Marketers and advertisers have always been resilient and throughout the years there have been a number of events that have changed the way we advertise.
Third-party cookies are used by advertisers to track users as they navigate the online space, building a profile around them based on their interests and websites they visit. With this information, advertisers are able to target users with ads that best serve their interests and online behaviours. Google’s third-party cookies are on millions of websites, feeding businesses with information about users which in turn, powers their advertising efforts.
However, the public has grown increasingly aware of privacy issues in the digital space and regulations are constantly changing regarding privacy laws - and Google has taken notice.
This phase-out was announced in 2020 however the buzz around this was accelerated in March 2021 when they announced that they wouldn't be building any alternate identifiers to track users as they browse the web.
According to a statement made by Google: "We realize this means other providers may offer a level of user identity for ad tracking across the web that we will not — like PII graphs based on people’s email addresses," the Google post also stated, "We don’t believe these solutions will meet rising consumer expectations for privacy, nor will they stand up to rapidly evolving regulatory restrictions, and therefore aren’t a sustainable long term investment. Instead, our web products will be powered by privacy-preserving APIs which prevent individual tracking while still delivering results for advertisers and publishers."
Of course, this announcement sent shock-waves through the marketing and advertising communities. So, how are marketers and advertisers adjusting to this phase-out?
How marketers are reacting to Google Cookies 2022 phase-out
Of course advertisers have criticised Google’s change and businesses quickly began to research the marketing impact this would have on business.
HubSpot announced it had received data from GetApp that discovered the following insight regarding the cookies phase-out:
41% of marketers stated their biggest challenge will now be the inability to track precise data
A large portion of marketers (44%) predict a need to increase their marketing spending by 5% - 25% if they want to reach the same goals as 2021.
23% of marketers will be investing in email marketing and email automation software because of the phase-out
The above statistics may feel bleak, but there is no real need to panic. The death of third-party cookies is inevitable, but the death of effective, smart and automated digital advertising is not. It is also important to clear up any misconceptions about what this phase-out actually looks like and what you can expect from it in 2022.
Three things you need to know about the Google Third-Party Cookies phase-out
1. Google isn’t phasing-out ALL cookies
Your cookie based marketing strategies won’t be completely obsolete in 2022. As it stands, Google has stated that it only plans to phase-out third party Google cookies and first-party cookies can still be used to track basic data regarding your website visitors. Google understands the importance of tracking a user on a website and in its 2021 announcement, the tech giant stated that first-party data is vital. With this in mind, you will still be able to monitor user behaviour on your own website.
2. Google isn’t stopping all its tracking capabilities
Google is no longer investing in technology that tracks users on an individual level, it still has the power to use alternative tracking means. Google has seen successful advertising results from FloC, a transformative technology that tracks groups of users rather than individual users. Google stated, “Our latest tests of FLoC show one way to effectively take third-party cookies out of the advertising equation and instead hide individuals within large crowds of people with common interests.”
FloC will be used to present users adverts that they believe a user is interested in and the tech giant claims that the system is proven to be 95% as powerful as third-party cookies - and Chrome plans to place FLoC at the core of its advertising process in 2022.
3. Innovative advertising is on the rise
It’s time for brands and marketers to adapt as privacy laws continue to rise. This means marketers and advertisers have the opportunity to look into advertising alternatives. Innovative marketers will be able to craft smart alternatives and ads that identify the masses, not just hyper-targeted content. Another area that can be leveraged is the way data is processed and used. Essentially, through Customer Relationship Management software and lead generation tactics outside of third-party cookies, you will be able to target and learn about your relevant audience without becoming too intrusive.
How to prepare for the third-party cookie phase-out
The most important thing to do is not panic. Advertisers and data engineers are seeking even more powerful solutions and with transformative technology and smart advertising, you will have nothing to worry about.
Make sure to keep up with the latest data-privacy settings and make the right moves regarding these regulations.
If your strategy relies on a third-party data line, consider alternatives and take a look at software solutions, inbound marketing and CRMs that can help you transition away from the Google third-party cookie.
First-party cookies aren’t being phased out and you can focus your efforts on collecting and understanding this data to improve user experience on your website.
Revisit older strategies such as contextual advertising.
Keep your brand safe, brainstorm strategies that will help you reach your desired audience without third-party data.
Zero party data will become even more important. This refers to data where users voluntarily provide their information to a website or platform. This can be done through lead forms that are designed around a lead magnet.
Invest time in understanding Google FLoC, a system that groups thousands of people with similar browsing habits together. This gives advertisers a less-targeted understanding of the audience but this information is still incredibly valuable and can be used strategically when it comes to marketing.
The Wrap Up
Marketers and advertisers have always been resilient and throughout the years there have been a number of events that have changed the way we advertise. The digital age is about change and resilience and it is important that you embrace this change rather than fight it.
It’s time to adjust, strategize and move forward - something we all know marketers are good at.
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by Aaron Johal Dec 15, 2021
Aaron is an experienced SEO/PPC executive with expertise in paid media strategy, customer acquisition, search engine optimisation and data analytics. He has executed successful paid media campaigns in a variety of industries, including IT, automotive and finance. He is Google Analytics & Ads certified.