The elimination of third-party cookies is absolutely one of the most discussed topics in digital marketing in the past year. Google continues to make headlines and marketers are trying to stay up-to-date with news related to new cookie policies and other data privacy moves that could impact the digital advertising scene.
What do third-party cookies do?
You’ve probably experienced the effects of Google ad personalization many times when ads start popping up everywhere for a type of product you’ve been researching. That’s because if you’ve visited lots of websites and blogs about a certain type of content, cameras and photography for instance, advertisers make the connection that you’re interested in photography with buying intent for cameras. They will show you ads for different cameras and related products. That was the result of placing third-party cookies on your devices.
Not like first-party cookies which are generated by the website that you are visiting and are basically only used by this website, third-party cookies (also known as tracking cookies) are generated by a website the user is not visiting. Some examples include Google Analytics and AdSense. They can record that user’s online activities as he/she browses across multiple sites and are commonly used as ways to compile long-term records of individuals’ browsing histories. These data are very often used by advertisers in an effort to serve relevant advertisements to each user.
However, there have been rising concerns in privacy among internet users who worry that malicious use of the third-party cookie can cause damage to the user’s privacy by unethical practices like cross-site scripting and misuse of personal data. Most modern web browsers contain privacy settings that can block third-party cookies, and some have already blocked all third-party cookies by default. Such browsers include Apple Safari, Firefox, and Brave. Google Chrome, the leading internet browser with a global market share of over 60%, plans to start blocking third-party cookies by default in 2022.
The timeline and new updates on Google’s actions
In August 2019, Google announced the plan to implement Privacy Sandbox, a new initiative to develop a set of open standards to fundamentally enhance privacy on the web. Some ideas included new approaches to ensure that ads continue to be relevant for users, but user data shared with websites and advertisers would be minimized by anonymously aggregating user information, and keeping much more user information on-device only. The aim of the Privacy Sandbox was to keep the efficiency of ad delivery intact (targeting, conversion, attribution, reporting etc.) without the use of third-party cookies in Chrome.
In January 2020, Google officially announced their plan to remove the third-party cookie in two years, though a definitive date had not been set. Although Firefox and Safari had already phased out the third-party cookie by the summer of 2020, Google’s post said that its changes would happen over the course of 2 years as they worked with advertisers to ensure that this pivot would not destroy the online advertising business.
In March 2020, we published a detailed article titled “Buying Multicultural Media in the Cookie-less Future of Online Advertising” talking about the issue and its impacts on Programmatic Advertisingt
Let’s walk through some updates from the past year:
In September 2020, Google rolled out changes in Chrome to mitigate deceptive and intrusive tracking techniques, such as fingerprinting. Since the beginning of the year, Google and other parties had been working on proposals for several new APIs to address issues like fraud protection, ad selection, and conversion measurement without allowing users’ activity to be tracked across websites. Following web community input, many of these solutions were put into experimental testing including Click Conversion Measurement API, Trust Tokens …etc.
In January 2021, Google updated in their blog that early testing of the Federated Learning of Cohorts (FloC) algorithm showed that new privacy-preserving ad solutions could be similarly effective to cookie-based approaches. FLoC proposed a new way to reach people with relevant content and ads by clustering large groups of people with similar browsing patterns, hiding individuals “in the crowd” and keeping their web history on their browser.
In March 2021, Google triggered tremendous controversy on the topic again when they announced that they won’t be building alternate identifiers to track individuals as they browse across the web, nor would Google use them in its products.
“We realize this means other providers may offer a level of user identity for ad tracking across the web that we will not — like PII graphs based on people’s email addresses. We don’t believe these solutions will meet rising consumer expectations for privacy, nor will they stand up to rapidly evolving regulatory restrictions, and therefore aren’t a sustainable long-term investment,” David Temkin, Google’s Director of Product Management, Ads Privacy and Trust said.
The marketer should bear in mind that, ultimately, first-party data on all browsers will still remain intact and will become the key for ad targeting after the third-party cookie is gone. As David Temkin said in the same post: “First-party relationships are vital.”
First-party data and contextual targeting will play more important roles
“Google’s announcement was a wake-up call for marketers to break their dependence on third-party data and instead turn to review the data strategies.” Gregg Johnson, CEO of Invoca, the active conversation intelligence platform, commented.
“It wasn’t because third-party data was the most effective way to reach their target customers,” he said. “It was because that data was just so easy for them to access and execute short-term campaigns.”
“First-party datasets are richer and more impactful when it comes to improving campaign performance. They also strengthen trust between the customer and the business.” Johnson concluded.
So, the next move for publishers should be to build their first-party database. By doing so, publishers will be less dependent on the third-party data and therefore the losses (if any) would be mitigated. In fact, first-party data from publishers are increasingly valuable, and among the narrowing selection of permissible and actionable sources for ad targeting.
Contextual targeting will also become more important than behavioral targeting when no third-party cookie tracking is available. With contextual targeting, the ads you see are based on the content you are looking at instead of your overall behavior profile. So, when you are looking at a photography blog, you see ads for cameras.
How Eastward Media’s strategies to target chinese audience remain unaffected?
As internet browsers and government regulations force away from the third-party cookie, most programmatic advertising companies will have a reduced ability to track audiences and execute targeted ad campaigns. However, Eastward Media’s solutions in helping agency partners and brands reach Chinese Audience in North America will not be affected.
We managed a unique Chinese programmatic ad platform that targets Chinese consumers in North America through private exchange inventories on popular China-based publishers and SSPs. Our guaranteed Chinese programmatic offerings utilize quality first-party audience data from leading DMPs like Baidu, Alibaba &Tencent to drive powerful campaign targeting and highly contextual or relevant ad placements.
Chinese consumers in North America can spend up to 85% of their online time using China-based websites, mobile apps and streaming platforms. However, these platforms are disconnected from the general open exchange advertising network in North America due to the internet policies from China. At Eastward we’re able to tap into the inventory of these Chinese walled gardens for advertisers.
On top of that, the way we target the Chinese Audience is a Deterministic Approach!
To find out more about our Deterministic Approach and how it stands out from the Probabilistic Model that general DSP is using, email us today at email@example.com We are more than pleased to arrange a discussion and provide related information.
Interested in learning more? Connect with us today.