The Impact of Google's Cookies Changes

Back in August 2019, Google Chrome first announced their plan to phase out the use of third-party cookies.  

These cookies are fragments of information that are shared between a browser and third-party server about a user’s activities and actions while online.  This information is then used to build profiles about users’ behaviours for ad performance management and future targeting. Given third-party cookies are being sent to potentially unknown entities they pose a greater privacy risk for individuals, and for this reason Google, and many other web browsers, have decided to phase them out – making a stand for consumer security.

Google came out last week and further elaborated on their initial announcement confirming that they will no longer allow identity-based consumer data to be used on their platform without a user explicitly opting in to share it.  They also confirmed that they will be moving away from targeting individually identified users and instead toward cohorts of users, so as to protect individuals’ privacy.

While the browser’s announcement was expected, it is a significant milestone with far-reaching effects on marketers, publishers, data aggregators, and many parts of the digital supply chain. At this stage, it is difficult to predict the specific implications of this update, but what we do know is that nearly all buying and measurement on the Google Marketing Platform will need to be modified. We also know that all cookie-based targeting will need to be replaced with cohort-based approaches that leverage machine learning.

First-party data with proper consent will continue to be an important data asset for advertisers to maintain, but at this time we don’t have clear answers on how advertisers will be able to use it for targeting beyond Google’s platforms. We expect to find out more as the changes are implemented throughout the year.

While we do not anticipate YouTube and Search campaign performance to be greatly affected, the impact of these changes on DV360 is more uncertain. At this stage, we are simply unsure whether cohort-based targeting will perform as well as the current id-based solutions.

As a company, AdTorque Edge supports Google’s decision to deprecate third-party cookies and is well-positioned to guide our clients through these more stringent consumer privacy measures.

Given the potential issues these updates are likely to make to performance reporting, platforms like our very own ALICE, that give detailed insight into actions after the click, are going to be even more important than ever.  Rather than relying on third-party pixel recorded conversions, ALICE can provide more tangible, last click results, matching advertising and enquiry to test drives and sales.

The cohort, as opposed to individual targeting will also mean that the quality of digital creative plays a more significant role.  Generically branded advertising is less likely to drive the same level of results, and so custom creative that encourages clicks will need to be employed. The AdTorque Edge Creative Team is already well versed in designing conversion focused advertising, so clients can rest assured that any work they commission will be of the highest necessary standard to drive results in this new environment.

As Google’s changes progress and their direct implications on digital campaign targeting capabilities are realised, our team is committed to keeping our clients well informed, and working with them however we can to ensure their campaigns continue to run and deliver the desired results they always have.