POV: Third Party Tracking, What Advertisers and Brands Should Know

December 5th, 2013


Third-party tracking (also known as cookies), the technology advertisers use to track consumer behavior across the Internet has been in existence for years, but is now under heavy scrutiny. This cookie action serves as an identifier that allows both brands and publishers to define their consumer audiences and target these audiences with the right message. We need to consider what approach our online marketing efforts should take if relying on third party cookies becomes increasingly more difficult in the near future.

Data Tracking, Where is the Industry Heading

Third-party tracking has been under fire as a result of increased privacy concerns online. Consequently, there has been an increase in buzz around tapping into first-party data online because of these concerns.  Some web browsers are blocking the use of 3rd party cookies, such as Safari and Mozilla.  Combined with the surge of mobile device growth (which do not allow cookie tracking), the ability to track a user’s behaviors will become increasingly difficult.  First-party data will grow increasingly more important to tap into in order to target consumers.

Types of Tracking or Unique Identifiers

Before jumping in further on next steps, it is important to note the different types of tracking, which are currently being used in the online marketplace.

1st party data tracking: First party cookies are identifiers that are set by the website a user is visiting such as Google, MSN or an eCommerce site, which allow the site to provide a better experience and functionality, including the ability to log into an account, add items to a shopping cart or sign up for email program/alerts.  According to Mozilla (Mozilla, April 12, 2012) “first-party as web content with which users have “meaningful interaction.” So as long as someone has visited a company’s site, or clicked on its link, that company’s URL would be considered first-party for that person.”

3rd party data tracking: Third party cookies are small tracers saved to your web browser that follows your online activity, through desktop and tablet.  These are set by an advertising partner of the website/publisher which, among other things, enables the partners to load content onto the webpage or to load ads on behalf of advertisers and collect relevant anonymous data. Mobile devices cannot host a 3rd party cookie. Third party tracking/cookies allow companies to create web profiles on the user.  This data is then compiled into profiles, which then can target users in the form of re-targeting, look-a-like modeling and behavioral targeting, which will be discussed later.

Other forms of tracking:

  1. Privacy compliant IP based targeting capabilities
  2. Internet Access (ISP/Carrier) based targeting
  3. Contextual and Content based targeting

My Response, where do we go from here?

Third-party cookies are widely accepted in the industry to track and attribute events to the measurement of performance for campaigns, such as retargeting and look-a-like modeling. However, due to privacy concerns, it is inevitable that there will be shift away from third party tracking in some capacity. Utilizing first party data will create a closer connection between brand and audience. Such tactics are outlined below on next steps.

  • The use of the 3rd party cookies allows advertisers to re-target consumers on the publisher or network sites. This type of targeting is not going away overnight. It is a customary practice within the industry. Incorporating a DMP (Data Management Platform), would be a good first step in incorporating 3rd party data and marrying it with 1st party data. A DMP collects,  centralizes, controls and activate brand data from first- and third-party data sources, and organizes and distributes the information to various marketing, customer service, or advertising platforms.
  • CRM/Email database, a first party data warehouse, will offer a wealth of consumer insight, along with a cross-channel opportunity moving from display, video, mobile, social and email. Leveraging first party technology can help better understand your audience and isolate high performing placements, driving scale against performance metrics by mapping out a cross-channel journey and providing a solution.
  • Broaden partnerships with the portals and premium networks that have access to first party data. This is essential, because as advertisers we need to know how consumers are accessing information and making important brand decisions across multiple devices. C-K has partnerships with premium sites and portals to have better transparency and value within the media buys.
  • Another type of unique identifier is also on the horizon, which is known as IPV6. This will give every computer and every device a static permanent unique identifier, at which point IPV6 will replace not only cookies, but also fingerprinting and every other form of tracking identification. This is not happening right away, but something to keep on our radar as the online marketing landscape continues to evolve.  This is still a few years out before being implemented.


While this 3rd party cookie data is not disappearing overnight, it is a subject that we need to keep on the forefront of our conversations between agencies, technology companies and our partners. The current model of buying and targeting users is going to change in the future. The power of 1st party data will become more critical as 3rd party data becomes less of an influencer in some situations. With that change, who we partner with and how we target and talk to consumers across all devices will even be more critical.  Agencies should have conversations with brand partners to discuss leveraging first party data to target consumers.

