Earlier this week, on January 14, 2020, Google made two announcements related to their Chrome browser:
Google confirmed that the new February 4th release of Chrome (Version 80) will not recognize cookies that do not self-classify as either “same site” or “cross site” — following a May 2019 announcement to require web developers to self-categorize their cookies as “same site” (i.e. 1P) or “cross site” (i.e. 3P). This change will not block the marketing ecosystem from using 3P cookies, so long as those cookies comply with Chrome classification and security requirements. Since Google’s May 2019 announcement, most of the ad tech ecosystem has already adapted to this requirement. As such, it is expected that there will be no immediate impact to the ecosystem.
Google announced their intention to provide an alternative technology to 3P cookies within two years to better serve the need for technology that more effectively respects consumer privacy while still supporting key marketing use cases. The announcement comes five months following Chrome’s public proposal to replace the role of 3P cookies through a series of common and open standards across browsers. Google is joined by Facebook, Microsoft, and Apple, who have all proposed new protocols for the sharing of browser information to replace the role of 3P cookies.
Google is providing the marketplace an advanced and collaborative timeline to mitigate what would otherwise have a significant impact on the ad tech ecosystem.
It is very important to note that while there will be no immediate changes to data and tech capabilities offered in the marketplace, vendors now have a deadline by which they need to find an alternative to the most common method of data collection through tags/pixels and cookies. The impact is most significant for DMPs (Adobe, Salesforce, Oracle, Neustar, etc…) and other ad tech vendors who rely on tags for their use cases (measurement, data collection, etc…).
Impacts to a post-cookie Marketplace
Growing pressure against 3P cookie tracking has resulted in new government regulation and Walled Garden policies that have impacted countless media companies and marketing technologies, which in turn, may result in negative ripple effects on marketers working with these companies.
Cookie-based audiences will become obsolete
Despite much industry talk about “people-based marketing”, many advertisers still use cookie-based audiences through programmatic targeting. Such data can be misleading – if not fraudulent – and is increasingly at risk of being non-compliant with regulatory privacy requirements. The announcement to deprecate 3P cookies will finally lead to the downfall of black-box cookie-based audiences.
1P data will become even more paramount to support marketing use cases
As 3P cookies go away, marketers who have built a strong 1P data asset (through a loyalty program or a direct to consumer relationship for example) will have an edge on their competition as this data will become central to their communication strategy.
CPMs will rise
A reduction in cookie-based audience targeting will drive increased demand for addressable activation. In parallel, publishers lacking addressable inventory will struggle to monetize their content. The result is reduced addressable supply and increased CPM’s.
Cross-platform measurement & attribution will directly be impacted
While 3P cookies were already increasingly poor trackers for the use of attribution, Google’s change in approach to 3P cookies will render them unreliable. A reliable approach to attribution will require unique integrations with Walled Gardens clean rooms (Google Ads Data Hub, Facebook Advanced Analytics and Amazon Marketing Cloud) to surface how cross-platform ad exposure drives conversion. These solutions are currently in beta but will become available to the marketplace over the next year.
Identity solutions will become central to marketing technology stacks
Moving from a cookie-based audience approach to a people-based approach requires a strong identity partner that does not rely on cookie matching for their identity graph. In the last few months, identity providers have started to build stronger partnerships with publishers to get access to authenticated user signals that will enable them to continue to identify users after cookies are gone. For brands, it will also be important to get access to data from their preferred publishers to continue to perform their measurement activities.