How cookie deprecation, first-party data and privacy regulations are impacting the data landscape

Dave Taylor, Chief Product Officer, Alliant

In 2024, data will play a more significant role in marketing than ever before. At the same time, the landscape in which this data is collected, stored and activated will change dramatically.

Marketers are well-versed in the trends reshaping the data-driven advertising industry: the loss of third-party cookies and other signals, the use of first-party data for marketing and increasing privacy restrictions. The marketing and advertising world has been discussing the potential implications of these ongoing shifts for years. 

What’s perhaps most interesting — and impactful — from a marketing perspective is the repercussions and likely next phases of trends like cookie deprecation, shifts in data usage and mounting privacy regulations.

As Google’s privacy concerns diminish, antitrust concerns are likely to grow

Google’s long-foretold deprecation of third-party cookies in Chrome has begun. The industry will adapt on many fronts in light of this new signal loss, ultimately moving toward an ecosystem governed by authenticated identity. 

While advertisers must focus on forging their paths forward in a cookieless landscape, it’s worth considering what comes next for Google. As privacy concerns dwindle with the deprecation of third-party cookies, there’s good reason to believe that antitrust concerns will grow regarding the industry titan. 

The timing of Google’s deprecation of third-party cookies on Chrome, coming years after Safari and Firefox made the same move, is telling. The simple reality is that Google did not want to make this move until it could develop an alternate approach that enabled the tracking, targeting and monetization of logged-in Chrome users. Now that Google has had the time to secure its ad revenue against any major disruptions, it will end the cookie’s reign. 

This move will garner added scrutiny from regulators who have already set their antitrust sights on Google in the past. With the deprecation of third-party cookies, Google retains end-to-end control of a massive swath of the advertising technology that powers the internet, and the company is going to be sharing less and less of that power (in the form of data and insights) with its clients and other parties. 

Despite a few other formidable ad tech players, it will be harder for Google to pretend there’s much competition out there. Over the long haul, it’s increasingly likely that certain components of Google’s business will be spun off into new companies—either voluntarily or via regulatory action. 

Advertisers will turn to all-party data for cross-channel activations

In recent years, activating first-party data, especially through clean rooms, has become the preferred path. With third-party cookies soon to be finally out of the picture, many industry watchers are wondering whether this push toward activating first-party data will be amplified even further. 

But first-party data is one of many paths forward in a cookieless, privacy-first landscape. Third-party data is not disappearing, and custom solution providers will have a more significant role in the industry than ever. 

Cross-channel activations and achieving scale will require a potent combination of first-party data with third-party data enrichment. Collaboration will be at an all-time high, and new types of partnerships built on transparency and customization will emerge. Instead of 2024 being “The Year of First-Party Data,” it’s shaping up to be “The Year of All-Party Data.”

Brands will become significant privacy advocates

The rising tide of data privacy legislation will wash over the marketing industry this year. 

Five of the eight states that passed legislation in 2023 (Montana, Florida, Texas, Oregon and Delaware) will see those rules come into effect in 2024. Currently, 14-in-50 states have data privacy regulations in place, but 40 states have legislation tabled — so expect plenty more states to follow suit. (New state legislation can be tracked here.)

Increasingly, brands will be fined for their use (or misuse) of data. Understandably, this will cause a real reaction and lead to new types of conversations and communications becoming commonplace. 

Expect brands and their privacy professionals to pivot from a reactionary and defensive stance to one that goes on the offensive — publicly advocating for consumer privacy while talking more about the personalized and highly coveted experiences that can be delivered to consumers with the proper use of consented data.    

Subject matter experts in the data privacy space will continue to win industry attention. Legal topics are in demand at industry events, with marketers who speak the language of privacy fluently becoming the hottest panelists at major conferences. Look for this to continue as brands, agencies, data providers, platforms and more push their stance on data privacy into the limelight even further in 2024. 

Ultimately, the U.S. marketing industry will be clamoring for data privacy regulation at a federal level by year’s end. Still, it likely won’t be until 2025—after this year’s contentious election season—that such initiatives might take shape. 

While the trends toward cookieless targeting, evolved data use and stricter privacy regulations are intertwined, each will send its own waves through the data-driven marketing industry in the coming months. The advertisers that stay abreast of the latest developments and lean on their partners for deeper insights and support will be most prepared to ride them.

Sponsored by Alliant

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