In late June, Google announced that their plan to deprecate third-party cookies by Q2 2022 will be delayed. The estimated timeline for Chrome to phase out support for third-party cookies will be starting in late-2022 with a testing stage. This stage is expected to last for 9 months for publishers and the advertising industry to migrate their services, test, and adopt Privacy sandbox capabilities. Moving to stage two, Chrome will officially phase out the support over a 3-month period starting mid-2023. So, what does this mean for advertisers? Are we able to catch a breather from this delay?
The delay seems to offer some breathing room for brands, publishers, and agencies while the advertising industry has been in overdrive by innovating and implementing possible alternatives and strategies. We should not miss the regulatory implication of Google’s message, which once again reminds the industry of the inevitability of an anti-trust and privacy-safe future, primarily pushed forwards by the regulators. The updated timeline also reserves an evaluation period for the UK’s Competition and Markets Authority (CMA), in line with Google’s commitments. We have also witnessed the increasingly stricter interpretations of EU’s GDPR.
Device-wise, a noticeable and disruptive move in privacy is again seen in the recent Apple WWDC 2021, which may potentially limit the effectiveness of alternative identifiers for advertising. Not to mention, third-party cookies tracking is blocked from iPhone by default and the recent depreciation of IDFA.
The industry should not be deterred by this extended timeline.
In addition to Google’s Privacy Sandbox initiative, the industry has been working on a number of different approaches.
Third-party cookies can be considered “more deterministic” in the data tracking spectrum as privacy standards become stricter. Some agencies, trading desks, and publishers are building a replacement of cookies, aiming to provide greater transparency and control for users while replicating the tracking capability of cookies as universal identifiers.
Brands are also intensifying consumers to sign up for memberships to accelerate the transformation to a user-level (traditionally deterministic) data strategies, especially for businesses with limited accessibility to its consumer data. However, the challenge remains to be connectivity across the platforms and identifiers, and naturally will include the limit of stability.
Publishers have great potential in bridging the gap as many are already leveraging first party IDs or other identifiers. Let’s have a look at SCMP…this leading publisher in the Hong Kong market has made a massive shift in their partnership and monetization strategies with their subscriber and first-party data advantage. The potential in media and data partnerships are expected with media and data owners that own strong first-party user data, such as carrier networks and popular apps with user-level logins.
The extended timeline is a gift of time for the demand-side, supply-side, and ad-tech partners to build a holistic ecosystem powered by inter-connectivity and scalability; for brands to build better data and targeting strategies.