As third-party cookies crumble, brands need an action plan

By now you should know that Google is taking a look at privacy online and in particular addressing the use of third-party cookies. The company’s plans for Chrome are still a couple of years off, but the impending changes will mean that those involved with advertising and marketing will need to make the necessary adjustments to their own strategy.

Much like POPIA this year and GDPR before it, those who fail to prepare in time could soon find themselves scrambling.

According to Mario de Lima, head of digital media at content strategy specialists +OneX, “The clock is therefore ticking for brands that have heavily relied on third-party cookies for advertising and marketing to come up with new strategies that centre on building and using first-party data to drive engagement.”

“For years, brands have relied on third-party cookies and mobile identifiers to deliver personalised ads to prospects and customers, and to track engagement with their audiences. However, rapid changes to the privacy landscape will soon demand that they find new ways to get tailored messages to their audiences,” he highlights.

Along with eliminating third-party cookies in 2023, Google has outlined what will replace the system, as de Lima explains:

  • “Interest-based advertising—reaching people with relevant content and ads by clustering large groups of people with similar interests (hiding personal data in crowds)
  • Audience creation
  • Conversion measurement
  • Ad fraud prevention
  • Anti-fingerprinting.”

“Advertisers will be able to use the APIs to receive aggregated data about conversion (how well their ads performed) and attribution (which entity is credited for a conversion). Such an approach will enable Google to anonymously aggregate user information to allow consumers to enjoy higher levels of privacy, while also letting advertisers deliver ads that are relevant to users’ interests and context without direct access to personalised data,” he adds.

As de Lima notes, there is still a lot to be determined, with Google working with regulators currently, meaning the precise roadmap for life post-2023 is unknown. That said, the head of digital media says that marketers have an opportunity on their hands. This as brands with a strong repository of first-party data will be better positioned to manage shifts in regulation and platform owners’ rules in the years to come.

“Wise usage of first-party data can help marketers to deliver tailored advertising in a manner that respects consumers’ privacy and drive better ROI from ads,” posits de Lima.

“To get it right, marketers should put solutions in place that let them collect and organise audience data from offline and online touchpoints to personalise digital experiences,” he adds.

As the lay of the land becomes a little clearer moving forward, he advises taking a few early steps now in order to be in the green come the official shift away from third-party cookies.

  • Use Google’s sitewide tagging to ensure that Google Ads can measure conversions more accurately across the Google family of products.
  • Align your Facebook advertising account with iOS14.5
  • Update your cookie consent policies
  • Adopt next-gen analytics designed for cookie-less tracking like Google Analytics 4.

The move from third-party cookies will indeed be a watershed moment for consumers and brands alike, but as de Lima enthuses, those advertisers and marketers that take the right steps now, can stand to benefit down the line.

“First-party data presents an opportunity for businesses to nurture closer relationships with customers. When done transparently and with care for and consent from the customer, using first-party data to create better experiences will encourage consumers to share more personal information because they believe their data is safe and will be used responsibly. Businesses can use access to these insights to strengthen customer and engagement relationships over time,” he concludes.

[Image – Photo by Vyshnavi Bisani on Unsplash]


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