Identity Crisis: Regulation, the end of cookies, and what modern marketing can do to save itself
On January 14th, Google announced that they will be ending support for third-party cookies, via the Chrome browser, within two years.
Cookies are text files which are installed on a user's computer when they visit websites. Ending support for them will mean that only cookies set by the owner of that website—and associated with their domain (e.g. www.essenceglobal.com)—will be allowed (these are known as first-party cookies).
Although there are many important parts of the commercial web where third-party cookies cannot be used today (e.g. Facebook, YouTube, all mobile apps), they still play an important role in understanding user behavior across the open internet, and measuring the effects of advertising across it.
Because Chrome’s global market share in the browser category is over 60%, ending support for third-party cookies will impact (among other things):
Multi-touch attribution (MTA) – Models will no longer be able to count many of the impressions served in the path to conversion
DMPs – These will be limited in their ability to derive audience segments from site visits
Third-party data providers – The ability to create audience segments based on browsing behavior and content consumption will be limited
View-through conversion tracking – Third-party trackers placed by advertisers on their website will not be able to match conversions back to where ads were shown
Instead, approaches to measuring Chrome users will need to be rebuilt around Privacy Sandbox, a series of cookie-busting projects designed to ‘create a thriving web ecosystem that is respectful of users and private by default,’ and seen as insight into Google’s long term vision for how user data is collected and used for advertising purposes.
While this is a turning point for our industry, the announcement can also be seen as the latest in a long line of shifts (e.g. GDPR, ITP) that herald a change in the way marketing needs to be done in the 2020s.
This change can be encapsulated by a set of five principles:
Think Big(ger Data Models)
Revamp (& Radicalize) Research
The Power of Partnership
Augment the Ad Stack
We believe that adopting these principles now will help marketers, their agencies, and partners chart a course toward that outcome in a way that can be simultaneously more sophisticated, more imaginative, and more ethical in its use of data all at the same time.