While preparing next week’s Measure Camp in London (http://www.measurecamp.org), I had been wondering what would be the most interesting topic in my eyes. And my question is: “How would Web Analytics work without cookies?”
Actually, last year, in September, I had read an interesting post by Laurie Sullivan, posted on the MediaPost.com site: “Where The Next Ad-Targeting Technology Might Come From“. This had been the core of my thoughts for the past months, so I wanted to elaborate on Laurie’s post so as to introduce my own ideas about this topic.
I personally believe that the mean of collecting information from the web users through cookies is fading and soon to disappear. There are many reasons for this, including the user privacy concerns, the lack of contextuality of the cookie as well as the development of multiple access point and devices, that render such a data collection highly hazardous.
The disappearance of cookies would have an impact on at least three areas: data collection, targeting and analytics.
- Data collection is highly based on cookies, especially when dealing with ad exposure and browsing habits. High impact.
- Targeting is also based on cookies, as most tools use history to handle their most likely customers. High impact.
- Analytics are also using cookies, especially for site-centric analysis as well as various page-level analysis. High impact.
Considering the high impacts, time has come for a more contextual and more behavioral targeting. We are now entering the third age of targeting. The first age had been based on sociodemographics, widely used by TV Ads or direct post mailing. The second age has been based on using past behavior to predict potential future actions, and, in internet, is widely using cookies to pursue this goal. The third age will be the age of context, targeting anonymous users with current common interests.
How will it work? One possible way: we would use network log files (provided by ISP’s or Telco’s) to collect data, organize these data with a categorization at various levels and through multiple dimensions so as to generate rich but heterogeneous user clusters and hence allow targeting of potential customers based on ad-hoc inputs. I shall elaborate in further posts, especially regarding the process, but the main advantage is the respect of privacy, especially thanks to cookie avoidance…
So, yes, giving up cookies may be difficult; this is why I believe we ought to prepare to go on a diet as of today…
And act for alternative methodologies instead of shouting “me want cookies!”