While marketers and consumers alike have had a long-standing love-hate relationship with the internet cookie, it seems as if Google has plans to end its relationship with the data file type altogether. If you haven’t heard, the tech giant recently announced that it intends to phase out third-party cookies by 2022 in order to replace it with what has been dubbed the “Google Privacy Sandbox.”
It’s important to note that Google can’t kill the cookie by itself. However, given that Chrome accounts for nearly 70% of browser market share¹, it is a move that’s leaving advertisers a little nervous and with a lot of questions about what this actually means for the advertising ecosystem. Here, we breakdown what you need to know.
Why is Google Building a Privacy Sandbox?
The cookie goes as far back as when “The Sign” by Ace of Base was a top single on the Billboard charts. In other words, the cookie has managed to provide brands with a way to make their ads more relevant for well over 20 years, so why are they changing things now? A large part of the answer is within the name itself — privacy. Google wants both consumers and advertisers to play nice in its sandbox, so it plans to address two main problems.
- Fingerprinting: This practice of gathering bits of information unique to a user’s browser arose as a way to combat ad blockers, but removes choice from users because it cannot be cleared or controlled like cookies.
- Publisher Revenue: Blocking cookies without an alternative to serve relevant ads negatively impacts publisher revenue — by 52% on average according to Google.
More specifically, Google wants to improve the process of classifying cookies, give more visibility to cookie settings and aggressively block fingerprinting.
Sounds Good. Is This Something I Have to Think About Now?
Yes and no. While the goal is for the privacy sandbox to be fully up and running by 2022, there are a couple of things a marketer should consider today.
- Some Changes Are Happening Now: Beginning February 2020, Google’s latest version, Chrome 80, will no longer support insecure 3rd party cookies. This basically means cookies not set or read HTTPS will get rejected.
- New World, More Standardization?: While the assumption is that this change will happen gradually, the deprecation and ultimate death of cookies will fundamentally change how advertisers deal with reach & frequency measurement, attribution, remessaging, sequencing, data management, and more. However, this change presents an opportunity for growth. For years, the industry has operated in browser, device and OS silos, but Google’s direction could very well bring about long-needed standardization if it takes comments and feedback from the ecosystem to heart.
What are Adtech Companies Like Innovid Doing in Response?
Make no mistake, many tech companies are already thinking about how to help customers navigate these new waters. Innovid, for example, is already prepped for Chrome’s new requirement regarding HTTPs, and has made all necessary changes to our cookie technology.
In the long term, the industry as a whole will have to find solutions other than the third-party cookie for measurement and attribution. As a pioneer of CTV advertising, Innovid has already operated in cookie-free environments and continues to build a household graph with other identifiers such as device ID and IP address. Lastly, as a long established Google Ads Data Hub partner, Innovid will work closely with Google on measurement solutions for YouTube.
¹Net Marketshare, 2019 Browser Market Share, Desktop/Laptop and Mobile