January 5, 2024 | 4 min read
Comprised of media practitioners, retail strategists, and senior business leaders, the PMG Insights Team creates compelling thought leadership, spearheads proprietary consumer research, and drafts editorial content on the current and future state of the advertising, media, and technology industries.
This week marked the beginning of the end for third-party cookies on Google Chrome as the web browser began the gradual process of phasing out cookies, finalizing the transformation of digital advertising from cookie-based to cookieless. It's the first step towards enabling and broadly testing Google’s Privacy Sandbox, which aims to create technologies that both protect people's privacy online and give companies and developers tools to build thriving digital businesses.
The initial phase-out applies to just one percent of Google Chrome users to facilitate testing, with the broader phase-out slated for Q3 2024, which will affect all of Chrome’s more than three billion global users.
Catch-up Quick: Google Privacy Sandbox aims to reduce cross-site tracking while still enabling the functionality that keeps online content and services freely accessible to everyone on the internet. Deprecating and removing third-party cookies encapsulates a unique challenge for the industry, as cookies enable critical functionality across sign-in, fraud protection, advertising, and generally, the ability to embed rich, third-party content on websites—but at the same time, they're also the key enablers of cross-site tracking.
With the initial phase-out affecting only 1% of cookies disabled in Google Chrome as of January 4, we don't expect to see an immediate impact on programs. For context, Chrome owns about half of the U.S. browser market share.
Similar to the effects of Apple’s implementation of App Tracking Transparency controls within iOS 14, with continued industry-wide cookie deprecation, we expect to see a potential impact on addressable audience sizes over time, and continued challenges with media attribution. However, this is a great signal forward to ensure privacy-first strategies are in place, audited, and actioned upon.
As an organization, PMG continues to conduct thorough audits of all programs that are reliant on third-party cookies, developing a risk assessment framework as well as a testing framework to ensure our programs are future-proofed. We’ve been working closely with our partners to prepare for these changes as recent months have seen more brands supercharge their testing roadmaps and adopt durable measurement capabilities.
Our team will continue to provide the latest insights, guidance, and strategic recommendations for navigating cookie deprecation and privacy-related industry changes as more information becomes available.
The rollout and timeline for many privacy-related changes are dependent on a variety of advisory, compliance, and regulatory factors and are subject to change. Our work will continue to build upon future-proofing strategies while charting a clear path forward to the end of the year when we'll see even more significant deprecation.
“Industry-wide cookie deprecation requires advertisers to prioritize first-party data, privacy-first approaches, and diversified marketing strategies.”
While the news of this change made headlines this week, the march towards a more privacy-focused future has been years in the making. Countless industry consortiums, privacy advocacy groups, and alternative identity methods have cropped up to aid advertisers in navigating these changes.
Industry-wide cookie deprecation requires advertisers to strategically shift approaches and strengthen their direct engagement with consumers. This involves continuing to prioritize the collection of first-party data, adopting a stance that’s privacy-first, and diversifying marketing efforts across various channels.
Advanced technologies, such as Customer Data Platforms, can aid in data management and strengthen existing programs by analyzing trends and patterns from first-party data, ultimately helping to deliver a more targeted and personalized experience for each user. Scalable identity-based solutions such as LiveRamp’s Ramp ID or The Trade Desk’s Unified ID 2.0 can also be used as alternatives to cookies to reach first-party audiences.
This moment represents a new era in advertising and can’t be circumvented by a temporary adjustment in tactics or activating cross-platform features. Instead, advertisers must recalibrate now, if they haven’t already, to adopt a more comprehensive and sustainable, privacy-first approach, investing in durable media targeting and attribution solutions that combat signal loss, maintain regulatory compliance, and meet your brand’s unique measurement needs.
For more insight into how brands can best navigate these changes and prepare for the privacy-first future of advertising, check out our latest thought leadership on consumer privacy and measurement strategies:
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