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BizReport : Advertising : January 16, 2020

Google says 'bye to 3rd party cookies, what do experts say?

Google has announced plans to phase out its support of third party cookies over the next two years in its Chrome browser. Third party cookies are used to track consumers as they surf the web, giving insight into certain behaviors for advertisers and brands. Just what might the impact of Google's move be to the digital space? We asked a few digital experts for their input.

by Kristina Knight

"This was somewhat of an inevitable outcome, and I think most people were already expecting this to happen at some point. All the efforts from all the browser vendors over the past years has been to restrict cookies and user tracking in ever-increasing degree. Whether it's browser companies or regulators, new changes in data privacy are downscaling third-party cookie tracking and collection," said Tanzil Bukhari, Managing Director, EMEA, DoubleVerify. "[This will] shift the industry from user-level targeting -- which will become harder and harder as user tracking gets locked down by browsers -- towards contextual targeting. Rather than showing you a Nike ad because you were shopping for shoes two hours ago, you'll get a Nike ad because you're reading about the Olympics. Contextual targeting is a return to traditional online ad campaigns, where reaching a consumer meant showing up on the right article or piece of content. With that said, modern contextual targeting is more data-driven and bleeding edge. It incorporates new technologies like AI and semantic science to ensure ads run on the right website and the right page, targeting the right audience. In a way, it's very similar to brand suitability and brand safety targeting."

Google's announcement that they're looking at doing away with third party cookies shouldn't come as a surprise to brands or marketers, but their time-frame might. That's because the company has been pushing consumer privacy and a 'privacy sandbox' for a while now. But, until the week, the privacy sandbox didn't have a time frame. The announcement that they could be doing away with third party cookies within two years may put a different spin on their initiatives going forward.

"The real question is whether Google's actions will speak louder than its words, namely all good actors being given equal opportunity to leverage this tech similarly without undue advantage given to Google in the process," said Adam Solomon, CMO, Lotame. "As an independent data solutions provider, we want to work with everyone, and we do work with everyone. As long as Google is committed to open collaboration, we're more than happy to participate and help our marketer, brand, and agency clients navigate this path. Over the last 13 years, we've had a front row seat to and participated in seismic changes to how data is collected, connected, and permissioned across devices and platforms. We've adjusted at every turn and enabled new data-driven capabilities on behalf of our clients. This situation is no different."

It also raises the question of fairness and the ability for all brands - no matter the size - to have an even, digital, playing field. But, if done right, some say Google's move could provide that even playing field.

"There have been a lot of misguided attempts at privacy reform.  This could be good for both Google and the industry at large.  If Google is able to create the right standards and get other browsers on board with their initiative and to follow suit, Google could cement itself as the source of truth and the standard for identity solutions while potentially increasing CPMs for publishers in other browsers. Furthermore, the (two year) timeframe is something that was greatly needed by everyone in the industry -- we've all been left guessing with an open-ended timeline, up until this point. We all now have the same timeframe to work against to put our heads together and determine how to implement an efficient solution," said Kurt Donnell, President, Freestar. "Overall, this initiative seems to strike a good balance between providing a level of targeting that advertisers need while giving consumers the heightened degree of privacy that they are pushing for albeit with Google seeing significant potential upside."

Tags: advertising, advertising cookies, DoubleVerify, Freestar, Google, Google privacy sandbox, Lotame, third party cookies

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