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Birdwatching: The Latest in Cookieless Advertising Tech

Welcome to Birdwatching, where we keep track of all the latest updates on FLoC, FLEDGE, and the other avian-themed acronyms of the cookieless advertising world.

DeepIntent is building healthcare advertising solutions for the future, and as we’re all aware, the future — or more specifically, the future as of 2023 — will be cookieless. DeepIntent has been mostly cookieless since 2019, and having developed our own cookieless ID graph, my team makes it a point to stay in the know about the cookie deprecation timeline, how other companies are advancing their cookieless advertising efforts, and what other cookieless alternatives will emerge in the coming years. Each month, we’ll compile those insights here, so you too can have an awareness of what awaits us in the cookieless future.

For January, Technical Product Manager Tom Robinson provides an overview of Microsoft’s PARAKEET, while spotlighting some of the top headlines in the conversation around identity from the start of this year.

The “Bird” of the Month

January’s bird of the month is Microsoft’s proposal for privacy-preserving ads: PARAKEET, a.k.a. “Private and Anonymized Requests for Ads that Keep Efficacy and Enhance Transparency.”

This proposal defines an internet-hosted service trusted by the browser that assists in user interest inference and anonymization in the ad ecosystem. This service replaces the current model where ad networks store cross-site identifiers for internet-based ad targeting.

The key difference between PARAKEET and previously proposed approaches such as TURTLEDOVE is that PARAKEET provides a combined, anonymized ad request, while the others separate or fragment information across multiple ad requests (requiring simplified aggregate functions, such as the auction, to be client-side).

In most ads systems, user and contextual information are used in multiple stages, such as:

  • Ad relevance computation
  • Click and conversion propensity predictions
  • Policy controls
  • Creative optimization
  • Bid models
  • Pricing

Incorporating each of these capabilities in client-side aggregation methods is challenging and an oversimplification. As a result, Microsoft has proposed to provide non-fragmented, anonymized ad requests to perform key functionality while restricting parameters via differential privacy. In addition, they have also proposed to provide user transparency regarding ad interest and contextual information that could be sent in ad requests, as well as to allow the user to control the information.

What’s our take on it?

All in all, PARAKEET is a well-researched proposal that the industry should rally around. It has thoughtful solutions to both sides, preserving the ad dollars that power the free web while preserving privacy and giving control back to the users.

In Case You Missed It

Here are some of the top headlines from the last month.

For more insights about cookieless advertising and other goings-on in the ad tech and healthcare marketing world, read our weekly news roundup blog.

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