By postponing the deprecation of third-party cookies, Google just did everyone a big favor. You may have sighed relief, but don’t get too comfortable.
Few advertisers were truly ready for a cookieless web. Like a math test in school, where almost no one is really ready, moving the deprecation of cookies to mid-2023 has been met with an industry-wide sign of relief.
Unfortunately, like with the postponed test, this has been followed but the same response we all often had in school; a belief that there is now extra time to waste.
But this is a decade-level change. There isn’t actually extra time: now there is enough time.
Third-party Data Prevalence Requires a Tectonic Shift Toward a First-party Future
Third-party data is everywhere. Over the past decade, it has become the go-to answer for many (most) advertising solutions and you’re probably using more of it than you think.
For Google’s part, they are planning to use the extra time to coordinate further with the industry and to allow for more time for adoption and testing. This is good news. Instead of rushing into solutions, organizations can take the time to really process and integrate needed changes before the cookie goes away.
Google’s FLoC and FLEDGE and other non-Google technical solutions such as The Trade Desk’s Unified ID 2.0 all need to be understood and weighed, but these tools are only one part of a much larger shift that’s needed to truly succeed in a cookieless world.
If You Want People to Share Their Data, Learn How to Use it Properly First
This larger change is that advertisers need to be focused on first-party data. Getting it through consent. Growing it through added value. Protecting it through access limitations and PII best practices. Using it to effectively and responsibly reach out.
Let’s repeat this point because it’s often said but then overlooked in favor of technical solutions that are easier to jump into and that many, incorrectly, hope will somehow roll back the clock. You want users to want to share their data and you need to properly use this first-party data.
In a cookieless, privacy-centric future, you need to focus on first-party data. This is not a roadblock to doing business, it is a new way of doing business. Advertisers who embrace the cookieless, privacy-first ecosystem will be fully adapted to it and will succeed. While you should use available data to test new approaches until the change, those who keep trying to recreate pre-privacy business practices will be disadvantaged in the long term.
Steps for Success in a First-party Data-centric World
This might sound great, but focusing on first-party data is a broad statement that can easily leave you asking what exactly does that mean we should do?
There are 6 steps to making sure your organization is able not only to function in a cookieless internet but to thrive.
Step 1: Conduct an audit to understand your use of and exposure to third-party data. If you don’t know where you are, it will be difficult to adapt to a changing industry.
Step 2: Level up on your collection and use of first-party data. What value do you offer your customers to drive them to want a relationship with your business? When you have this data, are you applying advanced segments to drive value and tailored outreach? Your brand may already be considering this, if not, work with content experts to drive a new value exchange focus within your customer interactions and brand as a whole.
Step 3: Expand your on-site testing. Many organizations do this as an afterthought, but experiences that resonate are expected by users. Incremental gains here can be huge over time. Remember, a 10% improvement to conversion can be better than a 10% increase in traffic because the traffic can require media spending. Build or grow this ability and test, test, test.
Step 4: Test and integrate the new post-cookie ad tech solutions. Know your options, how they work, and how you can best use them to achieve your specific goals.
Step 5: Implement ‘Privacy-Era’ measurement. MMM and other probabilistic tools can be key to understanding the ROI on specific efforts in a cookieless future.
Step 6: Integrate your teams. A cookieless future is not a stand-alone event, it is the result of a trend toward a privacy-first mindset that includes compliance, public expectations, and technical changes to AdTech. You need your compliance, analytics, data, engineering, marketing, and advertising teams to be talking to one another and in alignment.
2023 might seem like a long way off, but each of these steps can take time. Just remember, with Google’s delay of a cookieless world, you might have enough time, but you don’t have extra time, be sure to use it wisely.
No Legal Advice Intended. I am not a lawyer and the information provided in this article is provided for informational purposes only and should not be construed as legal advice on any subject matter. You should not act or refrain from acting on the basis of content included in this article without seeking legal or other professional advice.