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Google Third Party Cookie Digital

The day after: the industry reacts to Google’s postponed cookie purge

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By Kendra Barnett, Associate Editor

July 28, 2022 | 9 min read

Google Chrome yesterday announced it will delay third-party cookie deprecation until 2024. It’s the second time that the tech giant has extended its timeline for eliminating the tracking technology.

Digital cookies illustration with small people

Cookies are here to stay until 2024 – and the industry is largely relieved / Adobe Stock

The marketing, media and publishing space is ablaze a day after Google for the second time said it will postpone Chrome’s moratorium on third-party cookies.

The Drum quizzed industry leaders and analysts on what the move means for data brokering and the future of digital advertising. Here’s what they had to say.

More breathing room for marketers

Sergii Denysenko, chief executive officer, MGID

This latest move from Google comes as no surprise. It’s not the first time they’ve delayed the cookie-cutting deadline and there’s still no universal, long-term alternative in place. While the delay is positive in that it gives the industry more time to scale privacy-compliant addressability methods, the third-party cookie’s demise is inevitable. Market players need to be prepared, and seek robust solutions to a cookieless world now.

Encouragingly, we know that 30% of ad budgets are already allocated to cookieless ads and that the industry is testing privacy-first alternatives, such as first-party data solutions and contextual targeting. For now, the open web is at a huge competitive advantage; the postponement of the cookie’s demise gives platforms outside the walled gardens a chance to strengthen alternative targeting methods in order to thrive in the privacy-first world.

Eric Vreeland, vice-president of marketing, People Data Labs

Google continues to delay the deprecation of cookies because, despite several rounds of warnings, the digital marketing industry still depends on the data they provide to target and personalize campaigns. But a cookieless future is inevitable, and this latest delay gives marketers another chance to consider what that future will look like.

Marketing tools powered by alternative data sources will allow businesses to continue reaching new customers and creating personalized messages and experiences without relying on cookies that track and surveil online behavior.

Adib Karbouj, head of ad operations, BcnMonetize

It’s been over a year since Apple’s iOS 14.5 privacy overhaul, which is a long time in the fast-moving digital advertising world. Agencies and adtech vendors have used that time to adjust marketing strategies and develop solutions to continue the delivery of relevant, measurable, privacy-first ads. Google extending the phase-out of cookies gives some breathing room for those who haven’t yet adapted, but at this point the industry overall feels well prepared. It will, however, be exciting to see what further innovations will emerge in cookieless tracking, targeting, measurement and audience segmentation over the next two years.

An indication that Google’s privacy tech is not yet ready

Andrew Frank, vice-president, distinguished analyst, Gartner

While not completely unexpected, Google’s announcement of further delays in its cookie deprecation plans does suggest that the path to a viable privacy sandbox solution is proving more challenging than they may have anticipated.

The winners are advertisers, publishers and adtech providers that have dealt with cookie deprecation in an agile way that frees them from long-term dependencies, but can still take advantage of their continued viability in ways that don’t conflict with other legal restrictions and rising user expectations of privacy. The losers are those that assumed loss of third-party cookies was imminent and responded by shutting down addressable advertising completely. Publishers, developers and marketers should not assume that this means they should put all attempts to address cookieless advertising on hold, but should continue to seek innovative ways to improve ad effectiveness while addressing data privacy without relying on cookies or Google’s changing plans for them.

Charles Farina, head of innovation, Adswerve

Google is still in the early stages of testing various proposals that solve use cases that currently depend on using third-party cookies. Additionally, there hasn’t been much traction around cross-platform adoption, specifically from Apple, Firefox and others, which indicated this would take more time.

This will likely be a net positive for the ad industry. With no clear replacements agreed upon for third-party cookie-driven use cases, this provides Google and the ad industry more time to come up with solutions that benefit as many stakeholders as possible, as well as hopefully the chance for cross-browser adoption.

An opportunity to be proactive with new approaches

Barry Padgett, chief executive officer, Amperity

Google’s announcement today that it is pushing back the demise of the third-party cookie until 2024 is like getting an extension on a term paper – you have more time to prepare, but you still need to get it done.

Lior Charka, vice-president of product, Outbrain

Given the current macroeconomic environment and its impact on the entire digital advertising ecosystem, the announcement should come as a relief for marketers, platforms and publishers who need more time to prepare. However, cookieless solutions go beyond playing in the sandbox – contextual platforms not reliant on cookies or identification frameworks can be implemented now to engage customers at scale.

Differing opinions on which technologies will win out

Orr Orenstein, chief operational officer, Aki Technologies

Google’s delays shouldn’t keep companies from adopting cookieless technology. This move is relevant for the Chrome browser, but others such as Safari and Firefox have already deprecated third-party cookies, for which solutions are needed. Investing in probabilistic modeling technology informed by quality first-party data positions technology companies [to win], prepared for when the cookie finally does crumble.

Barry Padgett, chief executive officer, Amperity

For brands, shifting focus to first-party data is the best way to future-proof a business for when the cookie clock runs out, and it also has benefits in the near term. The accuracy of third-party data has been steadily declining. It’s not unusual to see match rates falling to 60% or lower, alienating customers and wasting resources. A strong foundation of unified customer profiles made from accurate first-party data drives stronger results, with match rates that can reach over 80%. A holistic customer view reduces expenses, grows revenue and improves the customer and employee experience.

While there are lots of reasons to clean up your first-party data, the first use case is often connecting it with digital media spend. This helps avoid the fundamental issues with third-party cookies, including privacy concerns, data quality and increasing costs. Google may have pushed back the deadline, but brands that forge ahead with the shift to a first-party data foundation can benefit today.

Ken Weiner, chief technology officer, GumGum

Cookies were always an imperfect mechanism for making ads more relevant and personal. What’s more is that many of the proposed alternatives are premised on companies knowing even more about consumers’ identities.

We know that contextual targeting based on a person’s current mindset is a more effective and less invasive way to target advertising. Google’s plan to delay killing third-party cookies proves that everyone is buying time because alternate ID solutions have a long way to go concerning adoption. Exploiting personal data is no longer the standard, and contextual advertising is inherently a privacy-forward solution for advertisers looking to implement new targeting solutions as they equip themselves for the eventual phasing out of third-party cookies. Brands that continue their efforts to implement strategies like contextual in the immediate term will win in this new future. Brands that wait will lose.

Charles Farina, head of innovation, Adswerve

It is clear that server-side collection points, enriched with customers’ personal data, are going to power many analytics and advertising platforms in this future world. To this point, both Google and Facebook have made significant investments in building APIs and endpoints in these areas with enhanced conversions, server-side tag manager integrations and custom audience uploads. Publishers, developers and marketers should all be investing in these areas to ensure their ecosystem is moving in this direction.

Tal Chalozin, co-founder and chief technology officer, Innovid

While there’s a big focus on the impact of cookies, it’s clear that the big solution is a cross-devices privacy-safe identification solution – which is hard, and far from being solved. With the latest moves by media giants such as Netflix and Disney, it’s clear that streaming is where the puck is going when it comes to ad-supported content. Cookies will only impact browser-based content, but are not a solution for the connected TV or any of the app world. The push by Google is not only [intended] to allow the industry and Google to find alternatives, but to focus on the big challenge of solving cross-device, and specifically CTV, as a massive time-spent device.

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