August 7, 2013 Jaclyn Bickerton
For advertisers, cookies are used to ensure that Internet users see relevant ads when they browse the web. A user who visited a car manufacturer’s website, for instance, might get an ad for a new car or an ad for an oil change at Mr. Lube. If I’m browsing the Internet searching for a diet plan, would it make sense to have a McDonald’s ad appear? I may be wrong, but I have never come across a diet that encourages eating fast food (not to say that you can’t cheat sometimes.) Regardless, it doesn’t make sense for advertisers to waste money on outside reach, nor does it impress the consumer having their browser cluttered by irrelevant ads.
In a recent article posted on AdWeek called “Mozilla Decision Harms More Than Just Advertisers”, Lou Mastria comments on Mozilla’s big decision regarding third-party cookies. In late June, Mozilla – creator of the popular Firefox Web browser – announced its decision to block the vast majority of third-party cookies for its users. Understandably, Internet users want to protect their privacy, but Mozilla’s proposed solution is bank breaking, not only for advertisers, but also consumers.
In an April poll by Zogby, almost 70 percent of users said that free content was “extremely important” to the overall value of the Internet. Consumers do not want to pay for content online, yet they do not see the direct link between internet-based advertising and free content.
But Mozilla’s plan is already underway; the cookies that support most internet-based online advertising have been blocked outright. We saw this coming, and Mozilla has rightfully made its stand. The question now lies: Is this the beginning or the end of internet-based advertising?
Thankfully there is an alternative that should be held with highest regards for advertisers and marketers – Social Media. The industry should be looking to social media powerhouses such as Facebook and Google to offer value to advertisers. Facebook, having the most unique visitors and already being dedicated to protecting user privacy, is in a great position to offer a solution in the marketplace.
Facebook could address one of the major problems that has hounded cookie-based targeting – sharing devices. With one device there may be multiple users with different demographics, and cookie-based targeting doesn’t sort out the searches my grandmother made verses what I had been searching. But because people usually only log into their own Facebook account, this problem could be avoided and in turn make for an even better ROI for advertisers.
Jaclyn Bickerton, Social Media, Raven5 Ltd, Oakville & Toronto Ontario, August 2013