Another step towards the extinction of the third party cookie.
As most, if not all, marketers are aware we are watching the cookie crumble right before our eyes. First Apple announced anti-tracking policies for its Safari browser and now we are seeing a flurry of emotions as Google also confirmed that they too will be removing third-party cookies along with the launch of their Privacy Sandbox. As privacy regulation continues to sweep the globe all parties – publishers, advertisers and everything in between – are implementing new measures to build a privacy-forward digital ecosystem.
What is Google’s Privacy Sandbox?
Digiday’s WTF is Google’s Privacy Sandbox? article is a great primer for this topic. In short, at the same time as we watch third-party cookies crumble – largely in part by Google’s recent Chrome changes – Google has launched an initiative as an alternative to the cookie. The solution, the Privacy Sandbox, claims it will replace the cookie with five application programming interfaces (APIs) that will provide advertisers with aggregated data on actions such as conversions and attribution for where the user converted – all relying on anonymous signals provided by the user’s Chrome browser. It will rely on machine learning to understand the browsing habits of segments of similar users, but what makes it unique is that this data will be stored and processed within the browser making it privacy compliant. Given this initiative is still very early in development they have yet to actually build the platform/code that will eventually be available for marketers it’s hard to see the efficacy of this solution at this time.
What does this mean for Walled Gardens?
It goes without saying that the steps that Google has taken to eliminate the third-party cookie also enable them to further reinforce their walled garden. Essentially brands will need to work directly with Google or independent partners who have a relationship with Google to navigate this new walled garden. Bad news? Brands probably shouldn’t have all of their eggs in one basket, it is important to diversify the media mix and we will likely see smaller companies build their brands around this tenant. If you are an advertiser who likes to be in control of your data, you may find the walled gardens challenging.
Impacts for marketers?
Marketers and ad tech companies alike are left scrambling to find a solution that gives an accurate view of the consumer journey within a privacy-compliant model. Good news? Not all solutions in the digital landscape were reliant on cookies.
Some say we’ll see a revival of solutions such as contextual targeting and others say it is a shift away from behavioural based targeting altogether. In reality, desk-top era tools are clearly out-of-date and the consumer experience was declining due to both awareness of such targeting and annoyance of fragmented experiences. Given it is still early on in the year it may be too soon to tell how advertisers will shift, at this current time it’s safe to say that they are still trying to figure out how to replace the cookie but we may see some new opportunities arise from mobile-centric and location-based platforms.
Other solutions positioned as an alternative to third-party cookies.
There are many existing solutions that have never relied on cookies such as location-based targeting. We are also seeing a revival of contextual targeting, enhanced with such things as Natural Language Processing for sentiment recognition. And let’s not forget about predictive segmentation, good old machine learning-based insights. We may also see some shifting of budgets from paid into organic and social.
At the end of the day, the writing was on the wall, Privacy is the hottest topic and biggest disruptor in our industry. Since we will likely continue to see further changes we are best to embrace this new world and opportunity for innovative new targeting and attribution solutions.
Interested in learning more about how to navigate a cookie-less world? Contact us at firstname.lastname@example.org.