How Google's Cookie Restrictions Could Benefit Advertisers and Publishers
Google is always working to ensure as many consumer eyeballs as possible remain on its platforms. This truism holds the first obvious benefit for advertisers — a captive audience. And that audience is the major thing to remember for marketers who are upset about losing third-party tracking capabilities on Chrome later this year.
Pushing Google not to block third-party cookies could backfire. If advertisers want to be where the consumers are, they might want to keep in mind that the changes Google makes are generally aimed at making those consumers happy enough to stay. Generally.
Here’s an example of why when, for instance, Google looks out for itself, consumers fire back. And marketers can extrapolate from there how this lesson reveals what could happen to advertisers looking out for their interests instead of those of consumers:
Google recently instituted automatic ad blocking on Chrome. In what seems like a related matter, Google was then going to block third-party ad blockers. But consumers let Google know they liked their third-party ad blockers — such as uBlock Origin, Adblock Plus, Brave, DuckDuckGo, and Cliqz'z Ghostery — and wanted to keep them.
“A study analyzing the performance of Chrome ad blocker extensions published on Friday has proven wrong claims made by Google developers last month, when a controversy broke out surrounding their decision to modify the Chrome browser in such a way that would have eventually killed off ad blockers and many other extensions. … Hours after the Ghostery team published its study and benchmark results, the Chrome team backtracked on their planned modifications.”
What’s Changing in Chrome
“Later this year,” Chrome will provide consumers with the ability to see “how sites are using cookies, as well as simpler controls for cross-site cookies,” write Ben Galbraith, director of Chrome Product Management, and Justin Schuh, director of Chrome Engineering on May 7 in the Chromium Blog.
Consumers can allow “single domain cookies” to remain, which the writers say will help consumers keep user logins and settings on the sites where they don’t want to repeatedly input the information.
“It will also enable browsers to provide clear information about which sites are setting these cookies, so users can make informed choices about how their data is used,” write Galbraith and Schuh.
They provided a link so developers can learn how to comply with Chrome’s changes.
How Google Says Advertisers Will Be Impacted
Writes Prabhakar Raghavan, SVP of Google Ads and Commerce on May 7 in the Google Ads Blog:
“Our experience shows that people prefer ads that are personalized to their needs and interests — but only if those ads offer transparency, choice, and control. However, the digital advertising ecosystem can be complex and opaque, and many people don’t feel they have enough visibility into, or control over, their web experience.”
Reiterating Galbraith and Schuh’s sentiments, Raghavan points out that it will be easy for consumers to enable their bank’s cookies to remain in place, for example.
“Chrome intends to make it easier for users to block or clear cookies used in a third-party context, with minimal disruption to cookies used in a first-party context.”
So advertisers will know consumers using Chrome who see their ads want to see their ads, which will mean they’re more engaged. This will also allow marketers to enhance their personalization efforts with these engaged consumers, because they will trust that their privacy and choices are being respected.
When Google creates the Chrome browser extensions and allows advertiser to use them in the coming months, Raghavan says he hopes to see advertisers emulate what Google is doing with its properties:
“For the ads that Google shows on our own properties and those of our publishing partners, we will disclose new information through an open-source browser extension that will work across different browsers. The new information will include the names of other companies that we know were involved in the process that resulted in an ad — for example, ad tech companies that acted as intermediaries between the advertiser and publisher, and companies with ad trackers present in an ad. The browser extension will also surface the factors used to tailor an ad to a user, which we provide today.
“The extension will display information for each ad we show a user, and will present an aggregated snapshot for all the ads Google has shown a user recently.”
This may be an opportunity for publishers to leverage all of that first-party consumer data they have to gain ad revenue, a source tells Digiday on May 9:
“We can forget in our industry, that Google is a consumer company as well as an ads business,” said Amit Kotecha, marketing director at DMP Permutive. “This is about giving users more control of their data, but it also gives publishers more control of their own data. There has been too much reliance on third-party data as a way to understand audiences. This puts the power back in publishers’ hands.” His reasoning: If third-party cookies are blocked, the only way to find an audience outside of Google and Facebook is to go direct to publishers and use first-party data to find audiences.
Dan Goldstein is the president and owner of Page 1 Solutions, a full-service digital marketing agency. He commends Google’s move in a May 8 email to Target Marketing, saying:
"I am happy to see Google positioning itself as a privacy-forward company. Given the Chrome browser’s dominance, it allows Google to promote consumer privacy like Apple — while distinguishing Google from Facebook with its multitude of data privacy scandals.
"This should be a positive step toward data privacy for consumers, and it may force advertisers to focus on contextual advertising — advertising to consumers who visit specific web pages, based on the content on those pages. Contextual advertising feels a lot less like Big Brother and benefits consumers by presenting them with ads that are relevant to the content of the pages they are visiting.
"This change should allow advertisers to target consumers based on their interests, and that is a win-win for both consumers and advertisers. At the end of the day, it will probably also be a win for Google, if more advertising dollars go to Google Ads in search.”
Many Advertisers Are Seeking First-Party Opt-ins for Other Reasons, So This May Not Change Much
Google’s been mobile-first in its search results for a long time, and mobile tracking is already cookie-free. Google stopped providing analytics information about its logged-in users a long time ago.
And across the Web, data privacy regulations have marketers seeking opt-in for everything from email to e-commerce sites.
But consumers are still opting in and marketers are still in business.
“The ID is where everyone wants to go” said an executive at a major publisher. “But the only way this works is if all the ecosystem gets together. If you want to buy shares in the ID consortiums, now is a good time to do it.”
What do you think? Please respond in the comments section below.
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