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Life In a Cookie-Less World: Part 5 – Interview with Travis Clinger

Programmatic In Your Pocket – Life in a Cookie-less World brought to you by our friends at LiveRamp. Visit LiveRamp to find out how they can help your business.

This episode features the full interview with Travis Clinger, Vice President of Global Strategy and Partnerships at LiveRamp. Travis is an international business strategist working to repair an imperfect ad tech infrastructure and reestablish consumer trust.

Your host Gavin Stewart, Marketing Director and co-founder of Ashton Media brings Short, Sharp, Stories and Solutions to the biggest challenges in marketing, advertising, media and CX. In digital advertising, the downfall of third-party cookies is imminent. For advertisers, agencies, and publishers, the future is opaque at best. But it’s in this uncertain future that I’m reminded of a key moment in history where the right team overcame obstacles both challenging and unknown.

The marketing and advertising industry has a somewhat unhealthy addiction to cookies and
their favourite digital treat is going to vanish.

With third-party cookies in decline and a move for the industry to look for long-term solutions,
opinions have become clear on the landscape of digital marketing and how it has changed over
the past few years.

We spoke with several prominent figures in the digital marketing industry, to discuss what
that the cookie-centred approach has meant for the industry since the inception of
programmatic by tapping into their experience and insights on the long-awaited

Into its 7th year, the Summit is firmly established as ANZ’s Programmatic Industry Showcase.
It’s the largest gathering of ANZ’s programmatic industry, and we’re delighted to announce
that in partnership with IAB Australia, the Programmatic Summit takes place in March 2020,
Sydney and Melbourne.

Programmatic In Your Pocket – Life in a Cookie-less World brought to you by LiveRamp. More
on the Programmatic Summit 2020 here.


Travis: [00:00:00] Programmatic is not the problem. The problem was, as an industry, we didn’t do a good job explaining the value exchange to the consumer. That when you share your identity, you get free content from the publishers. The deprecation of third party cookies is forcing the industry to rethink this. It’s forcing us to build a better solution, and it’s forcing us to be more transparent with the consumer. These are all great things.

Gavin: [00:00:29] Hello. I’m Gavin Stewart, Marketing Director and Co-Founder of Ashton Media and the host of Programmatic In Your Pocket brought to you by our friends at LiveRamp. Short, sharp stories and solutions to the biggest challenges in marketing, advertising, media, and CX. Up next, we’ll be playing the full interview with Travis Clinger. Stay tuned.

Please make sure to subscribe, rate, comment and tell anyone you know that’s interested in this industry about this podcast and your favorite episode. You can find AshtonCast on all the major podcast players. Go to for more info.

So ladies and gentlemen, I would like to introduce you to Travis Clinger, who is the Vice President of Global Strategy and Partnerships at LiveRamp. Travis Clinger. Welcome to Programmatic In Your Pocket from AshtonCast.

Travis: [00:01:31] Great to be here. Thank you for having me.

Gavin: [00:01:33] Fantastic, Travis. And for those of the people listening who don’t know who you are, can you tell us a little bit about yourself please?

Travis: [00:01:39] Absolutely. So I run LiveRamp’s global addressability strategy, so based out of San Francisco, California, um, but responsible for our strategy globally of how we enable publishers to leverage their first party data to connect to marketer’s first party data. So LiveRamp, uh, represents over 400 of the world’s largest brands.
And our goal is to enable those brands to use their data in a privacy conscious way to drive meaningful consumer journeys. Uh, and we do this by, by working with publishers to help make your inventory more addressable and help them drive a meaningful dialogue with their consumers.

Gavin: [00:02:13] So Travis, as a neutral play in online identity resolution, what does LiveRramp see as the main challenge for marketers and the advertising industry?

Travis: [00:02:22] Well, LiveRamp sees the main challenge for marketers and the advertising industry as the deprecation of the third party cookie. So Google came out just a few weeks ago and they announced by January of 2022 there will be no more third party cookies. This third party cookie is what the ad tech ecosystem is built on today.
It’s the foundation of everything from retargeting to allowing DSPs and SSPs to transact on inventory, to allowing brands to measure post-click through attribution and understand how their ads were formed. Every platform today in ad tech largely relies on the third party cookie for digital display.

