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Cookie-less future: You still have (some) time to prepare

What do all marketers have in common in 2021? The apprehension of the cookie-less future and its impact.

January 31, 2022

What do all marketers have in common in 2021?

The apprehension of the cookie-less future and its impact. While everyone thought that this initiative was supposed to happen at the end of 2022, the latest release by Google says otherwise. It seems that Google will postpone it for another 1,5 years and that gives you some time to follow the updates and prepare for the next step.

The developments so far

Already in 2017 Safari introduced its first version of ITP as a solution to the block of third-party cookies. After the release of ITP 2.0, third-party cookies have been completely blocked – an act that mainly affected ad profile building, retargeting, and conversion tracking by ad networks.

Alternatives to third-party tracking based on first-party cookies have been developed by a number of ad networks with the aim of still tracking visitors across different websites. Consequently, big players such as Google and Facebook were still able to perform conversion tracking in Safari and fully measure the effectiveness of ad campaigns.

In 2020, Google decided to join Safari in blocking cookies on its Chrome web browser. Their approach was divided into various phases with the ultimate goal of blocking third-party cookies within two years. For this purpose, Google proposed new technologies that do not shake the revenue engine of websites, but are less invasive to the personal data of users. As a first step, Google introduced Privacy Sandbox to replace the different functions of the third-party cookies with privacy-safe alternatives. In this way, businesses could use interest-based advertising (FLoC) and still reach people with relevant content and ads by clustering large groups of people with similar interests. Their analysis showed that advertisers could expect at least 95% of the conversions per dollar spent, compared to cookie-based advertising.

The Privacy Sandbox also includes proposals for how marketers can create and deploy their own audiences, without the use of third-party cookies. One such example is retargeting users. For this purpose Chrome published a new proposal, named FLEDGE. Simply put, FLEDGE consists of a 5-step process where either browsers, sellers, or buyers take measures:

  • Browsers record interest groups.
  • Sellers run on-device auctions.
  • Buyers provide ads and bidding functions.
  • Browsers render the winning ad.
  • Event-level reporting for both the winning buyer and the seller.

Another Sandbox proposal has to do with ad fraud prevention. Chrome tested Trust Tokens as a new API to help combat fraud and identify bots from real humans. The Trust Token API enables the web to distinguish a real user from  a malicious third-party impersonating a person or service for fraud purposes.

Finally, when it comes to measurement, Google also tested new ways to estimate the performance of campaigns.  These efforts protect personal data while supporting key advertiser requirements. For instance, event-level reporting that enables bidding models to recognize patterns in the data, and aggregate-level reporting that delivers accurate measurement over groups of users.

Why are we not there yet?

Cookie-less future is an ever-changing field. While everyone is waiting for the final ban of third-party cookies and preparing for a new reality, all new changes are not finalised. The progress on Privacy Sandbox is slower than expected – especially in Europe due to GDPR concerns. FLoC could not be tested in Europe as the EU is concerned about which entity will serve as a control group and which will serve as the data processor in the creation of these similar user groups.

Furthermore, Google announced that more time is needed to fully develop these alternatives so that users can enjoy a safe, free web, while advertisers still generate revenue from their marketing effort. And this is when all marketers will say goodbye to third-party cookies once and for all! However, there is one vital thing that ALL marketers should pay attention to; start preparing before the day everything has changed.

Right now is the best time to create your tomorrow
In an era without cookies, the advertising industry is in need of an independent and sophisticated software to create an accurate and holistic overview of their media effectiveness throughout the entire user journey. However, actions like these require a different culture towards marketing performance and how data can be leveraged to make meaningful strategic decisions. Our Holistic Marketing Model (HMM) is designed to cover all these needs and provide you with accurate insights on your marketing efforts for both on- and off-line media. That way, you can increase your ROI and have solid proof of the effectiveness of your marketing activities throughout the user journey and channels.

Want to know more about the cookie-less future? Read our paper on the most frequently asked questions marketers have on this topic and how to tackle them.

Download Whitepaper