Additional information:








Google Shopping for Suppliers – Paid, Owned and Earned Media

May 24th, 2013

What Is It?

Shopping for Suppliers is Google’s first foray into the B2B Shopping space. The program is designed to make shopping easier for both customers and suppliers by accommodating the unique elements that often accompany a B2B transaction (e.g. pricing and payment terms, shipping costs, volume discounts,etc.) At this time, Google’s revenue model is driven by a Verified Suppliers program (one-time fee of $1K), with benefits including having your products show ahead of those from unverified suppliers. It’s important to stress that the search results are largely “organic,” so at least for now there isn’t anything an advertiser can do to influence the listings beyond becoming a Verified Supplier.

What Does This Mean for Clients and Brands?

Currently, the program remains a Beta and is only open to the Electronic Components industry.Additionally, with low volume/awareness, Google Shopping for Suppliers is unlikely to significantly impact B2B companies in the near future. Early adopters may benefit from additional data, experience and optimization that could lead to decreased exposure/visibility for laggard entrants into the space. Additionally, as Google continues to tweak the offering—and if users/suppliers continue to participate in the program—Google will most certainly look for additional ways to monetize the platform. In fact, Google has already set the stage for a paid model in the Shopping for Supplier documentation, noting that Verification Fees “may change in the future, including to a pay-per-action model.”

What’s Next?

Given the relevance of results/audience, and potential benefits for early adopters, this as a test opportunity for applicable/brands clients. In the end, data and performance will dictate how this program fits into the overall marketing mix. Additionally, as with many Google betas, there is a possibility that low adoption/usage rates could lead to the program never making it out of Beta.

Additional Information


Google / Yahoo Contextual Partnership POV

March 24th, 2013
POV about the Yahoo partnership with Google.
Written by:
Mike Pocci:  Manager, Display Media (mike.pocci@rosetta.com)
Rebecca Keen:  Director, Paid Search (rebecca.keen@rosetta.com)

Executive Summary

  • Yahoo and Google have developed an agreement that allows Google to supply text-based ads across a portion of Yahoo’s owned and operated inventory and certain co-branded sites
  • Yahoo’s goal is to deliver a higher volume of relevant and targeted ads across their network by expanding to Google as a partner, as well as obtain new advertisers and grow the company’s revenue

Rosetta believes that the partnership is a positive step and creates further opportunity to effectively supplement Yahoo’s contextual platform.

Partnership Overview

Yahoo has continued to search for new partners that can enhance their media platform by increasing the scale, relevance and targeting of their advertising, and they have finalized an agreement with Google to accomplish just that.  The agreement, which is a non-exclusive, trial partnership (with no confirmation of a long-term partnership), will allow Google to supply text-based ads across a portion of Yahoo’s owned and operated inventory (including channels such as Yahoo! Sports or Yahoo! News) as well as certain co-branded sites.  The agreement encompasses text ads only and does not include any standard display, rich media or video ad formats.

This partnership makes sense, as Yahoo CEO Marissa Mayer came from Google and still has relationships at the company (she recently brought on former Google president of partners business solutions Henrique de Castro as COO as well).  In addition to drawing new advertisers and growing revenue for the company, Yahoo believes that the partnership will deliver higher volume and a more relevant and targeted ad experience across their network.  Yahoo will continue to target users with the most appropriate ad messaging based on the content they have viewed, but Google will now be able to access this inventory as well.

Why Is This Important?

This partnership provides a way for Yahoo to expand their network and continue to serve even more highly relevant ads to their users.  While this will not cause any change in the site experience for consumers, Yahoo will be able to maximize their contextual content-matching algorithm and targeting system by bringing Google into its inventory pool. 

This will have no impact Yahoo’s Bing relationship, as Bing is still the company’s exclusive partner for search.  The contextual partnership is strictly a text-based display advertising deal (so, in addition to Bing’s ability to serve text-based ads across Yahoo’s contextual network, Google now has the ability to do the same).

We believe that this development is a key step for Yahoo to continue enhancing their contextual offering.  However, it does not impact all aspects of Yahoo’s media solution.  The agreement is strictly based on contextual media buying.  There are no behaviorally-based audience-buying solutions that will be integrated between the two companies at this time.  There is also no impact on Yahoo’s exchange (Right Media Exchange), which is not a part of the agreement at this time (there is zero content availability across Google and Yahoo exchanges).

