Earlier this month, Google announced that it would finally follow in the footsteps of competitors Firefox and Safari by dropping the third-party cookie. This is a major announcement, especially following Google’s August 2019 statement that blocking cookies would just lead to more invasive forms of data collection, such as a device fingerprinting.
With legislation like GDPR (General Data Protection Regulation) and CCPA (California Consumer Privacy Act) already in effect and other states working on their own proposals, a privacy-oriented move from Google makes sense, especially with Apple and Mozilla pushing an anti-data collection agenda for their browsers. However, it is important to examine how this will affect adtech companies, publishers and the triopoly.
The first group to look at is adtech companies. While the stock of industry leaders like Criteo and LiveRamp took hits, the announcement is not as concerning as it seems. Companies have been preparing for Google to take action for a long time now, and with two years to continue to find alternatives to the cookie, there is ample time for a solution to be created. Many of these companies also have treasure troves of their own data that will be very useful in a future where data collection is not as simple as it once was.
The biggest challenge for adtech will be forging publisher relationships to build their data and targeting capabilities and finding ways to map the customer journey beyond simple last-click attribution.
Publishers actually stand to benefit. Because they will be able to collect data on their own sites, they will have access to unique insights that will become much more valuable. Publishers like Time Out and MailOnline have their own information already, as do other sites that require logins to access content. Moving toward a subscription-based model would only be more helpful in this regard.
Certain publishers will be able to capitalize on their niche audiences in a similar way to OTT apps, which are cookie-less, such as Bloomberg.com being a destination for those interested in finance.
From the perspective of Google, Facebook, and Amazon, this is a major win. With their treasure troves of unique, first-party data, a more limited competitor supply due to tracking restrictions makes theirs all the more valuable. Google already collects data from Gmail, Maps, YouTube, Android, Google Home, and search, while Facebook and Amazon’s capabilities are well-documented.
The advertising industry is, as always, in a state of flux. This announcement has already made waves across each level of the digital ecosystem, and every group with a stake must be prepared to adjust. Those who had the insight to look ahead and put a plan in place are well-positioned to minimize business impact impact from these changes.