How To Serve Ads That Don’t Require Cookies

Many website owners have seen their fill rate in Google Ad Manager decrease recently. This guide examines how Google’s decision not to serve ads without user consent for cookies affects publishers and what alternatives are available.

The short version: Google's Ad Manager requires cookies to track the performance of ads. Other ad servers, can serve contextual ads which don't use any cookies. As a result, alternative ad servers do not need to gather consent for cookies.

In 2020 the IAB launched TCF2.0, a GDPR framework that provided the online advertising industry with the best practices for gathering user consent. Google signed up to this initiative and provided TCF2.0 integration for Ad Manager.

Google’s interpretation of the GDPR law and TCF2.0 framework has led it to decide that it will not serve any ads if users do not give consent for Purpose 1 (the right to “Store and/or access information on a device”).

This means that if a user lands on your website and does not give consent, they will only be served blanks. As a result, many publishers have seen a sharp increase in the number of blanks served on their sites.

Laptop with a browser open on a website with Snigel CMP Consent Management Platform (to serve ads without user consent)

According to Google’s EU policy, every site, app, or other property that uses a Google product must obtain user consent from users in the European Economic Area and the UK. In accordance with GDPR, Google requires this consent to use cookies for functions such as ad performance monitoring and frequency capping. Here’s a quote from Google:

“In line with our existing EU User Consent policy, consent for cookies or mobile identifiers is required for both personalized and non-personalized ads. For non-personalized ads, consent for cookies or mobile identifiers is still required because non-personalized ads still use cookies or mobile identifiers to combat fraud and abuse, for frequency capping, and for aggregated ad reporting.”

Why is Google Ad Manager stopping SSPs from filling blanks?

In August of 2020 Snigel detected that it would be possible to fill impressions without consent by using an alternative ad server. As a result, AdEngine, our header bidding solution sends all ad requests without consent directly to our own ad server. We don't need consent for Purpose 1 because we don't use any cookies in this process. Snigel can request bids from SSPs that do not require cookies to serve ads. These SSPs send across unpersonalized ads that can be shown in accordance with GDPR. The result is an effective increase in revenue and a strong increase in the website’s fill rate. If you’d like to find out about how Snigel can provide this solution for your site contact us here.

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Why is Google not filling direct campaigns?

Google requires cookies to monitor the delivery of direct campaigns. It is important to note that if publishers use GAM as an ad server direct campaigns will not be delivered if no consent is available.

Contextual targeting analyses the text and resources of a web page to determine what type of ads to serve. For example, if a user navigates to a web page about computer hardware, contextual targeting will show related IT ads. This process does not require Purpose 1 consent as no user data is needed for the targeting. Snigel’s AdEngine 3.0 uses contextual targeting when Purpose 1 is not available. This enables us to recover revenue that would otherwise be lost.

Some SSPs have started offering switches to publishers that direct any ad request without a consent string directly to the SSP. However, as with header bidding, if the SSP does not have to compete against other advertising demand sources it will pay a much lower price to fill the request. Therefore, if publishers are looking to maximize their ad revenue, they should use a  header bidding solution like Snigel’s AdEngine that can send ad requests without a consent string to all the top SSPs simultaneously. SSPs will then be forced to bid against each other to win the impression which increases the publisher’s revenue.

If you’d like to find out about how Snigel can provide this solution for your site contact us here.

About the Author

Ben is one of Snigel's Co-CEO. He works on business development and marketing - spreading the word about how Snigel can help publishers supercharge their ad revenue.


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