Last month Google decided to delay its plan to block all third-party cookies in Chrome by a full two years as regulators and advertisers alike still had questions around the Privacy Sandbox that the company was building in its push for greater consumer privacy.
While the decision yielded mixed reactions, digital marketing firm Incubeta says companies should not be lulled into a false sense of security regarding the delay.
As the firm rightly points out, the delay will also factor in a six-month period where changes will be evaluated by the UK Competition and Markets Authority (CMA) and the British antitrust agency, in order to allay fears that the company’s step away from third-party cookies could be anti-competitive.
Time to start acting
“News of the delay will certainly be welcomed across the board, giving publishers, advertisers and agencies alike an opportunity to better understand Google’s privacy sandbox and adopt workarounds,” notes Jade Arenstein, head of data strategy and analytics at Incubeta.
“I think Google realised that the industry just wasn’t ready and advertisers weren’t ready to engage with the privacy sandbox just yet,” she adds.
Arenstein warns though that businesses should not be resting on their laurels not that the delay has been announced. Instead they should be hard at work given the sizeable amount of tasks that need to be completed in order to effectively handle the change when third-party cookies are indeed blocked.
In Incubeta’s view, it will be a company’s website that will bee to be looked at, tailored and used to cope with the change.
“Our advice has always been to build out websites so they are capable of tracking a similar level of data to what you are getting from third party cookies. And this delay has not changed that. The first-party data you are tracking may not be as broad as the prospecting audiences you had before, but it is still extremely useful and can be used to generate audiences to use across your marketing channels,” Arenstein points out.
“Companies should also be building forms to capture gender, age, interests – anything that they can, really. There is also a lot you can do with a solid content strategy on your website that will allow you to build interest based audiences based on the content that your users engage with. In fact, brands should be using their websites as data powerhouses irrespective of when Google makes their changes. You may not have the same reach, but you still have access to valuable information,” she advises.
A shift in strategy
Looking forward, Incubeta is also advising its client to focus on contextual data over demographic data, with their strategies needing to shift in order to meet this predicted need.
“Some clients who are currently building out micro-moment strategies across the full marketing funnel will depend on audience data and this may crash into Google’s move, even with the extended timelines. Brands will need to reconsider their reliance on Google audiences in the upper funnel and invest their efforts in first-party data strategies and the opportunities this will unlock across the funnel,” adds Johan Walters, lead tech consultant at Incubeta.
Potentially spurred on by POPIA compliance, which came into effect this week, local organisations are waiting to see what happens with regard to third-party cookies and have begun to take a proactive approach, according to Arenstein.
“We have prepared three proposals in the last two weeks from some of our biggest retailers who are looking for help to optimise their online and offline data. All of them have seen the importance of this work and are looking to build data lakes in an effort to use their offline data online,” she says.
While the proactiveness is good to see, the uncertainty that will no doubt be present over the next two years, it is clear that digital partners will need to work closely with Google throughout this process in order to make the transition as seamless as possible.
It is why Google has partnered with Incubeta to engage the industry with their privacy mini labs, aimed at tackling the complexities of the new privacy laws and the phasing out of cookies.
Hopefully then, the Privacy Sandbox will indeed work as intended and not be delayed once again.