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How does the extinction of third-party cookies provide opportunities for marketers

The first in our Catapult series on the evolving relationship we have with data, Chris Laas, Head of Digital Marketing, discusses how Google crumbling the 3rd party cookie can provide opportunities for marketers.

The ripples of GDPR are starting to be felt, and as marketers, the effects are truly game-changing.   

In January, Google announced that Chrome will phase out all third-party cookies on their browser by 2022. It’s the latest development in a long string of changes to the way data is collected and used.

While there are a number of issues for marketers to deal with, it’s not all doom and gloom. Changes present opportunities, and, as marketers, we need to look at what the changes mean for you to obtain first-mover advantage.

Why is this happening?

Quite simply, people have become increasingly concerned over the last couple of years about how their data is being collected and used, not to mention fed up of being followed around by poor quality ads. GDPR was the catalyst for change.

Tech giants such as Apple and Google have been forced to not only consider users privacy and experiences online but protect them. The result of this began back in 2017 when Apple introduced Intelligent Tracking Prevention, the latest version of which hinders even the ability to collect first-party cookie data, never mind third-party!

How will it affect you?

We are facing a world with less measurement and targeting. This has huge repercussions on attribution. Without the use of third-party data, our current understanding and use of attribution, be it view-through or multi-touch, will need to change. That’s the big issue. 

From a channel perspective, paid search and social campaigns will be affected. This change will create a fundamental shift in how our industry understands and activates identity, which underpins everything we do – such as planning, activation and measurement.

There is good news though. Google are already working on future tech through ventures such as Privacy Sandbox, a way to curtail improper tracking while continuing to allow ad targeting within Google’s Chrome browser. 

So, what are the opportunities for marketers?

There are number of ways to get on top of these changes sooner rather than later.

  • Think first-party first - Marketers who focus their attentions on their own data will be far better positioned to deal with the fall out of third-party cookie extinction. Many brands are collecting first-party data, but few brands currently know how to use this data effectively. First-party data is given if there is a value exchange, so work on turning experiences into something that will enrich your customer’s lives.
  • Context is king – Publishers are already developing better ways to commercialise their visitors in other ways using their first-party data together with smart algorithms for predicting behaviours and interests, and offering this to advertisers. This offers you greater opportunities with contextual advertising, with better advertiser sponsored content formats and more sophisticated cross media measurement.
  • Creative dominance - Advertising effectiveness will depend on great cut-through creative that gets attention, rather than relying on hyper-targeting from third-party data. Targeting your customers early in their journey, with the right message that will resonate with them will be key, providing an opportunity to change behavior rather than just accelerate it.
  • Cross device tracking - Cookies have never been a perfect tool for powering the AdTech world, cookies are particularly bad in a world of cross-device shopping. Every major publisher has been working on a combination of publisher first-party data, signed on users, and standardised universal IDs. A future without third-party cookies will lead to better transparency and attribution for the industry, as well as better privacy control for consumers.
  • New players – There will be a lot more collaboration across all players in the ecosystem over the next two years. Last year the giants of news publishing came together and formed The Ozone Project. The opportunity for access to enormous amounts of first-party data here is incredible and hopefully we’ll see more brands and agencies get onboard, not to mention other challengers in the market.