maintains anonymity. 

For example, if you’re reading a news article about 2022’s best handbags for fall, the site would display handbag options to purchase in the advertising space. Contextual targeting is seen as a potential tool to work around the complex issues surrounding personal data and privacy.

74% of consumers have a favourable perception of brands whose ad messages relate to the adjacent content, according to IAS’ Congruence Effect study. Ultimately, by leveraging contextual intelligence with AI, brands can reach their target audience efficiently while also building valuable trust in a brand-safe way.


For better or worse, brands, advertisers, and consumers are deeply connected in a data-driven relationship that isn’t going anywhere for a long time. In an online world, brands need to find privacy-first and relevant ways to offer consumers the essential and inspiring products and services they wish to purchase. The ad industry needs a modern-day solution that is independent of personal identifiers and better matches the user intent.

NinaData can support brands and respect consumers to achieve this – all while consigning cookies to the past. 

The NinaData technology team combines extensive industry experience with technical know-how and a long background in building a scalable, high-value, and high-performance architecture for AI analytics of media content. NinaData’s data scientists and management combine methodological skills with practical application experience.

Check out these results NinaData secured for Tap Native in our collaboration together:

CTR Increased by 300%
CPC Reduced by 40%
ROAS increased by ~ 70%

If you would like to learn about how we can do the same for you, get in touch today!

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Interesting talk from Thomas Wlazik, #TikTok. Recognizing the Buying Intent, i.e. the correct stage of the customer journey contextually, will become critical as the paths become more complex. This will be the era of AI-powered buying intent generation and recognition.

Great to be at #DMEXCO22 - loving the energy and all the happy faces we've met. If you’re here over the next two days come and meet for a chat about how we could help you improve your audience targeting by up to 90% 🙌

@dmexco #adtech #programmatic

We’re excited to be off to Cologne tomorrow for #DMEXCO22! Book a meeting with one of the team to find out how NinaData is helping advertisers reach the right audiences with the right content at the right time.

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Not long to go until #DMEXCO22! Book a meeting with one of the NinaData team to learn how we can help you reach the right audiences with the right content at the right time:

@dmexco #adtech #programmatic

With the industry on the cusp of change, here’s how #advertisers can overcome #cookies, brand safety and #privacy challenges to meet today’s user expectations:

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