What Google’s new delay to the end of cookies means for marketers

Credit: Nathan Dumlao via Unsplash

Reports on the death of the cookie have been greatly exaggerated.

Google has again delayed its plan to get rid of third-party cookies, those bits of code that track visitors online, helping to finely target advertising.

The digital giant is now looking at mid 2024, extended from mid 2023 which was also pushed out from the original plan 2022.

Anthony Chavez, Google’s vice president of Privacy Sandbox, in a blog post: “The most consistent feedback we’ve received is the need for more time to evaluate and test the new Privacy Sandbox technologies before deprecating third-party cookies in Chrome.”

The Sandbox is designed to find alternatives to cookies, balancing consumer privacy against personalization in advertising.

Dan Richardson, head of data APAC at Yahoo, says the Google announcement underscores the pressure from regulators to bring transparency to the forefront.

“The reality is, third-party cookies as an identifier aren’t just going to be switched off overnight, it will be a phased-out approach.

“So for marketers, the most important thing to note from this latest announcement, is that you now have more time to get your house in order before the phasing out begins.

“It’s time to really understand the make-up of your audiences – what percentage are addressable (known) versus non-addressable (unknown), what sort of browsers and operating systems can you find them on, and how much first-party data can you activate in the cookieless world?

“In a market like Australia, unknown audiences are in majority, which simply means for marketers that your ability to target and measure effectiveness may soon be heavily impacted. Direct-to-consumer identity should be your number one priority when looking for solutions as then you can use tactics such as contextual targeting and machine learning to understand and reach the unknown majority.”

Sarla Fernando, head of regulatory & advocacy advisory at ADMA (Association for Data-Driven Marketing and Advertising), says businesses have more time to adapt and change their marketing strategies.

“However, it is important that businesses do not delay taking the necessary actions to prepare for a cookie-less future,” says Fernando.

“Many businesses have already started to build their first-party data, which will give them a competitive advantage over those who wait for Google’s announcement dates.

“As an industry, we need to get prepared for the future, regardless of what it holds. It is impractical to base our timelines on the unknown; expecting dates that are subject to change. We know what needs to be done, and what best practice looks like, so let’s just get on with it.”

Ayal Steiner, Vice President, Global VP Advertising, Outbrain: “As we can see, many advertisers are still using cookie-based audience buying in order to reach their target audiences. Google’s decision to give them more time to adjust is a good move, in our opinion.

“As the world moves towards regulations like GDPR (The General Data Protection Regulation) and enhanced user privacy on Safari, Outbrain believes that advertising without cookies will become an inevitable reality. Brands need to learn how to advertise in a cookieless world in order to remain relevant.

“Marketers need to shift their focus from traditional open web strategies to ones that emphasize real engagement and attention metrics. This means going beyond impression buying and views or reach. Instead, advertisers should concentrate on messages that create meaningful interactions.

“We believe that marketers should carefully consider their platform partners and focus on those that can deliver results without cookies. In addition, we believe that the open web advertising business model needs to evolve beyond CPM (cost-per-thousand impressions) in order to better match results and outcome-based buying. Paying simply to appear is no longer good enough.”

Melanie Hoptman, COO Asia Pacific at LiveRamp: “Today’s announcement by Google may be an indication that Google feels not enough companies have started their transition to cookieless alternatives.

Regardless of the timeline Google has set – 45%+ of the internet is already cookieless, mobile in-app is cookieless, and CTV is cookieless.

“The time is now for publishers and marketers to control their destiny and transition away from cookie-based identity to people-based identity Given the current economic uncertainty, it is especially important to optimize the impact of every marketing and advertising dollar.

“Marketers should be asking themselves if their investments are addressable, accountable and measurable. Those who are making progress on their cookieless futures and negotiating based on business outcomes, rather than traditional reach and awareness metrics, can ensure media dollars are working harder than ever before.”

Arnold Djapri, performance director, Impressive Digital: “Google’s recent announcement to delay the blocking of third-party cookies has been a relief to many businesses and organizations who were scrambling to make the necessary changes.

“As Google delays the block, there is currently no challenge posed to cookie implementation. And, with nothing lost until 2024, this big pushback provides some much-needed breathing room.”

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