AdTech Industry, AdTech Processes

The CIA, MI6, And The Cookie-Syncing Process [comic]

How many devices do you use to access the Internet?

If you are like most people, it’s probably at least 2, maybe even more.

A reported by Gfk (commissioned by Facebook) highlights some interesting facts about the reality of multiple-device use:

77% of users in the UK and 76% in the US use a smartphone while out and about.

50% of users in the UK and 43% in the US use a tablet for entertainment purposes at home.

86% of UK and 80% of US online adults use a laptop or PC at home for work purposes.

While the use of multiple devices is a seamless experience for users, for the various technology platforms operating in the online display advertising ecosystem, multiple-device use poses a challenge.

The challenge online advertisers and tech companies face relates to identifying and tracking users across multiple channels and devices.

Traditionally, cookies are the best way to identify and track a user across different sites.

However, there are two main challenges with cookies:

  1. Cookies from a desktop computer cannot be linked with cookies from other devices (e.g. smartphones, tablets, etc.)
  2. As cookies are domain specific, cookies created by one third-party tracker cannot be read by another third-party tracker. For advertisers, this restricts the potential amount of information they can collect about a user.

So how can the various advertising technology platforms identify and track users from across different channels and different devices?

Via a process called cookie-syncing.

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What Is Cookie Syncing?

In short, cookie syncing is a process whereby online advertising technology platforms (e.g. demand-side platforms, data management platforms, ad exchanges, supply-side platforms, etc.) map user IDs from one technology platform to another.

For a more detailed description and to find out more about how the cookie-syncing process works, read our post:

The cookie-syncing process is quite complex and difficult to get your head around.

Luckily for you, we came up with a highly visual and very interesting way to explain it: our cookie-syncing comic, titled – The Power Of Joint Collaboration.

Without giving too much of the story away, here’s a short synopsis:

CIA Agent Jack Byrnes and MI6 Agent John Cumming are trying to track down a woman who has been committing a series of cybercrimes in both the US and in the UK. By utilizing the power of joint collaboration, they are able to learn more about their main suspect and start to build a solid case. But will they be able to catch her before she commits more cybercrimes?

Here’s the cast and how their roles are represented in the online display advertising world:

CIA Agent Jack Byrnes = DMP #1

MI6 Agent John Cumming = DMP #2

Tatiana Kolacic-Romanovic = The Internet User

Tag the barman = Tag Manager

The comic also contains an explanation about what’s happening from the technical perspective.

So without further ado, Clearcode would like to present our cookie-syncing comic:


The Power Of Joint Collaboration - how the cookie-syncing process works.
The Power Of Joint Collaboration - how the cookie-syncing process works.

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