What is Rosetta’s Response?

We believe that this partnership is logical and has the opportunity to effectively supplement Yahoo’s existing offerings with a stronger contextual platform.  The partnership is considered an “alpha” release at this time, as Yahoo is testing the new model and does not currently have any information on whether they will be releasing Google further into their platform.

From a pricing standpoint, we anticipate that the higher amount of inventory in the Google system could potentially lead to lower CPMs across the Yahoo platform (especially if the program is expanded beyond a trial), as supply will effectively increase.  We will be monitoring the roll-out of this program and its success to determine the actual impact.

Finally, as shown by the efforts of both Google and Yahoo in the digital media space, ad experiences have continued to become more targeted and relevant, and we as an industry should not lose sight of user privacy and controls.  We should strive to keep communicating the idea of transparency to our audiences (with more relevant ads, we may see increased questioning from consumers related to why they’re being targeted, so we need to have an answer—ideally, a proactive answer).  Yahoo has done a great job being forthright with consumers through their AdChoices program and should continue to keep consumer privacy top-of-mind as this partnership develops.

Advertisers should not be concerned regarding traffic quality being affected.  If further releases will happen, our Yahoo team will report to us accordingly so that we are able to monitor traffic for any changes.  We will continue to stay aware of any developments within this partnership and will seek out updates on the success and monetization of the new contextual model.  We will also be on the lookout for a deeper partnership between Google and Yahoo, as this may only be a first step (although Yahoo has not shared any plans to do so in the near future).

How Does This Integrate Across Paid, Owned and Earned Media (POEM)?

The primary point of channel crossover within this contextual partnership occurs within the paid media space, between display advertising and paid search.  The ad format itself, as described above, is a text-based display ad, which is reminiscent of a standard paid search listing and has the opportunity to capture user attention based on its relevance to the surrounding content.  In addition, the technology used to deliver these ads is powered by keyword-based targeting functionality, a key element that drives paid search marketing.  This is a fitting example of continued integrated paid media planning and buying.

In addition, the partnership may allow Google to gain additional insights on user behaviors through Yahoo’s platform, potentially leading to opportunities for additional audience building and targeting.  Yahoo will be continuing to ensure that this integration will not impact the quality of their platform, hence the initial, trial partnership.  With each release, Yahoo will be reviewing to ensure that Google continues to align with their product and that quality does not decline.

Additional Links on the Topic

  • Clickz Article:


  • Fox Business Article:


  • Information Week Article:


  • Yahoo Blog:


Twitter POV for Financial Institutions

March 24th, 2013

Executive Summary

Financial Institutions, often held back by industry regulations, are rarely considered innovative when it comes to not only paid search, but also social media. However, incorporating Twitter into Paid Search strategies, vice versa is the perfect place for financial institutions to loosen their neckties, roll up their sleeves and show some personality into what the consumer is really looking for and/or leverage opportunities for their consumer audience. According to Comscore (2012) the audience for Financial Institutions is on Twitter.

The Twitter community wants to connect on a personal level, rather than learn about policy updates. This may sound like a challenging feat for those accustomed to financial institutes’ traditional platforms of communication. According to Bazaarvoice and Center for Generational Kinetics (Jan. 2012), 83% Of consumers say it would be important to read user-generated content before making a decision about banking or other financial services.”  Reality is that search and social are becoming more and more similar, forming a grey line with online marketing, with each marketing tactic influencing the other in important ways. The main goal is to build brand value and connect with consumers. To explain the importance of incorporating Twitter and Paid Search into the marketing mix, we’ve put together a few dynamic ways that Chase can engage and importance of each.

Chase currently participates in Twitter and paid search. In general, Twitter is a medium that a Chase can create an active dialogue with consumers around their products and services, with the main goal of building brand value, and a secondary goal of driving conversions. On the other hand, Chase uses paid search primarily to drive enrollments and conversion. But together, the two disciplines can increase the value that each program delivers. By creating social content that attracts an engaged audience, marketers can then craft targeted paid search campaigns to “capture” this audience and turn them into valuable Chase consumers.

