For years advertisers relied on cookies, small text files containing helpful information about users and their preferences, to serve personalized ads across the web.
Nowadays, in the name of improved consumer privacy, Internet giants like Google and Apple are announcing changes that will impact advertisers, publishers and consumers altogether.
The story of the “Cookie-less World” is evolving rapidly and cannot be ignored by brands and marketers. Here’s a quick look back on recent (and less recent) announcements to give you a better understanding of what’s going on in the digital world these days:
1. Google plans to phase out third-party cookies in Chrome
In January 2020, Google announced that it was phasing out third-party cookies in Chrome, within two years, in response to users’ privacy concerns and new legislations such as GDPR (Europe) and CCPA (California),.
The end of third-party cookies will cause some disruptions to digital advertising initiatives as advertisers won’t be allowed to track users across the Web and get a better understanding of their interests and behaviours. That being said, from a consumer privacy perspective, it’s a move in the right direction. Note that other browsers, like Safari and Firefox, eliminated tracking cookies a while ago.
2. Apple’s IOS 14 Update
Apple’s upcoming beta update, IOS 14, demands a higher level of transparency from apps:
– Each app’s product page on the App Store will contain information about the data types collected.
– Apps will need to ask users for their permission to track users across apps and websites owned by other companies, which is called the “App Tracking Transparency”. So, unless people opt-in, apps like Facebook and Instagram won’t be allowed to track them or access their device’s advertising identifier.
3. Facebook is “Speaking Up” about Apple’s Update.
Facebook issued statements warning advertisers that Apple’s new requirements will negatively impact businesses’ revenues. They need to take into consideration the impact this will have on their performance, attribution and conversion tracking.
4. New Tracking Methods From Tech Giants
Tech giants are trying to develop new tracking methods that wouldn’t require third-party cookies. For example, Trade Desk’s user-identity framework called Unified ID 2.0 could be a viable alternative. Their idea is to ask independent companies to come together and share data with others in a secure database.
5. Google’s “Privacy Sandbox” Initiatives and FLoC
In 2019, Google launched an initiative called Privacy Sandbox “to develop a set of open standards to fundamentally enhance privacy on the web”. In a nutshell, Google is testing new technologies that will render third-party cookies obsolete. In January 2021, Google shared the progress of their initiatives. One of their privacy-first alternatives to cookies is FloC (Federated Learning of Cohorts): the idea that groups of people with common interests could replace individual identifiers.
On January 22, Google launched 3 three new experiments related to user privacy (one being FLoC). As advertisers, we look forward to participating in this testing stage and witness preliminary results.
On March 23rd, 2021 AdExchanger reported that Google’s FloC initiatives won’t be tested in countries that fall under the GDPR as “FLoCs might not be compatible with European privacy law”. Later, a Google spokesperson said they will start the trial in the U.S. and make it available worldwide in the future. It’ll be interesting to see how that plays out.
The Digital Marketing World Is Changing
Apple, Google, Facebook and other tech companies are charting a new course for consumer security and privacy for the future. And, although recent changes will impact the way agencies and businesses advertise online, we should embrace this new world where privacy becomes a key driver to user experience.
We are keeping a close eye on the events mentioned above and we look forward to testing new tracking initiatives and seeing their impact on digital performance. Stay tuned for more.
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ABOUT THE AUTHOR
Marie-Joelle works at Bloom, a digital marketing agency, as the Marketing Manager. She's passionate about digital marketing tactics (from social media to web design) for B2B businesses looking to grow online.