Is this a final nail in the cookie’s coffin?

Jakub Ortzasek
By Jakub Ortzasek | 5 March 2021
Jakub Otrzasek

Jakub Ortzasek, APAC head of data & analytics, MightyHive

Google is taking the next steps presenting their vision of the cookie-less world, as their newest blog post outlines their intentions to assure a required level of privacy without a devastating impact on the advertising industry. Since Apple’s Intelligent Tracking Prevention updates to Safari invalidated third-party cookies for user tracking, all eyes were on Google.

When Google Chrome announced it would remove support for third-party cookies by 2022, many asked how they were going now to maintain their main source of income (advertising) with the impact of these privacy changes.

Google presents this challenge as privacy versus utility. For a while, we’ve been fed with developments about Chrome’s privacy sandbox, which attempts to balance privacy and some advertising features. Now it seems that Google found a way to go with FLoC (Federated Learning of Cohorts).

Here are some best-in-class principles we’re working with:

  • Targeting performance can be achieved in a privacy-safe way, a seemingly novel idea despite the ad industry’s claims over the past decade that they have provided notification and choice to consumers via programs like AdChoices.
  • User-level ad targeting and measurement is fading away and only certain sites will maintain that capability.
  • An alternative to user-level advertising is targeting and measurement based on “cohorts”, groups of users classified by so-called interests. These cohorts only be targetable if they are large enough to guarantee individual privacy, while still offering marketers a useful audience to target.
  • More of the mechanisms for targeting and measurement will move to a browser such as Chrome to ensure privacy and minimise transport of sensitive information.

These ideas are not fully developed yet and there will be an effort required across multiple parties to bring these ideas to life (publisher, advertiser and other industry players). With all these challenges, it is worth noting that Google’s solutions offer a way for advertisers to continue to use digital advertising for their goals while increasing privacy for consumers at the same time.

However, it remains to be seen how effective cohort targeting will be and marketers should still adjust their strategies towards marketing based on first-party data achieved through user consent.

In the short-term, marketers will have to navigate a blended mix of cohort targeting, user-consented marketing, advanced data techniques (like Machine Learning), and increased alignment with platforms and content owners with first-party data ownership. Marketing in the 2020s will require skill, knowledge, and experimentation to navigate effectively.

This means that further investments with partners that can advise on data strategy, a measurement stack, advanced tags like Google’s Global Site Tag, and cloud platform solutions are likely to yield a significant payoff for marketers.

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