In this piece, Alpha Digital head of digital experience, Grant Collins [pictured], outlines how complacency will be marketers’ biggest enemy with Google’s cookie removal delay.
Despite Google’s delay in the third-party cookie deadline, marketers need to continue to wean themselves off their cookie habit or risk losing user confidence and respect for their brands. Some potential complications with a cookieless world could be greater than most expect, so now is the time to double down efforts.
Many marketers breathed a sigh of relief when the delay was announced.
There were a number of reasons marketers hoped Google’s deadline would be pushed back. While many were skeptical about the tight deadline, the general consensus was that Google was going to continue moving forward with its plans right up until the moment the delay was announced.
Google’s removal of support for third-party cookies is a fairly fundamental shift. There are many large-scale businesses and arguably entire industries that are built on top of improving the accuracy of attribution and targeting. Google’s planned date accelerated past the existing political pressures emerging around privacy, putting many of those businesses at the risk of being made partially redundant.
The delay will benefit the businesses that were caught off guard.
The delay will allow marketers more time to prepare, but it’s established publishers who will see the biggest benefit of this extension.
While the longer runway will allow better solutions to be developed, meaning the average internet junkie may end up having a greater semblance of privacy online, cookies are merely the most common solution for knitting together digital identities. Other tracking solutions will emerge.
The biggest risk for marketers is apathy.
Apathy will lead to a lost opportunity to prepare for the pending change. Less digitally savvy businesses may not only de-prioritize the work to enable effective ‘cookieless’ marketing, they may also use this turn of events as an argument not to invest in this space. The thinking might be: why make such a big investment if everything could change again in 12 months
Pushing forward will have three major benefits.
First of all, a head start means greater practice at targeting in a cookieless world.
Secondly, businesses who do take this step will be able to analyze any trial campaigns with richer data points and optimise their approach before those data points are also lost.
Thirdly and certainly not least, brands that respect user privacy will earn extra goodwill. Afterall, the movement behind all of this comes from a groundswell of voices who ultimately don’t wish to have business using their data in the way they currently are.
It is hugely important to grasp that those voices are not a minority, but the vast majority. There’s no question about that preference, just look at the impact on Facebook from iOS14.5 alone. We estimate ‘opt-in’ rates as low as 7 per cent for some businesses we partner with. Australians in particular seem very sensitive to this topic.
Just get started.
We cannot offer one single best piece of advice, as it really depends on your existing tech stack and state of digital maturity, but for clients that have the resources or budget, our advice is to just begin:
- Include server side tagging in your tracking solution.
- Carefully consider how you are using your CDP (Customer Data Platform) – as this tool will become your most powerful ally.
- If you are not utilising a CDP in one shape or form, start your journey now.
- Trial new campaigns that do not rely on cookie-driven targeting to begin upskilling in this space.
Data is increasing in value.
The race is still on and has actually increased in ferocity. Smart companies are ramping up efforts to gather rich information while they can. Data has been gold, and the value of that gold will only go up as it becomes scarcer.
- Make sure you are collecting as much data as you can around your audiences’ habits so that you can understand their decision-making process as deeply as the data will allow.
- Ensure that data is being collected in a way where separate data points and even user level data can be easily expunged. This means you won’t lose as much when there are more restrictions placed on what can be collected/stored.
- Build the richest data led models that you can now before it becomes harder.
- Become familiar with new audience modeling driven by machine learning.
What is no one else talking about around this delay?
Amazon’s decision not to support FLoC was a very interesting move. There’s been a lot of speculation that Amazon will move to grow their own presence in the online advertising space.
It’s also key to remember that this discussion around cookies is only one facet of the bigger picture. The power struggle is actually user privacy versus the desire for accurate attribution and targeting. Cookies are only one tool, and potential technologies that merely set out to replace cookies may have a very short lifespan if they fail to offer greater protection to the user.
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