The Ultimate Guide to Cookieless Targeting


For years, marketers stood on a goldmine of consumer data: User IDs, user interests, past behaviors, past purchases etc. that they could leverage to support any or all of their strategic marketing decisions. However, that time is swiftly coming to an end. With Google phasing out third party cookies by 2024, digital advertising tactics will inevitably have to pivot towards finding future-proof, cookieless targeting methods to reach consumers online.

In this blog post, we will dive deeper into cookieless targeting, things to consider when developing a cookieless strategy and the rise of contextual targeting as the use of personal data to reach consumers continues to fade.

What is Cookieless Targeting?

Things to Consider When Developing a Cookieless Targeting Strategy

Use Contextual Technology to Understand Digital Environments

With third party data tracking on the decline, contextual targeting is on the rise. According to Statista, between 2020 and 2027, contextual advertising spending is expected to grow 13.3 percent annually. The graph below shows the compound annual growth rate of contextual advertising:

Illustration of Compound Annual Growth Rate of Contextual Targeting

Undoubtedly, it’s important to gain a comprehensive and robust overview of what digital environments people are engaged in and the type of devices they are using. This will give you insight into consumer mindset and inform your target audience - instead of using behavioral data which relies on past behavioral patterns of consumers.

For example, if you are looking to target a woman in a certain state looking to buy a car - Yes, you can target automotive content online, but what about her mindset? Is she going through a particular life change? What is she thinking about in that present moment? Focusing on the consumer's interests and state of mind will help you develop a robust cookieless targeting strategy.

Pay Attention to Consumer Mindset

The main tenet of digital advertising moving forward is understanding a consumer’s mindset and where they are, instead of relying on personal data. 

In a new study, MAGNA revealed that basic demographic targeting simply won’t work - we have to tap into people’s mindset to capture attention.


  • 61% of impact on search intent is driven by an individual’s mindset.
  • There is 12% stronger alignment between ad and video content when you target beyond metadata.
  • There is +4% increase in brand favorability and +5% increase in recommendation intent with contextual targeting that focuses on mindset. 

Introducing GumGum's New Advertising Framework

GumGum's new advertising framework, The Mindset Matrix™, harnesses the power of consumer mindset to meet people in the right moments within the right environments to inspire action. The Mindset Matrix™, architects how advertisers will be able to continue to drive ROAS without personal data at scale. Through the powerful combination of contextual targeting, engaging creative and attention metrics, The Mindset Matrix™ enables our industry to better align their digital ads with how humans think and operate to drive attention and meaningful outcomes.

Illustration of The Mindset Matrix for Contextual Targeting & Cookieless Advertising

While each of these elements is powerful in its own right, together they from the most effective cookieless targeting solution in the market.

Interested in learning more about The Mindset Matrix™? Let us help you develop a cookieless targeting strategy for your next campaign. Request a Demo.

‍Measure and Track the Right Data Responses

As people are bombarded with thousands of ads everyday, measure and track those messages that are catching attention. Viewability and Click Through Rate (CTR) is becoming a poor proxy to measure success - instead, focus on data responses that are more aligned with grabbing consumer attention.

For example, as shown above, GumGum's study with MAGNA proved that mindset resulted in positive lift all across the board, from search intent to brand favorability and recommendation intent. 

Align Creative with Content in CTV

Illustration of Target Ad Placements Based on Consumer Interests in the CTV Advertising Industry

Use contextual intelligence to match the mood of a particular scene within content and then serve the ad immediately following the scene. Creative is now less about advertising and more about consumer engagement and building an emotional connection. 

For example, if there is a scene with a happy, positive car ride through beautiful scenery, serve an automotive ad messaging following the scene. This will cause people to connect the automotive brand with joy and positivity. 

‍Establish Consumer Attention as the New Metric

With more research about consumer attention, we will be able to figure out what level of attention reaps what level of results in accordance with different verticals. With these insights, we will be able to act in real time and help make campaigns more successful. 

Starting in 2023, GumGum will incorporate advanced attention measurement and optimization into all its display creative campaigns. By integrating Playground xyz’s award-winning Attention Intelligence Platform (AIP) with GumGum’s market-leading contextual solution, advertisers will be able to move beyond basic viewability metrics and understand the true impact of their advertising. 

‍Build First-Party Data Relationships

First-hand information about consumers is extremely valuable. Build relationships to collect first party data and begin to understand who your customers are, and then use contextual intelligence to tap into their mindsets and serve them ads which align with their interests. 

Illustration of First Party Data versus Third Party Data in Ad Targeting

Collecting first party data is extremely beneficial: It improves customer data integrity, it creates a unified customer profile, it reduces the cost to gather customer data and it optimizes marketing campaigns.

Invest in New Digital Environments

While third party cookies are on their way out, new and exciting digital environments are gaining traction as effective ways to authentically connect with consumers.

One such emerging digital environment is In-Game Advertising. In-Game Advertising refers to ad placements within online games, which appear during gameplay. Formats include static band dynamic banners, video, and audio ads.

With the gaming industry on a rapid rise, there are now 3 billion gamers present in virtual worlds all over the globe. Marketers should take advantage of this highly engaged and diverse audience to drive results for their marketing campaigns.

Illustration of In-Game Advertising Marketing Strategies

Demise of Third Party Cookies & The Rise of Contextual Targeting

Not surprisingly, analysts are predicting that marketers will break hard for contextual advertising, adding billions of dollars to those budgets by 2027.

What Makes Contextual Targeting an Effective Alternative to Cookieless Advertising?

Contextual targeting is quickly establishing itself as a future-proof, brand-safe and effective cookieless targeting solution. Companies all over the globe are shifting their marketing dollars towards building a powerful contextual strategy as shown below.

Illustration of the Rise of Contextual Marketing as an Alternative to Third Party Cookies

Benefits of Contextual Advertising

It Does Not Rely on Third Party Data

Because it doesn't collect or use information about users, it protects user privacy. Instead, it leverages the context next to which the ad appears. In this way, it stands firm as one of the leading cookieless advertising tactics.

Illustration of Contextual Advertising as Protecting User Privacy

It is Brand Safe & Suitable

Since contextual targeting depends on understanding the full context of a page, brands can be sure that their ad messaging when only be placed within relevant content that is aligned with their brand values, and not harmful or damaging in any way.

Targets Users Based on Current Interest

Unlike behavioral tracking that targets consumers on their past behaviors, contextual advertising reaches consumers within relevant content that is aligned with their current interests.

Allows for More Robust Targeting

A brand can choose to target by a general topic, or a collection of phrases for more precise targeting. Instead of targeting “coffee,” you can use input phrases like “organic coffee beans, or “dark beans” to narrow the context even further.

Optimizes in Real Time

Contextual advertising has the ability to verify if ads are served on relevant domains pre- and in-flight. This gives brands the ability to revise selected topics and phrases in real-time to improve the performance.

To learn more about contextual targeting, please click here.

Key Takeaways

Although the departure of behavioral targeting can seem daunting - it is extremely important for marketers to be proactive in preparing successful cookieless advertising strategies. And to remember, there are a number of more effective alternatives out there.

Contextual advertising is a leading cookieless targeting solution because it not only protects consumer and brands, but it also leverages the context of a page to truly deliver ads that appeal to people's current interests, values and ideas. It also future-proof and helps to build a more equitable and sustainable digital future.

Exploring different contextual targeting technologies with a focus on consumer mindset, coupled with building a strong foundation of first party data and exploring new media environments can help you build and execute a strong cookieless advertising strategy today - and in the future.

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