Does Google’s delay mean advertisers should change plans?

Google’s announcement that it was delaying the demise of third-party cookies wasn’t hugely out of left-field. It’s the third time Google has delayed a decision on cookies, since their original announcement to phase them out. It comes on the back of The European Commission opening a formal antitrust investigation into the company and the Competition and Markets Authority (CMA) in the UK investigating the changes to ‘Privacy Sandbox’ as being uncompetitive. Cynics may point out that it is a difficult time to justify flipping their whole advertising model on its head, when proposed alternatives simply weren’t working.  

The announcement was broadly welcomed by digital marketers and advertisers, who now have more time to test alternative strategies and technologies that don’t use cookies or identifiers. 

Cookies are still going. Advertisers need a strategy beyond Google

While we’re not advocating advertisers change successful tactics, we are suggesting caution. This is a delay to an inevitable outcome. Cookies are still going. Google is currently the dominant player in the market with Chrome accounting for 65% of browsers, but advertisers can’t ignore the 35% that don’t use cookies. A recent study shows that only a quarter of Apple iOS 14 users have allowed application tracking when prompted to do so. That’s a huge 76% of Apple users that can’t be targeted using individual identifiers. 

Different tactics without using cookies or personal information are needed by advertisers to target people who block tracking. We’ve been working with our client base on testing cookie-less solutions for the best part of 24 months now. Due to our relationship with Skyrise Intelligence we’ve been able to demonstrate to advertisers that broader cookieless strategies are effective in targeting audiences using aggregated telco data. They’re able to segment buyers who are most likely to purchase from those who aren’t, just without relying on identifiers.

For advertisers looking to maximise reach the delay does not change anything

Progressive brands and marketers will almost certainly move forward with plans regardless of the extension. It makes little sense to wait and be in the same situation in two years. Custom audiences built on aggregated statistical analysis patterns offer a future-proof solution to innovation led advertisers. 

Waiting to see what Google comes up with next would be a high risk strategy, and one that will only partly address the market. With such a large part of the web now not using third-party cookies, a privacy first web is still happening. It is what users want, regardless of what Google does. For advertisers looking to maximise reach the delay does not change much at all.

There is also a financial benefit presented from cookieless targeting. Bid requests for cookieless inventory offer value for money, now that ‘old school’ tactics have received a stay of execution. SMEs and Google’s long-tail client base in particular are inevitably bidding on the 75-80% of addressable individual targeting level, making it hugely competitive. The 20-25% not coming from third-party cookies offer great value for programmatic brand and reach campaigns. Our advertisers have been seeing fantastic results in this space, all while putting privacy at the forefront of their strategy and providing a great consumer experience.

There is no longer a single approach to identity

Typically, we work with our advertisers to recognise that there is no longer a single approach to identity. Cookieless data is available now to activate against. It comes from innovative data specialists such as Skyrise and it is aggregated and contextual, rather than individual. 

While we’re not moving forward without acknowledging the delay, we are acknowledging it’s only a delay. 

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