Google announces their “path to eliminating third-party cookies”

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With Google announcing their path for eliminating 3rd party cookies, Macy Edwards takes us through the plan and how you can overcome challenges

Google announces their “path to eliminating third-party cookies”

We have all been wondering over the last year how Google will approach their commitment to eliminate third-party cookies, like other browsers such as Firefox and Safari already have. Yesterday they finally released an article outlining their progress with building a privacy-first future for web advertising.

What is their approach?

Last year they shared their idea for ‘Privacy Sandbox’ technology which has since evolved into FLoC (Federated Learning of Cohorts). This is basically an over complicated way of saying ‘Interest-based Advertising’ - they started investigating the concept of targeting groups of users with common interests, as opposed to individually identifiable users. They believe this new innovation can deliver results ‘nearly as effective’ as cookie-based solutions but, wow, this screams of a lack of a transparency and poorer accuracy for advertisers!

What is FLoC?

Essentially this future had already been dictated by Google years ago. With the automation and machine learning product releases across their products, expansion of audiences across affinity, in-market & life events they are starting to shield the source of data from advertisers (less so for their own benefit!).

Ads will be served to clusters of large groups of users with similar interests, enabling users to effectively ‘hide in the crowd’. It’s believed FLoC can provide an effective replacement signal for reporting Google Ads and advertisers will be able to see at least 95% of the conversions per dollar spent. This release will be rolled out in the March Google update.

What does this mean for remarketing?

This area is still undecided and they are considering options such as Server to Server API’s. In addition, they are still in the experimentation stage to solve both this problem, along with how their bids in auction decisions are made as the ML bid strategies they’ve been developing will also need to evolve.

So, and this is frustrating to hear, owning your own data is the most important way of overcoming this particular side effect of the update. There are a lot of ‘bring your own’ models whereby you can upload hashed data from your DMP to a DSP, enabling you to still target your customers. Although, it is then your responsibility to manage and maintain in the new privacy-first world!

Now the big question, how do we track conversions?

We’ve been talking to Google for months on the Conversion API. We first saw sight of this last September, but it is now being rolled out more widely. They will be restricting the amount of ‘noise’, so we will need to prioritise the conversion data that is most important for reporting. They have suggested that we will be moving to a method of click-through conversion reporting – outside of this though, the ultimate solution is largely undecided and the solution for bids at auction and audience targeting need to come first.

Importantly, how will this affect me?

Well fortunately, there is some data to show how users will be affected. Google ran a study over 3 months on their top 500 publishers and evaluated how the presence of a cookie affected programmatic revenue. Unfortunately, traffic without a cookie resulted in on average 52% less revenue for the publisher. That’s a big reduction to overcome.

So, what do I recommend?

For me there are three key takeaways:

  1. Data first approach – ensure you are building trust with your customers and your base in advance of this change.
  2. Cookieless options – we are moving to advertising being an audience first world so ensure you are exploring the various cookieless options being shared by platforms like server-side API’s.
  3. Know your customer – personas are more important than ever, what motivates them and how can we use rich content to engage them in our buying journey.

I do think this will change the way we work and advertise, and ultimately agree user privacy is very important. Yes, it will make our jobs harder due to the lack of transparency, but it’ll also bring people back into the mix as it takes humans, emotion and judgement to help us navigate the cookieless future.

Are you looking for clear direction over how your company should approach the cookieless future? Sign up for our Cookieless Tracking Deep Dive to get bespoke insight in how you can tackle these updates head-on.

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