IBM Is Teaming Up With Nielsen for New Post-Cookie Ad Targeting Options

The tech giant says AI will be vital for personalization in a trackerless world

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IBM is teaming up with Nielsen on new ad triggers. IBM

IBM recently teamed with Nielsen to introduce a new suite of ad targeting tools designed to help marketers connect product sales with weather conditions without the use of third-party cookies and trackers.

The expansion of the tech giant’s weather-based offerings comes as big platforms like Google’s Chrome browser and Apple’s App Store prepare to discontinue support for certain cookies and identifiers. IBM is positioning the ability of AI tools like these to recognize patterns and make predictions with data as an alternative to such trackers.

With support from Nielsen’s Connect Partner Network—an ecosystem of analytics providers for the consumer-packaged goods (CPG) industry—IBM’s new tool can take big sets of anonymized data on sales, weather and location and analyze it in order to draw conclusions about purchasing behavior without the need for any identifiable information. The tool now draws from 42,000 zip codes across 500 different advertising triggers.

While some of these insights might be intuitive—people tend to buy more umbrellas in the rain, for instance—IBM has previously discovered more nuanced location-dependent behavior that a layperson might not expect, like that New Yorkers inexplicably gravitate toward coffee during humid weather, while Bostonians prefer it in the rain.

The deal with Nielsen and the new expansion will allow marketers to analyze these types of trends on even more specific level than Watson Advertising’s previous ad targeting tool.

“This partnership with Nielsen presents us with whole new datasets and a really granular level of data going down to the product category, sub-category and even individual brand level, where we never had that before,” David Olesnevich, head of product for Watson Advertising, said. “We’ve taken something that was performing and upped the quality level of it exponentially.”

Olesnevich said that Watson Advertising has been gradually preparing for a world without cookies for years by training and building up AI capabilities to provide a workaround for marketers. The company has been rolling out tools based around AI, such as creative performance measurement and natural language processing, since buying and rebranding the Weather Company in the last few years.

“We’re super excited and bullish about AI’s ability to be successful in the future and to close a lot of gaps to that that will be there,” Olesnevich said. “And it’s our ability to process data rapidly, our ability to augment the intelligence of humans with our capabilities that will do it.”

Olesnevich added that Watson Advertising has “an environment now where cookies are providing certain types of data for advertising decisioning.”

“Right now, we’ve got certain data sets that we’re capturing and we’re configuring and making actionable, so that advertisers can put the right message in front of the right user at the right time [without cookies],” he said.

@patrickkulp Patrick Kulp is an emerging tech reporter at Adweek.