1)      Make your search and social campaigns aligned for further reach

Make sure your twitter tweets are appropriately tagged and aligned with paid search ads, this copy for our top keywords (including hashtag in copy to align with Twitter Tweets). This will allow people searching for your brand content to not only find your paid search ads, but to find your twitter content as well. In addition, include a link to the Twitter handled on Google and Yahoo/Bing Sitelinks. This helps close the circle between search and social. Plus, it is the first step to building brand engagement through twitter and paid search activities is to enable consumers to easily find your content. Example #flywithnoblackouts in your twitter tweets and align # into paid search copy and paid search sitelinks.

2)      Keyword advertising on Twitter

Promoted trends/keywords within Twitter make your tweets heard by hitting users at times when they are most likely to read your tweet, see your comment or link, follow you, re-tweet, or even visit one of your landing pages. For example, promoted Tweets around holiday time highlighting the benefits of earning extra points with retailers  (Earn up to 10 extra points per dollar when you shop top retailers online, like Best Buy®, Buy.com, Lowe’s, Macy’s and more.) Chase and Rosetta can use paid search insights on top keywords that people are searching on and incorporate into promoted tweets or trends.

Best time to utilize this program is to highlight incentives, offers and promotions (both national and geo-targeted).

3)      Create social media-influenced paid search campaigns.

Closely analyze the topics and discussions taking place around on twitter campaigns, using tools such as Radian6. Using this tool, or similar ones will allow for the paid search teams to mine these discussions for new keywords that Rosetta can use in paid search campaigns on Google, Yahoo, and Bing. Whatever sentiment is on twitter towards a specific topic we are measuring, bid on keywords that reflect these conversations within paid search. For example, we could measure on twitter what people think about reward programs and credit cards. Rosetta could then mine those conversations into keywords, which we can tailor specific messaging. For instance we could tailor dinner clubs with the Chase message: “consumers earning 2x rewards dining out with Chase Sapphire and the ease with the program.”  This would be great at a local level, during top geo- restaurant weeks, or offer to an incentive to others to join to get the extra benefits of eating out. As always, Chase should measure the performance of these campaigns and increase investment on terms that are more likely to capture downstream conversions.

In conclusion, the main goal is to build brand value and connect with consumers. For Chase, integrating search and social media provide different benefits to your business. Chase should leverage their strengths instead of trying to force them to deliver results that aren’t suited to the medium. But by recognizing what each channel is good at, Chase can maximize overall effectiveness rather than operating your programs in silos.

Further Information Incorporating Paid Search and Twitter:


Director | Paid Owned Earned Media

Google Recipe Tool Delights Searchers, Stomachs

January 3rd, 2012

One of my favorite SNL skits is the NPR Delicious Dish episode with Alec Baldwin. I love food, eating, enjoying, staring, and smelling unique flavors to excite my palate. And, in fact, my post today will be centered on FOOD!

Currently at Razorfish, I work with a CPG client on the paid search side of the house. I get exposed to the “food industry” and all the latest trends or buzz surrounding food both offline and online.  Earlier this year, Google released the “Google Recipe Tool”, which foodies and non-foodies alike, jumped on-board. The feature lets users filter search results according to ingredients, cook time, calories and more. Users can search, for instance, for recipes containing certain ingredient, devised by a certain chef, and even narrow down to how long the item takes to prep and cook. Pictures, ingredients and one- to five-star user ratings are highlighted in the listed results, helping users quickly discover or bypass recipes.

Google Recipe Tool

However, with this sudden influx of searches on the Google Recipe Tool, the search engine decided to do something with this data. Google created the Consumer Food Index, a handy internal tool that was created to gauge recipe and food search queries, trends and seasonality. For me, that is called “winning” because the team and myself now have access to see what you, the consumer, is searching on, what kind of food you love, tips/tricks, and popular recipes. The beauty of this is that our team can make a stronger connection between a brand and consumer based on this data.  That is what I like to call, making online paid search magic.  For our team to create this “magic” and have access to this data, there are a few things to keep in mind:

  • This data is not available to the public. Sorry Mom.
  • The queries are a request made to your Google Reps.
  • The Data Dump of the queries comes in a raw excel file. Thousands upon thousands of queries. *Google is hoping to find an easier way to extract the data, but in the meantime, your search team has the chance to get down and dirty with the data.

