The demise of third-party cookies has shaken up the entire ad tech world, as marketers face the dual challenge of finding alternatives to enable identification and manage privacy-compliant effectively.
The end of third-party cookies has become a reality check for marketers, and as the martech and adtech players move to adopt this change, there will be a range of new and more advanced tools for identification. What alternatives are emerging and how to handle them for protecting user privacy and providing addressability, remains the biggest question.
Meaningful consent should be at the center of every industry and sector. Still, the majority of consumers said they are concerned by internet cookies tracking their activity online for use in marketing or selling data to third parties.
The demise of cookies kicked into overdrive when Google announced third-party cookies as obsolete in its Chrome Web browser within two years, in 2019. It’s part of a much wider push for better user privacy protections, urged by EU requirements like GDPR and CCPA.
Google aims to offer users extended control over their own privacy while enabling publishers to generate revenue and brands to target consumers.
No longer limited to mere “fit for purpose” approach, the search giant views third-party cookie blockers as a blunt and direct instrument to more invasive tracking, like a fingerprint. Google noticed the writing on the wall for all cookies to increase the adoption of cookie-blocking tools. This would enhance the power for users to clear cookies in just a few clicks, given the rise in privacy needs and standards followed by a harder push back against online tracking.
Google’s cookie crumbling came six months post its ‘Privacy Sandbox’ plans for Chrome. This ultimately aims to strike the right balance between user rights to privacy and advertising revenue. Instead of relying on individually identified information, an interface of API in the browser allows access to centrally possessed data, when Chrome verifies that it will be used anonymously.
With third-party cookies arguably being the lifeblood of advertising and marketing in targeting and tracking Internet users for ads and programmatic advertising, such decisions have put the industry on notice that “it’s time to modify their age-old practices.” It also requires new adtech and martech solutions. And this raises concerns about Google’s dominance over the digital ad space, with the move to disable cookies, which serve to strengthen the walled garden.
Gartner recommended marketers to identify existing dependencies on invasive adtech to develop a new digital marketing strategy. This was aimed to preserve the overall user privacy through a structured transition to alternative adtech solutions. The ultimate goal is to have capabilities that are privacy-risk-aware and comparatively less reliant on detailed identifiable data and more on specific persona-based insight.
Balancing privacy and personalization is the need of the hour. It’s evident that the use of third-party cookies hasn’t always been in the best interests of the users and their privacy concerns.
The increased focus on privacy concerns has turned out to be a welcome change. But these technologies, though designed to enhance the user experience, have been continuously abused by the industry to the extent that the user experience has been noticeably degraded.
So alongside prioritizing user privacy and providing an enhanced user experience, the shift away from cookies might seem like an upheaval now, but it would be an opportunity for the future.
While monitoring an individual’s actions and interests can provide insights, marketers should increasingly focus on the behavior of selected populations, and the development of recent technologies to generate and process this data into a useable form.