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‘Dragging on for too long’: Ad execs sound off on the beginning of the end of third-party cookies in Google’s Chrome

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The countdown to a (third-party) cookieless Chrome has started. Google is disabling third-party cookies for 1% of its Chrome users worldwide, which will affect 32 million of its 3.22 billion international users of the browser. It’s a small step for Google, but a giant leap into the unknown for digital advertising.

Digiday asked ad execs to share their unfiltered views on the latest change. 

Finally, Google is pulling the trigger on the phase-out of cookies. 

This process has been dragging on for too long and it is finally time to start. The sampled approach allows everyone participating in the tests to evaluate the supported advertising use cases and the results in a statistically solid way. However, crucial use cases are missing and, as a result, it’s hard to imagine that Sandbox can be the future of a holistic approach towards programmatic advertising. — Jochen Schlosser, chief technology officer at ad tech vendor Adform.

The inevitable shift beyond cookie-dependent advertising

The reality is that even if for some reason the depreciation schedule slows (again) it won’t change the fact that advertisers are coming round to the idea that they can’t be reliant on this type of data string to make sense. Whether those cookies go this year or next, privacy is coming in. Marketers are having to think long and hard about how regulation and consumer attributes toward privacy are changing. There’s a new reality — and arguably it might be a more efficient one if senior marketers are prepared to think more holistically about their audiences in all these different consumption environments that they’re looking to reach. — Steve Bagdasarian, chief commercial officer at measurement firm ComScore

A market mired in confusion 

Famously, Google has been signaling the end of the cookie for (literally) years, yet, unbelievably, it looks like many in the digital advertising world will have been caught short in their preparations for the cull. It is hard to tell why that is, but a general confusion surrounding effective tracking alternatives seems a popular excuse.

The Privacy Sandbox offers potential solutions to advertisers looking for campaign measurement solutions beyond the third-party cookie, but other privacy-centric solutions are also likely to come to the surface. Having been developed in a GDPR world, Brand Metrics has been focused on measuring campaign effect via methods such as first-party cookies and logged in users since 2018 and have thus built up valuable learnings ahead of the post cookie world — Sean Adams, CMO at analytics firm Brand Metrics

No shortage of experts 

We estimate that 60 to 70% of the market is ready for the cookie armageddon. It’s not like we haven’t had any warning from Google, and the industry has been planning and testing for some time around what to do when cookies are phased out.

At Preciso, our current approach regarding the demise of cookies is to take a neutral stance and work with clients however they prefer. We support them if they wish to continue using third-party cookies until this is not an option. But for those who prefer to start working exclusively with first-party data, we are ready for that too. 

We already offer server-to-server tracking to support them. By adopting this approach, the tracking tool doesn’t collect data directly from the user’s browser but is passed instead from another server. In doing so, it avoids the use of cookies  — Piero Pavone, CEO at demand-side platform Preciso

In the midst of every crisis, lies great opportunity 

There is a focus on Google as they have the lion’s share of advertising dollars, however there has been for some time, online environments devoid of cookies e.g. Apple, Safari etc, which have paved the way for testing new data methodologies and strategies.

Curation provides a deliberate way of maximizing the effectiveness of consented data, delivering audience signals via a PMP to reduce leakage, thus benefiting advertisers and their customers.

The application of data on the supply side generates scale, delivering more of the audiences’ advertisers want, and offers an easy way of transcending data providers and IDs, which have varying methodologies, to find the best route to those audiences. — Simon Reed, chief revenue officer at ad tech business Multilocal

A time for pragmatism over the future 

Email and other first-party data alternatives are rich alternatives that should be utilized and in the short-term, only advertisers who can scale this identifier will be able to benefit. It’s inevitable for there to be scrutiny of these forms of identifiers through its application of data down the line.

We expect savvy advertisers to utilize a variety of ID and targeting solutions, however, it is only those who don’t rely on black box or PII that will be there for the long term. We don’t need to exploit personal data to serve relevant advertising, and privacy-forward targeting methods like contextual have seen a huge surge of interest and application as the death of the cookie gets closer and closer. — Pete Wallace, EMEA General Manager at contextual intelligence business GumGum

Email FTW?

An email address is a passport to the internet, allowing brands to reach a user online, irrespective of their device or platform, knowing it ties back to an individual, not a cookie or device. Email is becoming a central ID that can be harnessed across online and offline channels, which makes it a powerful first-party tool for lead generation, data and insights, providing segmentation and targeting without the need for cookies, but with privacy and consent built in.

That’s why email is the bedrock of multichannel marketing today, and why the beginning of the end of cookies is nothing for marketers to fear. — Suzanna Chaplin, CEO at email-based ad tech outfit esbconnect

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