Cookieless Ad Serving and Context

In this post we explain how Adnuntius can be used to serve ads without any cookies or other means of tracking, and how contextual information can be used instead. 

We were inspired by a Wired article explaining how Dutch sales organization Ster increased revenue for broadcaster Nederlandse Publieke Omroep (NPO) while killing cookies, and wanted to explain how this approach can easily be replicated using Adnuntius. Even if you’re not ready to kill cookies, the contextual targeting tips can of course still be useful. 

We also get an increasing number of requests as their current ad servers cannot serve ads if they cannot set cookies. Have you experienced something similar? 

Use Cookies?

If you haven’t read the Wired article, then boiled down to a very minimum (that certainly leaves out lots of useful details) it explains: in an advertising industry predicting chaos without cookies to identify and track users, NPO and sales organization Ster showed that other outcomes are indeed possible, among other by refocusing on contextually matching ads to content. 

Turning off cookies is easy; just add “useCookies: false” to your ad tags and you’re done. Here is an example ad tag:

<div id="adn-0000000000000000" style="display: none"></div>
<script src="https://cdn.adnuntius.com/adn.js" async></script>
<script>
window.adn = window.adn || {}; adn.calls = adn.calls || [];
adn.calls.push(function() {
  adn.request({ adUnits: [
     { auId: '0000000000000000', auW: '300', auH: '250', useCookies: false }
  ]});
});
</script>

And not just this: If you don’t want local storage to be used you can add adn.useLocalStorage(false) as a separate line of code (you can also use adn.useCookies(false) as a separate line of code); and in order to prevent creatives from third-party ad servers to set cookies you can also use what we call isolateFrame and isolateSubFrame (the latter means that if the ad content says <iframe src=”anotherdomain.com“>, then cookies on anotherdomain.com can’t be set).

Tip: see also how you can make life hard for ad blockers.

Contextual Categories

Now that you don’t track users, let’s look at targeting criteria you can use instead. Good old days, some say. But targeting ads to the content category that the user is reading isn’t just something that publishers are good at and can use to differentiate from a lot of the competition; it can be effective too. 

With Adnuntius you can enable category targeting in different ways: First, if your URLs are structured so that categories can be read (for example: adnuntius.com/sports/football/somearticle is a sports and football article) then you can easily set your ad tags to pick up the categories automatically. Simply tick the checkbox below and that’s it: you are now collecting categories that can be used in campaign targeting.

Also, to create an easily usable library of categories to choose from, have a look at this explanation

Search Queries

Have another look at the image above, right below the outlined area. You will see that you can also “derive key-values for key-value targeting from the page URL’s query string”. Simply put, it means that if you check the box you will also send search terms entered by the user with the ad requests. And you can then subsequently target ads against those search terms. We dare say that search advertising has never been easier. 

Search queries aren’t the only keywords you can send. You can also equip your ad tags to send any information you want to. The example below shows how you can send “sports” and “football” as keywords with the ad request.

<!-- Test Ad Unit 1 (0000000000000000) -->
<div id="adn-0000000000000418" style="display: none"></div>
<script src="https://cdn.adnuntius.com/adn.js" async></script>
<script>
window.adn = window.adn || {}; adn.calls = adn.calls || [];
adn.calls.push(function() {
   adn.request({ adUnits: [
      { auId: '0000000000000418', auW: '1000', auH: '600', kv: { 'tags': ['sports', 'football'] } }
   ]});
});
</script>

Once you’re sending the information you can target campaigns to any of these key values, using boolean operators AND, OR and AND NOT to target exactly the content you want.

Activate with Self-Service and Marketplace

Publishers with ad ops booking campaigns for their customers can of course use all of the capabilities above. But you can also scale by making campaign booking available to both larger buyers and small businesses. 

Small businesses can access your very own self-service advertising portal. Adnuntius Self-Service gives publishers an easy, quick and affordable way to give advertisers, especially small businesses, the chance to register, and to create, pay for and manage their own campaigns. Larger businesses however can use Adnuntius Marketplace, which lets buyers, publishers or ad networks provide their own private marketplace to create a more effective alternative to programmatic advertising. With Adnuntius Marketplace you can reduce technology costs by 80% and ensure 100% transparency in the value chain.