And so we have this huge opportunity now as an industry to build a new ecosystem. An ecosystem that’s rooted in consumer trust. An ecosystem that’s more sustainable. An ecosystem based on people-based identity. We see this as an incredible challenge, but it’s also an incredible opportunity. As an industry we get to rebuild the entire ad tech ecosystem and we get to make it much better, much better for consumers, and much better for marketers.
Gavin: [00:03:26] So, how do you feel about third party cookies in general and have the upcoming restrictions to third party cookies been a surprise, or do you think they’ve been long awaited?

Travis: [00:03:35] I think they’ve been long awaited. LiveRamp’s been preparing for the end of the third party cookie for over four years now. So we recognized, four years ago, the third party cookie was always an imperfect identifier. You had many of them. They weren’t interoperable. They didn’t represent a person. They were really hard for consumers to understand.

So, ultimately, when you have personalized advertising happening, what’s happening is there’s a value exchange between consumer and publisher, and then the opportunity for that publisher to connect that consumer to a marketer to drive a meaningful consumer journey. The third party cookie provided the technological foundation for this, but they didn’t do it in a great way.

So, we’ve been working for the past four years to build an entirely new people based infrastructure on which advertisers can still interact with their consumers, but do it in a more efficient, more transparent, and a better way.

Gavin: [00:04:25] So, with data becoming more valuable and third party cookies disappearing, what, what do you think this means for the future of digital advertising?

Travis: [00:04:32] I think it’s an incredibly exciting opportunity, uh, for the future of the ad tech ecosystem. So digital advertising is not going to go away. Marketers want addressability. They want an open internet. We just had a summit a couple of weeks ago at our annual ramp-up event. And we had about two dozen of the biggest marketers and publishers join us, and all of them were committed to an open internet.

So, I think what you have here is you have a technological event that’s really rooted in a trust problem. As an industry, we lost the trust of the consumer, and now we get to regain that trust and we get to make it much easier for data to move across the ecosystem and just build a much more efficient ecosystem.

Gavin: [00:05:12] So, how crucial do you think it’s going to be for advertisers to identify post-cookie marketing strategies and do you think that the two year timeframe is going to be a heightened factor?

Travis: [00:05:22] So, first off, I don’t think we have two years. I think this change is going to happen before January of 2022. I think when you look at Google’s blog, they said that was the latest that was going to happen. I think we start to see those effects much faster.

Second, I think every advertiser should be planning for the post-cookie world today. The cookie, again, is a fundamental piece of advertising today. And as it’s being removed, there are absolutely solutions to replace it, but it’s going to take time for advertisers to learn how to use those, and every advertiser needs to go through and understand all of the different workflows and how they, how the cookie plays in each of those workflows and how they can use those workflows post cookie.

Gavin: [00:06:07] So, obviously there’s no denying that programmatic is groundbreaking technology. It’s brought new capabilities to the industry, and it allowed marketers to purchase data driven granular audiences at scale. To what extent is this going to change with the blocking of cookies?

Travis: [00:06:21] I think programmatic becomes more efficient and it becomes more transparent.
At the end of the day, programmatic is not the problem. The problem was that as an industry, we didn’t do a good job explaining the value exchange to the consumer. That when you share your identity, you get free content from the publishers. The deprecation of third party cookies is forcing the industry to rethink this.

It’s forcing us to build a better solution, and it’s forcing us to be more transparent with the consumer. These are all great things. We want to be all of this. So again, this is a huge opportunity for us to just make a much better ecosystem, better for the consumer, and better for the marketer.

Gavin: [00:06:56] So, obviously there’s a lot of fear out there, you know, and while Google’s move isn’t catastrophic, uh, the level of fear triggered by this small move shows just how reliant and vulnerable publishers, particularly smaller and medium ones, vendors and agencies are to one company and one browser.

How do you think we can improve the online experience for consumers and clean up the ad ecosystem as a whole community with industry wide change so that everyone benefits from it?

Travis: [00:07:25] I think it’s thought to have that dialogue with the consumer. I think we have to have the conversation as publishers and as marketers and say, let’s explain to the consumer exactly how we’re using the data, what the benefits are to the consumer, and why the consumer should share that data and their identity with us. So, I think as an industry, we’ve done a bad job with this in the past, and now we have this opportunity to do a much better job.

So, I think as we look towards the future, the future is really a first party relationships between consumer and publisher, and first party relationships between consumer and marketer. It’s not up to the browser to disintermediate those relationships. It’s up to the consumer to control their relationships.

Now we as an ecosystem need to make it easy for the consumer to do it. We need to make it easy for the consumer to understand what’s happening with their data, to be able to opt out if they want, to be able to change data if they want. So, there’s a journey that we have to take as an ecosystem, but really starts with how do we explain what we’re doing to the consumer and lean into this privacy wave that’s happening.

