Cannes 2024 Takeaways: Addressability in Advertising

By OpenX in Addressability|July 2, 2024

Welcome to the three-part Panel Series: OpenX at Cannes 2024, your front-row seat to the compelling discussions that took place this year. Hosted by OpenX, this series delves into the critical conversations and insights that are shaping the future of advertising.

2024 has been declared the year of interoperability, marking a significant shift in how data is managed and utilized across platforms. The moderator of “Unlocking Addressability: Navigating the Post-Cookie Era,” Anthony Katsur, CEO of the IAB Tech Lab, led a rousing discussion on signal loss and its implications for publishers and advertisers alike. Joining Katsur onstage were industry leaders representing advertising agencies, multinational data providers, and omnichannel supply-side platforms, including:

This year also marks the 30th anniversary of the first banner ad, a milestone that underscores the rapid evolution of digital advertising. From the simple beginnings of static banners to today’s complex, data-driven ecosystem, the journey has been remarkable. However, as we stand on the cusp of a new era, a looming question remains: Is the industry ready for the depreciation of the cookie? Here are the key takeaways from our panel in Cannes 2024.

Insight one: Signal loss has already begun

As the advertising industry transitions to a cookieless future, signal loss is no longer a looming threat — it’s already happening. This shift is reshaping the landscape of digital marketing, forcing publishers and advertisers to adapt swiftly to maintain their effectiveness.

As Katsur explained, addressability has been at the top of the IAB’s agenda for the past two years, if not longer. Said Katsur, “I think it will remain at the top of our agendas for the next several years as we continue to see movements by Big Tech and regulatory pressures around privacy, which then has downstream effects on identity and addressability.”

“But signal loss won’t end there: there is a deprecation of the IP address, too; there’s regulation; there’s all kinds of reasons why this becomes an important topic for everyone to really pay attention to beyond … cookies.”

Kimberly Gilberti, Chief Product Officer at Experian

Signal loss is not just a technical challenge; it represents a fundamental shift in the relationship between consumers, their data, and the companies that seek to engage with them. “I like to think about this whole industry, the bedrock of internet advertising, and everything associated with it is about addressability,” said ID5’s Borgman. “It’s targeting, measuring, and the feedback loop that comes with it, right? And by and large, we’ve had a bit of a myopic view of how we actually identify, if you’re in a web browser environment.”

Experian’s Gilberti echoed those sentiments, adding that signal loss is not synonymous with the deprecation of the cookie alone. “It’s actually been happening for years; cookies haven’t been on many browsers in a very, very long time,” she said, in reference to Safari, Firefox, Brave, and others. Borgman also mentioned how audience identifiers have never really been applicable to podcasting or gaming environments. Instead, there’s more contextual targeting at play

“So, there’s obviously been a lot of time and attention paid to the deprecation of the cookie on Google Chrome,” added Gilberti. “But signal loss won’t end there: there is a deprecation of the IP address, too; there’s regulation; there’s all kinds of reasons why this becomes an important topic for everyone to really pay attention to beyond the focus on cookies in particular.”

Insight two: Solving for deprecation requires a layered approach

In the wake of signal loss and the deprecation of third-party cookies, finding effective solutions requires more than a single strategy — it demands a layered approach. As publishers and advertisers grapple with these changes, a multifaceted strategy that incorporates various technologies and practices is essential for navigating the new landscape.

For GSD&M’s Kersey, signal loss is the inability to understand where your consumers are coming from. “And speaking from the agency and brand side, when you’re investing millions of dollars reaching a specific audience, not understanding who’s actually converting or driving sales is problematic,” he said, adding, “from planning, activating, and ultimately measuring performance, and then modeling future campaigns.”

“And it’s incumbent on us in our partnerships in the industry to constantly be building the muscle to be ready for change,” replied OpenX’s Chisholm. 

The first layer of this new approach involves enhancing first-party data collection and utilization. Brands and publishers need help strengthening their direct relationships with consumers, ensuring they can gather and leverage data in a compliant and transparent manner. This means investing in platforms like OpenX that facilitate consent management and data enrichment while respecting user privacy.

“We’ve built a scaled and interoperable graph, with the ability to activate off multiple signals in the bidstream so that [OpenX] is not reliant on any one.”

Brian Chisholm, SVP Strategic Partnerships, OpenX

Another critical layer is interoperability. Ensuring that different platforms, solutions, and technologies can work together seamlessly will help maintain the flow of data and insights even as the ecosystem changes. Standardized protocols and collaborative frameworks are crucial for achieving this interoperability, fostering a more cohesive and efficient programmatic environment.

To address the needs of both publishers and advertisers, OpenX has partnered with Experian and ID5 to layer next-generation identity toolsets into the SSP’s proprietary audience graph

The graph is the very definition of interoperability and layering, with equal parts first- and third-party data and pre-built audience segments all rolled into one. This allows for unparalleled sell-side data curation; a first of its kind in the ad industry. “We’ve built a scaled and interoperable graph, with the ability to activate off multiple signals in the bidstream so that we are not reliant on any one,” said Chisholm. “And if any one of them falls out — the cookie, IP address, etc. — our partners still have coverage for the others.”

Insight three: Future planning for publishers and advertisers

As we look ahead to a post-cookie world, the future of digital advertising is poised to undergo significant transformation. The deprecation of third-party cookies marks a pivotal moment for the industry, prompting a shift towards more privacy-centric, transparent, and evolving advertising practices.

Gilberti believes there is hope in this novel, if daunting, future. Experian has run various tests that consider various factors including how a campaign’s scale, stickiness, and effectiveness would change. And the good news is that the ecosystem actually holds up quite well, according to Gilberti. “Identity doesn’t magically fall off just because of one particular identifier deprecating,” she added.

Borgman agreed, adding that building flexibility into the ID5 framework is a critical part of how they’re approaching deprecation. Plus, ID5 works with other ID solutions to support the ecosystem as a whole, because they’re not competing, and there’s no conflict of interest. For those reasons, ID5 is able to be layered into OpenX’s innovative graph. Said Borgman, “We think the flexibility of being able to take whatever signals our partners have to resolve identity and return it back to them to use how they see fit is the most important thing.”

“We think the flexibility of being able to take whatever signals our partners have to resolve identity and return it back to them to use how they see fit is the most important thing.”

Caitlin Borgman, Chief Commercial Officer at ID5

When it comes to publishers and advertisers, Gilberti believes it’s the ones who are actively planning as if deprecation is happening tomorrow who will come out on top. “Those who will win are the ones who are most forward thinking, the ones who are preparing ahead of time, and the ones who are diversifying now because as we said, signal loss is already happening,” she said. “You may actually get better results by trying some of these alternatives than you are by sticking with what you’ve done for the last however many years.”

On that note, Chisholm mentioned the work that OpenX is doing to help its partners prepare for the inevitable. “I think one of the values we can provide is lowering the work they have to do, reducing complexity and providing solutions that are more plug and play for them, so they don’t have to build and test everything,” he said. “And none of these things are mutually exclusive, just like there’s not one ID, there’s not one cookieless solution. They’re all going to have a place. And so I think our job is to help our publisher partners understand what is best for them, and then help them by providing it.”


These conversations have been condensed and edited for clarity.