This tool is even more valuable to a paid search marketer, since Q4 is the largest volume of search on recipes, snack ideas and holiday meals.  The chart below highlights spikes in search around Q4.

Google Trends in Food and Drink

Why is this even relevant to you…? As a search marketer, it is crucial to have more data available to identify valuable insights within the user’s behaviors throughout the search process.  Gaining as much insight as possible into the consumer behavior, activities happening offline and online, will ultimately lead to a more positive online experience for the user. In addition, it will also establish a stronger connection with the user to the brand.

Search and the Rise of Tablet Devices

May 30th, 2011

This POV will outline recommendations for optimizing search marketing experiences on tablet devices.
Savvy digital marketers know the importance of multi-channel strategies; the industry was born as consumer behavior shift towards online content. The rapid adoption of smartphones and tablet devices has created another new channel to reach consumers.

Consumer search behavior is no longer confined to the desktop. By the end of 2011 Google expects 16% of their total searches to come from mobile devices. Apple just released iPad 2 and there are nine alternative tablet devices just around the corner1. Apple sold 14.8MM iPad units in 2010 and some analysts estimate Apple sold close to 1MM iPad 2 units in the first weekend2. It is reasonable to expect search volume on tablet devices to grow with consumer adoption.

Read Full Article Here: http://razorfishsearch.com/2012/03/02/double-take-rise-tablet-devices/#sthash.LwgKCR92.dpbs

What’s the Deal Santa?

December 3rd, 2010

It is the ever-so-popular time of year, where us consumers are inundated with constant reminders that the holidays are soon upon us. I personally look forward to it, not for the days full of gift giving and receiving, but the 24 hour marathon of The Christmas Story (and for the record, I do own the infamous leg lamp).

However, what I have on my mind during this time of year is in the minority. Consumers are preparing to ramp up on the holiday shopping, and retailers are ready for the shoppers to come flooding to their doors or websites.

Retailers are looking for ways to break through the clutter and lure customers to spend spend spend, whether offline or online. As the consumer rolls out holiday plans, they will include online research to help ease the holiday rush and find the best deals around. Retailers are going to be pushing “special offers” in the upcoming weeks (especially in the online space), such as free shipping, promotional coupons, etc…

According to Google Trends, the holiday deals spike began as early as October, as if you did not already know that from walking into your local Macy’s store.

With that, retailers, or search marketers for retail companies, should keep a few best practices in mind during the holiday season.

  • Make sure to allocate appropriate budgets and include promotional messaging on key shopping days like Black Friday, Cyber Monday, and Green Monday
  • Incorporate the spirit of the holidays in all marketing channels, including the website
  • Create unique landing pages for Holiday Gift Guides and Specials
  • Test marketing messaging and offers to see which resonate best with your audience
  • Be relevant to your consumers and personalize when possible

I wish you happy searching and to all a good find!


Dear Santa,

If you are reading this a) I have been nice and b) would like an official Red Ryder. I’ll leave the cupcakes out for you to enjoy.

Your loyal fan,


A Google Crackdown on Rogue Pharmacies, or Just a Bad Western Movie?

October 1st, 2010

Google (i.e. John Wayne) is roping in the bad advertisers (bandits) once again in the recent crackdown in the online space. If you think this feels like the intro to a John Wayne Wild West movie where the good guy goes after the bad guy through a series of standoffs, you might be right.

Google announced on September 22, 2010 it is going after rogue pharmacies and filed a federal lawsuit against fraudulent pharmacy advertisers that illegally advertise on its’ search engine. The announcement may not be surprising when you consider that Google has been facing exponential growth in the number of advertisers claiming to be a source to sell online drugs. Plus there are additional regulations coming down on the healthcare industry from the FDA, which impose further restrictions on advertising.

Google does have safeguards in place to prevent the promotion or misuse of illegal pharmaceutical products. However, even with these safeguards in place there are still a small percentage of pharmacy ads from rogue pharmaceutical companies that continue to appear on Google.  So the showdown continues….

2010: the Year the West was Won?

