Have you ever searched for furniture on Amazon and then seen an ad for a table lamp on a site like weather.com? That’s thanks to cookies.

For years, brands and advertisers have been using cookies to track and collect data to serve relevant programmatic ads to their desired target audiences across the internet. However, with Google’s initiative to remove third-party cookies in early 2022 due to privacy concerns, programmatic marketers will be forced to adapt. On Amazon, media planners are looking to pivot their digital strategies to find targeting solutions that will still enable them to serve relevant ads off of Amazon.

Cookies are a small piece of code that is stored on a user’s device that tracks actions they take across the web. There are two main types of cookies:

First-party cookies are used to track actions you take on a specific website. For example, Amazon uses first-party cookies to save items in your cart.

Third-party cookies allow advertisers to track and serve personalized ads to people based on their behavior across the internet, known as behavioral targeting. This is the cookie Google wants to eliminate. See the weather.com example above.

Google’s announcement to remove third-party cookies is significant. Behavioral targeting is fundamental to programmatic advertising as it generates high engagement and better conversion rates. So, without it, what are the options? There are still a lot of unknowns, but it is very likely that advertisers will lean into targeting solutions that do not use third-party cookies to reach consumers across the web, like contextual targeting.

Contextual advertising places ads on web pages based on the content of those pages, no matter who is visiting the page. The publisher scrapes the words on thousands of websites. After analyzing and processing the words, they match an advertiser’s selection of targeted keywords with relevant sites.

For example, you are on a travel website and you see an ad for an airline, which, of course, is related to travel. The advertiser behind the airline ad likely used “travel” as a keyword within their contextual campaign.

Contextual targeting is not new, and the targeting method has actually been around since the 1990s. However, due to the success in behavioral targeting over the years, brands shifted budgets from contextual targeting to behavioral targeting – at least until now. With the demise of the third-party cookie and therefore soon to be limitations of behavioral targeting, there is a renewed attention on contextual targeting. Recent advancements in contextual targeting are bringing excitement and opportunity back into this advertising mechanism.

One of the leaders in contextual targeting is Oracle, offering a solution known as Custom Predicts that takes contextual targeting to the next level. It utilizes sophisticated Artificial Intelligence (AI) predictive technology to drive greater relevancy for brands. As mentioned earlier, standard contextual targeting is comprised of a fixed set of keywords. Predicts™ segments contain a core set of "seed” keywords and dynamically add relevant keywords that their processor uncovers from social media and listening technologies. While the technology is complex, the solution itself is straightforward: it allows brands to appear on relevant pages as online trends evolve to span new topics, increasing reach and performance for programmatic contextual campaigns. And, the best part? It requires zero cookies.

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How can Amazon DSP Advertisers get ahead with off-site Contextual Targeting?

Amazon offers programmatic targeting via Amazon DSP to reach and track consumers both on-site (on Amazon) and off-site (across the web). The good news is Amazon will still be able to create audience segments based on their first-party cookie data (including website shopping behavior), as well as first-party purchase data, so that advertisers will still be able to reach relevant audiences on Amazon-owned and operated sites via programmatic display ads. However, like other programmatic platforms, Amazon DSP campaigns using Amazon audiences will likely experience a shift in off-site supply distribution, scale, and measurement.

While at this point in time the full implications are still unknown, we do know that Amazon is starting to offer “cookie-less” off-site targeting solutions for advertisers to reach relevant audiences, including their newest integration with Oracle Data Cloud and their Custom Predicts™ contextual targeting product available to everyone. This feature does not incur additional fees and is available worldwide for Amazon standard display, DSP mobile app and Video line items running on third-party supply sources.

If I serve ads via Amazon DSP, should I try Oracle Data Cloud’s Custom Predicts contextual targeting?

The answer is yes! With the advertising industry shifting away from third-party cookies, contextual targeting is a strategic alternative to begin integrating into your marketing mix. It is important to start testing, benchmarking, and developing off-site contextual strategies today to understand how they can work for your KPIs in the future. If tested correctly now, advanced contextual targeting can enable you to turn the “cookie-less world” challenge into an opportunity to gain a competitive advantage in early 2022.

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