What marketers must do as third-party cookies crumble
If marketers want to keep personalising and driving performance, they will need to focus on a programmatic solution with a people-based identity that links to first-party publisher data
By Ashish Sinha
Firstly, ‘cookieless’ is a bit of a misnomer. What folks are really talking about is a world without third-party cookies (3PC). Ever since Google announced its intent to remove support for 3PCs on its web browser Chrome, adtech companies, agencies and publishers alike have been scrambling to put together a solution to address this disruption. So, what’s Google doing instead of an alternative to 3PCs? As part of its Privacy Sandbox, Google plans to rely on aggregated cohort segments based on a user’s browsing behaviour, or Federated Learning of Cohorts (FLoC).
Google’s announcement comes on the heels of recent privacy updates and announcements from the company and its competitors. While the changes might sound well-intended, in reality, they affect the larger marketing community with no access to actionable data, while allowing large consumer platforms to continue building walled gardens in the name of consumer privacy. What this means is, the new rules will not apply to Google.
So why are these identifiers essential to marketers? They have been the main currency to identify users online and in app, and impacts identifying, reaching the right users and audiences. It also allows marketers to deliver personalised ads with a clear view on measurement, optimisation and performance. 3PCs have been heavily relied on as a component of identity, and advertisers will have to adjust course when it comes to delivering personalised ads. Analytics and attribution based on 3PCs will be much less effective.
How are marketers responding to the news? About 80% of marketers depend on 3PCs, which are used for far more than serving ads. When they’re gone, it will disrupt key components of the entire digital advertising and experience ecosystem: 83% believe their digital advertising efforts will be moderately to significantly impacted.
First-party data is king
Organisations that believe in the spirit of the open web have healthy and equally effective solutions that leverage authenticated traffic to serve personalised media, just like Google does on its owned properties. Marketers and publishers need to leverage solutions to build and activate their first-party data strategies. First-party data will help them nurture personalised relationships with their customers across owned and paid channels, enable retailers to unlock new revenue streams through turnkey media networks and publishers to maximise the value of their audience, while respecting consumer privacy at the same time.
Moving on from 3PCs
3PCs have always been flawed. They are not people-based, which leads to inaccuracy, and not persistent either. 3PCs can be deleted by browsers and by users; they can’t accurately identify people over time. So, it shouldn’t be a surprise that they are going away. The impact is twofold. Most publishers rely on 3PCs to make money. If they can’t identify and reach their users, they’ll have fewer revenue opportunities. Consumers may get ‘ad fatigue’ from seeing repetitive, less personalised ads.
If marketers want to keep personalising and driving performance, they will need to focus on a programmatic solution with a people-based identity that links to first-party publisher data. From a strategic perspective, it is also important to consider identity as a solution capable of winning in a 3PC-deprecated world.
The author is managing director, APAC & MEA, Epsilon