POV: Google To Leave Cookies Behind
January 27, 2020

Summary

In an unsurprising move based on previous announcements concerning user privacy, Google is planning to move away from supporting third-party cookies in Chrome within the next two years. Other top browsers like Safari and Firefox have already banned cookies. Because of the stranglehold Google has developed on the digital marketing ecosystem, e.g., Chrome accounts for 64% of worldwide browser usage (*Statcounter), this eventual change will potentially force marketers to drastically rethink how to target, gain insight and attribute media to their online consumer bases.  

To understand how this change will affect our advertisers, we feel it is important to first walk through who the likely winners and losers of the ecosystem will be in a cookie-less world.

Likely Winners

Google:

Google will continue to treat the user data within their data ecosystem as first-party data. This move will have little to no negative impact on them. Advertisers relying on Google for data, inventory, tech or attribution will likely be forced to spend more time and money to maintain their understanding of their user in the Google universe.

Walled Gardens: Google, Facebook, Amazon, Verizon, AT&T

Minimizing waste and managing user experience via frequency and audience controls will become more difficult. Buyers will need to move from a semi-omnichannel approach to a more walled garden approach. For example, agencies will likely ramp up their effort to retrain their staffs for each walled garden as targeting and attribution options become more unique within the walled gardens, which will naturally lead to even more spend within the giants of our industry.

Cookie-Less Channels:

Newer digital channels like mobile, audio, CTV and DOOH do not use the cookie today for targeting. This means they will largely be unaffected by this change. All of these channels are available at Fusion92 today.

Cookie-Less Tactics:

Category, keyword, geofence, weather triggered and PMP tactics do not use the cookie today so they will not be affected. All of these tactics are available at Fusion92 today.

Technologies With Identity Graph Solutions: LiveRamp

Technologies that have been working to develop cookie-less/ID-based solutions have a head start on those still relying on the cookie.

Likely Losers

Some Publishers:

Google released a study last year showing that removing third-party cookies reduced publisher ad revenue by 52% (*Ad Exchanger). However, publishers with strong user bases may eventually reap the benefits as the value as their first-party audiences becomes more desirable.  

Small Ad Technologies:

Developing ID solutions or similar tech has a high barrier to entry due to the high cost. It will naturally be easier for larger companies to rebuild their backend to adapt to this new cookie-less world.  

Data Management Platforms:

The collection, segmentation and transfer of anonymous cookie-based audiences across the digital ecosystem are the backbone of most DMPs.  

Attribution Platforms:

Most attribution platforms rely on Google’s enormous cookie pool as the single largest piece of their attribution solutions. Without this piece, at least in the short term, clients relying on robust attribution systems will have issues.


Conclusion

The good news for marketers is that they still have some time to get ready for this change, as Google does not plan to kill the cookie until they have settled on a new approach that “addressed the needs of users, publishers, and advertisers” (*Google Announcement). Regardless of the methodology they settle on, messaging users in a one-to-one manner via third-party cookies will likely not be possible anymore.  This means that digital budget distributions and the tactics used will need adjustment in this cookie-less world. Fusion92 has been preparing for this inevitable ecosystem shift via our partnerships that allow us to activate within the leading cookie-lees channels and tactics. Additionally, first-party audiences will become king in this new world either by working through the strong relationships we have developed with the walled gardens and their data sources, helping our clients better utilize their own first-party data or working with more of the the top publishers in the industry. We will help our clients come up with the right strategies to ensure we continue to deliver business results that improve their bottom line.