The FDA has also been involved in combating “fake” pharmacies and advises consumers to alert their doctor and pharmacists when they encounter non-approved FDA drugs.  According to the FDA, “this practice undermines safeguards of direct medical supervision and a physical evaluation performed by a licensed health professional,” says Jeffrey Shuren, M.D., medical officer in the Food and Drug Administration’s Office of Policy, Planning and Legislation.  While the FDA has come down on drug companies for advertising, the agency is trying to maintain the regulated advertising practices so consumers know when they read or view drug information in the online space it is 100% accurate and safe.

Google, along with other online spaces, is under a microscope from not only the government but legitimate advertisers. This latest move from Google will hopefully deter rogue pharmacies from continuing to illegally advertise online. Will this be a happy ending like in most Western movies, or is this only the beginning on this frontier?

Vertical Restrictions a Slippery Slope

September 15th, 2010

Rewind, it is April 2009 and the FDA, in a surprising move, posted  14 warning letters to their site. The issuance of a warning letter is well within the scope of the FDA and DDMAC (Division of Drug Marketing and Communications) and would not, in and of itself be special, except for the fact that the ads discussed were sponsored paid search ads within Google, Yahoo or Bing and the issue at hand was the use of brand names by pharmaceutical companies in their search copy.  Specifically the issue was that you couldn’t have a branded search result from a Pharma company without the accompanying fair balance.  Once the letters were posted, pharmaceutical ads began disappearing from search results; companies pulled their ads to re-group and work with internal teams and agency partners.

In recent months, Google has created the Google pharmaceutical policy and a new advertising format to address FDA concerns: The Google Ad Format for FDA concerns.  Bing and Yahoo have not announced how they might approach the FDA guidelines.

The end result of this action was to reinforce to the marketing community that online advertisement is no different from other marketing media. It is not the media but the message. And treating branded searches like other media would result in a better experience for the consumer.

Is it a better experience?

It has been almost a year since the letters were posted and what is the result? Is there a better consumer experience or a better experience with the brand online?  I respond with an unequivocal, “no.”  Since within the health landscape only the pharmaceutical industry is regulated by the FDA, everyone except the owner, creator and provider of the branded product may use the product name as they will. So this action has created nothing more than a search environment where the consumer is protected from the only entities that are providing a worthwhile and efficacious treatment for their illness.

Removing manufacturers from searches related to their products in an effort to not mislead consumers is a slippery slope.  Let’s think about another regulated sector, say food manufacturing.   I would love to see a food manufacturer advertise their brand on Google, and in fine print have a warning label saying that a person “is at risk for e. coli if you choose to eat xyz product”, or something of the like. One could argue that this is a fair assumption and warning to the consumer. If the government is going to impose restrictions on one vertical to “protect” the consumer, then shouldn’t they implement the same practice across the board?

So, is the FDA really protecting the consumer? Are consumers really getting a better experience online?  I say no to both.It might have been a better option to discuss what the marketing industry can or could do before stating that they were using search in a way that puts consumers at risk.

The Great Cupcake Quest via Digital

August 23rd, 2010

Confession: my guilty pleasure and my true love are cupcakes. I go to great lengths to find the perfect cupcake, no matter which city I am in. In my quest to find the perfect cupcake shop, I search the web for all the local cupcake shops, read reviews and just recently started to turn to my trusty iPhone to use one of my location-based apps.

There is no denying that location-based apps are dominating the social space right now and are changing people’s approach to finding items or businesses. These apps are a simple way for business to build discovery and drive customer loyalty.  These interactions prove mutually beneficial: apps like foursquare allow local businesses to post specials and review data on check-in behavior and users can give tips, read reviews and redeem offers. Thanks to foursquare and businesses posting specials for check-ins, I have redeemed several discounts for free cupcakes, coffee and ice cream. I find myself visiting more local businesses to take advantage of specials they post via foursquare.

My increased reliance on these apps has highlighted areas that warrant further exploration. For example, I would love to see location-based apps recommend business or services based on my check-in behavior. Behavioral targeting would be a great way to facilitate new discoveries based on a user’s past behavior.

A recent Forrester report pointed out that adoption of foursquare and other location based apps is still too low to warrant strategies from major marketers. That may be the case, but adoption will likely increase with the recent Facebook Places launch and it’s time for big marketers to pay attention. With more and more people using foursquare and Gowalla and new location-based applications hitting the market, including Facebook Places, where is the future headed? Share your thoughts below (and any tips you have on the best cupcake shops in your city).