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On this page you can find the answers on the most frequently asked questions about online advertising without personal data at Ster. Can't find your question? Please do not hesitate to contact us at!

Why can I not advertise with cookies at Ster?

On the 1st January 2020 Ster switched to advertising without personal data. As this personal data was gathered using advertising cookies, it is no longer possible to advertise with cookies at Ster.

Factors in making this decision were the public debate on privacy, the lack of transparency for customers and the announcement by large browsers such as Safari, Firefox and Chrome to block advertising cookies by default. Another, immediate, reason was the tightening up of the privacy legislation that resulted in the NPO (the Dutch public broadcaster) being required to ask visitors for their consent to place cookies. This step led to only one in ten visitors consenting and Ster losing 90% of its online advertising possibilities: a clear signal from the  public.

Ster therefore went in search of alternatives. As many of these alternatives are still debated, we have chosen our own solution and the safest route, in which we do not use any personal data for advertising purposes. Due to the positive results for our clients, the audience and Ster, we decided to step away from cookies entirely and remain future proof in this changing online media world.

What does this mean for me as a consumer?

As a visitor to the NPO network you benefit from our move to advertising without personal data: it means that your data is not shared with third parties. This way your privacy is guaranteed and you can view the content in a safe environment.

What does this mean for me as a brand/media agency?

Ster no longer uses personal data for advertising purposes and has increased the transparency of the technology for online advertising at the same time: a brand or media agency can make their own decision if and how many parties they use to access the content. This way you know exactly to whom your advertising spend goes to. For example, because there is no longer campaign budget leaking to invisible intermediaries, as a study into the programmatic landscape shows, you can increase your presence for the same amount of money.

How can I advertise effectively at Ster without using cookies?

Advertising cookies are often used to select the right commercial for the right audience – the aim being to be as relevant as possible. Even without the use of advertising cookies however, you can still reach the most relevant audience.

Even though we can no longer see who is viewing the content, we do know what content is being viewed. In order to place your commercial as effectively as possible, we use our improved method for contextual targeting. This new technique is more precise and realistic than regular contextual targeting: we look at all possible metadata including descriptions and subtitling of video clips and the full text of articles and websites. This way we can determine the topic specifically and place your commercial alongside the most relevant content.

The use of subtitles is useful, for example, for talk shows, which would previously be placed in the context of ‘News and Current Affairs’. Talk shows, however, have different guests on each show and varying topics and discussions and these conversations can sometimes take off in an unexpected direction. Our analysis of the subtitles allows us to determine exactly which topics or themes are discussed and whether your commercial is best suited there.

Is advertising without cookies less effective? What about contextual targeting?

An understandable question is of course, whether advertising without cookies is less effective than advertising with. In 2019 Ster studied this question. At that time we still offered advertising with cookies alongside the alternative of advertising without cookies, allowing us to make a good comparison.

It showed that there were no significant differences between advertising with or without cookies and that, for example, the conversion was the same for both campaign options. As these results were similar for multiple brands and various campaigns for video and display, Ster felt that the transition to advertising without using cookies could be made.

In addition we looked at the results for advertising through our new method of contextual targeting. In order to do so we split the campaign of Eliza was Here into advertising based on demographics and advertising on context. The result? The travel brand achieved better results through contextual targeting and shifted the budget.

Would you like to know more about this study and the effectiveness of campaigns without cookies? Then you can download our study A future without advertising cookies? It’s possible.

What should I bear in mind when creating my advertisement if I want to advertise without cookies?

It is important to make various creations that are suited to the content around which you will be present and on the device on which your commercial will be viewed. This way you will be most relevant and increase your advertising rating. Read more on adapting your commercial in our studies Online beleving and Reclamecreatie: de kracht van aanpassen.

Can I still purchase programmatic at Ster?

Yes, it is still possible to purchase programmatic, automated, at Ster. The difference is that no personal data is sent into the advertising chain. Parties can now bid on the metadata (the content information) that is available. It is required however, to make agreements and to conduct checks on the technology and creation, so that the buying party cannot place cookies.


I am a publisher , is the switch to advertising without personal data something I should look into?

Advertising without personal data proves to be positive for the audience, the client and the publisher. The audience can use a fully secure network and clients achieve equal or even better results on all KPI's without cookies. We see that our switch to advertising without cookies has resulted in many satisfied Ster clients.

But there are more reasons, as an publisher, to consider advertising without cookies. The costs are lower, because fewer (intermediate) parties are needed. Furthermore, time is saved that was previously needed for updating the consent module. Moreover, as an publisher you are completely in control of what happens on your network. Would you like to find out more about this? Then please contact us at

What can the switch to advertising without cookies do for my online revenue?

When the implementation of the GDPR made it obligatory to explicitly request visitors’ consent to place cookies, only one in ten visitors consented. This led to a loss of 90% of online advertising space for Ster – and consequently its online revenue.

With the rapid switch to advertising without cookies we have seen a steady growth in our revenue. The continuous development of our adserver, the advancement of our contextual targeting possibilities and the sufficient number of cases have contributed to this. Using these cases, we were able to show that advertising without cookies does not affect your campaign results.

In addition to that, it does not require an adjustment to your business model regarding the type of customers you do business with. The split in spend between brands and media agencies has not undergone any great changes after switching to advertising without cookies. Media agencies still form the majority of the online revenue.

Can the switch to advertising without cookies also work for smaller publishers?

We see positive results for both our bigger and our smaller websites and for both the wider and the more niche context categories. When we look at all titles of the NPO, we see – in addition to a growth in the number of delivered impressions on large titles – an actual increase in the sales and delivery of display messages on smaller websites.

It is also worth mentioning that Ster is confronted with many restrictions for online advertising, both for display and for online video. For example, only one display commercial may be displayed per page and this is only allowed on twenty of the more than five hundred NPO websites. As for online video, they may only be used as a pre-roll (this means before a clip or broadcast) and there may never be more than two spots displayed. The number of commercials within the NPO domains remains ‘small’ in that regard. This shows that this new technique without personal data can also be used effectively for smaller titles and networks.

My network does not use subtitling. Can I still target on context?

Naturally, the more metadata available, the more accurate the prediction of the context is. But even without subtitling, targeting on context can still work well: descriptions, labels and key words can then be used.

I cannot find my question here. What do I do now?

If you have a (follow up) question about online advertising at Ster, then please contact us at