Gavin: [00:08:25] Great answer. And so with cookies based targeting and retargeting being significantly challenged, contextual advertising will have to seek new avenues. What’s your understanding of the use of AI driven NLP, real time sentiment analysis, and their potential to open up highly valuable inventory?

Travis: [00:08:44] So, I think we are absolutely seeing a shift to a contextual, to more contextual advertising.
We’re very much seeing the ecosystem success. There’s all these different ways to do contextual that you can use AI. Perhaps you can use fingerprinting. Um, our view, uh, is that contextual exist today. So it works already on Safari. It’s not that great. It doesn’t drive high CPMs.

As a publisher addressable inventory is always going to perform better than contextual. When you look at AI and you look at fingerprinting, you really have to ask yourself, is this a transparent solution? Is this something we should be doing with consumers? At LiveRamp, we feel super strongly that fingerprinting should not be used.

We feel that it’s not transparent. Uh, that doesn’t have the appropriate opt-outs that doesn’t have the appropriate notice and choice. Uh, and it doesn’t work in the spirit of privacy. So, I think as a marketer, as you look at all of these post-cookie solutions, and you see, uh, some new solutions, it’s are in fact, uh, just old solutions being repackaged, you’d have to ask yourself, can’t I do this today? Did they actually work on Safari already, which is a cookie-less world, and is it the right thing to do?

Gavin: [00:09:50] So, with the looming reduction of data from consumers, will brand marketing methods shift to known quantifiable methods of operation?

Travis: [00:09:59] So, I think as you see, adjustability reduce, um, you’re going to see marketers look at how they can make their addressable inventory more meaningful.

So, we call this buying smarter. So, as a marketer, maybe I buy less total impressions, but I pay higher CPMs for it because it’s addressable and because I can measure every impression. So as a marketer in this new world, how do I make sure that when I’m investing in addressable inventory, I’m able to measure the effects, understand the ROI, and make sure that I’m not just buying impressions, um, like you sometimes do today where you’re unable to actually measure the impact.

Gavin: [00:10:32] Great. And so, do you expect, uh, measurement metrics to change in order to measure new data?

Travis: [00:10:38] I think if there’s going to be a change in metrics and KPIs, uh, over the coming year. So I think a lot of our campaign metrics or KPIs, uh, will build on the idea of the third party cookie. They’ve been refined over the years, uh, but they will, it very much focused around how cookies and mobile device ID’s performed.
And now we have this opportunity to, to actually build much better metrics, we can say, well, we’re going to have people based identity in the ecosystem. Why don’t we measure off of that? But as part of that, that changes things. So, your frequency capping now becomes at the person level. Your suppression becomes at the person level.
You exposure accounts become at the person level, perhaps the household level. So as a marketer, you need to go through each of your KPIs, understand how those are changing. You may pay higher CPMs for the more addressable inventory, but get better click through rates and results. Uh, and so you want to review all of your KPIs and make sure that you’re adjusting your targets for this new people based world versus our old cookie-based world.

Gavin: [00:11:34] So, I just want you to think on your feet here a little bit. So, what are, what are three tips that you would give marketers who are panicking about life in a post-cookie world?

Travis: [00:11:44] First and foremost, look at all of your workflows. Find out where the cookie is involved. I think most marketers will be surprised to see how often the third party cookies involved into office.

The second tip is to start establishing more first party identity with their consumers. So, as a marketer, you have consumer relationships. How do you establish a relationship with that consumer where they share you identity. Were you able to better drive a meaningful consumer journey?

And then the third tip is, as a marketer, you need to start working with publishers and with the ad tech ecosystem on how you can start moving your campaigns beyond the cookie. And it’s time to do this now, not two years from now. You’re not going to be able to switch from cookie-based targeting to people-based targeting overnight. It’s a journey and the time to start is now.

Gavin: [00:12:30] So, Google’s two year policy path to restricting cookie use has at least given publishers some time to come up with solutions to protect and maybe even raise their revenues.

Uh, in what ways will publishers respond with solutions that will help them form their own versions of walled gardens to better compete with players like Facebook and Google and Amazon?

Travis: [00:12:49] So, I think we’re already seeing publishers start to build a more competitive solutions to be more like the walled garden.

So, publishers are leveraging the learnings of the walled gardens, and they’re saying, well, that’s the first rule of a walled garden is that before you can access the content, you have to share your identity. If you go to any of the large social platforms, the first thing they ask you for is an email address or phone number.

Well, publishers in the open internet can do the same thing. They have amazing content. They have been increasing the registration walls. They have been increasing the dialogue with the consumer. So I think they are focused on how they can capture identity. And then you need an ad tech ecosystem that can translate that identity in an anonymous and secure way and connect it to marketers first party data.

Gavin: [00:13:33] We’re now going to do the bonus round of questions. So, these are the rapid and quick fire ones. So, uh, it’s, it’s more about you and you know, you yourself and what you think about the future. So, who would you look up to as, as a mentor or a role model?

Travis: [00:13:51] Yeah, so I really look up to Brian O’Kelley. So one of the godfathers of ad tech, uh, you know, CEO of AppNexus.

Uh, I think Brian did a great job in really building out what is the modern day RTB, uh, and building out kind of a programmatic ecosystem that now powers the open internet.

Gavin: [00:14:10] And so, what books or podcasts or media are you consuming right now that are helping you with your day to day work?

Travis: [00:14:16] Yeah, so my current book on my bookshelf, uh, is The Quest, uh, which is a book about the oil industry and the history there.

And I think as you look into that industry, there’s a lot of parallels, uh, with the media industry. Uh, as well. Um, so you have a few big players out there. Uh, and then you have smaller players who are able to use technology and advances, uh, to develop their own niche market, uh, and then become more competitive, uh, with the giants in the ecosystem.

Gavin: [00:14:43] And, uh, a back, back to be more around ad tech here, so what is the one trend that you will most excited about in programmatic?

Travis: [00:14:50] The one trend that I’m most excited about in programmatic is the rise of first-party identity. So I think we’re really moving to a world where you’re going to have independent publisher, first-party identity connected to a marketer first party identity, and we’re really going to have the open internet, uh, become on par with the walled gardens.

Uh, and I think I’m super excited to see some of the money that’s been going into the walled gardens. We’re starting to shift away from the walled gardens and go back into the open internet.

Gavin: [00:15:18] And so converse to that, what’s the one trend that you like to see change or stop?

Travis: [00:15:23] So, unfortunately, I think one trend that I would love to see stop is a trend of fingerprinting.
So, I think with the Chrome announcement a few weeks ago, a lot of folks said, okay, the third party cookie is gone. How do we rebuild the third party cookie? I think that’s fundamentally the wrong way to approach this. So, we need to approach this as a trust problem, not a technology problem. And I’ll goal shouldn’t it be to rebuild a third party cookie or to do something that’s worse than the third party cookie ID fingerprint, but to build something better.
So, I think these trends where we’re focusing on immediate scale, while sacrificing privacy, we need to abandon those. It’s going to create a tragedy of the commons for the industry. Instead, the industry needs to focus on privacy first solutions.

Gavin: [00:16:03] Last question for you here, Travis, and, uh, if you could tell someone ten years ago, one thing about how advertising would turn out now, what would it be?

Travis: [00:16:13] Yeah, so I think if you look, uh, ten years ago, uh, advertising was really a world of ad networks. Programmatic was just beginning to take off and still had a couple more years before it would really come. I think what has happened is advertising has become incredibly democratized.

And this is great. We’ve seen enormous innovation. We’ve seen hundreds of new ad tech companies come up. So I think there’s this idea. Ad tech is in an ecosystem that’s really innovating now. Uh, and I think now what we have to do is we’ve innovated much on the technology side. Now we’ve got to innovate on how we make it better for the consumer.

Gavin: [00:16:50] Fantastic. And I think that brings our time here to a close with, uh, with Travis Clinger. Uh, any parting words for our listeners there, Travis?

Travis: [00:16:58] No, thank you so much for having me. I’m super excited to join you guys. Uh, and, uh, always a pleasure to chat.

Gavin: [00:17:06] AshtonCast Programmatic In Your Pocket was proudly brought to you by our friends at LiveRamp.
Please make sure to subscribe, rate, comment, and tell anyone you know that’s interested in this industry and about this podcast and your favorite episode. You can find AshtonCast on all the major podcast players, Apple Podcast, Spotify. Google Podcasts, Stitcher, and more.

This was produced by Pod Paste and Ashton Media here in Sydney, Australia. Executive produced by Daren Lake and Gavin Stewart, Audio Engineering by Aemyn Connolly, Story Writing Producer Charles Montano, and additional research and copywriting by Tim McDonald. Go to for more info.

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