Chrome’s Delay in Killing Cookies Creates More Harm Than Good

 In Analytics, Identity, Marketing Strategy, Privacy

TL, DR: Google has delayed the death of the 3rd party cookie in Chrome until 2023 in an announcement on June 24th that extends the life by almost 2 years. Marketers and analytics professionals are going to be faced with more problems than solutions from this update. While ad-tech may not have been ready for Chrome to turn off the cookie, the rest of the ecosystem is going to continue to struggle as Safari and Firefox continue to enhance their privacy controls for consumers. Marketers will be left managing consumer interactions by browser vs. channel, causing breaks in the way that identity is handled and fracturing sales funnels. 

In my last article –Now that Google has drawn a line in the privacy sand(box), what’s next?” – we explored the implications of the death of the 3rd party cookie with the deadline set in February of 2022 and what those implications were to Marketing, Analytics, and Customer Experience teams.

When Google Chrome announced on June 24th they’d extend the life of Cookies within Chrome until 2023, my initial reaction was that this was going to be great for advertisers as it gives them more time to prepare for the change. But after taking a few days to consider the implications, this change is going to do more harm than good. Let me explain why….

  1. Cookies aren’t just about advertising. Most MarTech platforms leveraged cookies to maintain identity and are redesigning identity management in their platforms.
  2. Chrome is 50% of the browsing market. Glass half full or half empty, it’s still half of your audience which doesn’t have the life of cookies being extended until 2023.
  3. AdTech doesn’t have a solution yet. Google has all but killed FLoC, saying it needs another look, and UID 2.0 is going to need an independent operator if it wants to stay onside of the CMA (UK Competition and Markets Authority), along with a timeline to get out of beta.
  4. Privacy is in the spotlight, and if Apple has anything to say about it, it will only continue to gain in prominence, especially with their recent ad campaigns. There is a lot of talk about a mass exodus from the chrome browser because of that, but we will see if that actually happens

To understand how this is going to impact your organization and what you should be thinking about and doing right now, you need to start with a fundamental understanding of the role that cookies played for marketers over the past decade– and with cookies removed, what are the broader implications?

The Cookie

Digiday does a great job of describing the different types of cookies that marketers have been using to better understand their site visitors, track them, and record how they’ve interacted with them, but I like to use a simpler explanation:

A cookie is a means of managing identity for companies without having you (the consumer) having to actively provide data.

Cookies for a long time have been the easy button for marketers, allowing them to push the management of identity to their technology and publishing providers. Companies have built billion dollar businesses off the management and application of these cookies, which are now going away (partially), and there will be broad implications for those that can evolve quickly.

Cookies in MarTech

Many of the companies in the latest marketing technology landscape leveraged cookies to maintain the identity of the user on websites. Think of many popular personalization platforms like Optimizely, AB Tasty, etc. They’ve leveraged first-party cookies to enable testing and personalization of users on websites.

But now that first-party vendor-set cookies only last for 1 day (on Safari), they can’t continue to link an experience or a test if someone arrives 25 hours after their first visit. What are marketers to do?

Many of these platforms (testing, customer analytics, attribution, etc.) are moving to using a customer provided ID or providing a customer ID back to their clients when someone arrives on a site or experience, but how do you begin to store all of these various IDs and continue to enable a common use case like personalization?

Move beyond the cookie.

With cookies going away, marketers are now going to be faced with an identity problem within their entire technology stack above all else. And if they don’t look to solve for the lowest common denominator, or — put another way, the most privacy secure denominator — they risk splitting their sales funnels. 

Marketers are at risk of splitting their sales funnels….if they don’t become independent of the browser.

The split sales funnels will be by identity and browser types, adding layers of complexity to planning engagements with their customers and resulting in siloed views of their customers… the same siloed view that they’ve been striving to get away from in the big data world!

Solving for the identity and privacy denominator will become fundamental to the ability of organizations to connect with their customers in the near future. 

Fundamentals of operating in a privacy first, non-cookie world:

  1. Become independent of browser or channel IDs
  • Design a set of Core IDs that your team can use across your entire technology stack. Having a tool set to support you in the collection, unification, and storage of these IDs that is accessible to the multiple teams and departments who need to use this data will create a strategic differentiator for you vs. your competition.
  • Core IDs that we expect to see: Name, Phone Number, Loyalty ID, Company ID, Email, Address

What you should do: Work with your services and technology teams to understand what IDs are core to your business. Look at systems like Tealium AudienceStream to support the collection, storage, and access to these IDs across your organization, and that supports real-time data integration out to your unique MarTech stack.

  1. Privacy by design should be a part of any campaign or new build
  • Companies need to build a relationship with their customers and ensure that they have an understanding of what value is being provided to the customer in exchange for their data. Publishers have a very direct relationship of asking for data or membership in exchange for the content that they’ve developed. CPG companies may have a less direct route, leveraging things like recipes as a way of creating value for their customer to share data with them. 

What you should do: Build privacy considerations into everything you do. How are you creating audiences, what is the journey these customers will go through, what offers are they planning to receive, do you have the data ready for each stage, and has the client consented to providing you with said data? Having a clear line of consent attached to that data, along with access to it, will set marketers up for successful future campaigns and form a lasting relationship with consumers.

  1. Evolve your Technology Stack
  • As the world around us changes, so must the technology that you use to communicate to your customers. With the pace of change, you need to find partners who can keep up with the change, and be on the forefront of these shifts in privacy, consent, identity, integrations, and democratization of data for your organization. Ensuring that you have a flexible technology framework and are staying on the outlook for new and innovative ways to achieve your business outcome will be key.

What you should do: Evolution means don’t stop. One suggestion is to not stop at designing identity, truly separate the identity layer from the data layer so that you can operate cohesively across any device or channel with your new set of Core IDs. And while you’re at it – invest in real time capabilities so that Personalization struts are built into your strategy right from the get-go. 

  1. Make the move early, and stay current
  • Publisher Conversion Integrations – The advantage goes to the first mover.  New models that provide better optimizations from Facebook, SnapChat, Google, and others allow those who supply first-party conversion-based data to improve their advertising. Tealium clients have seen improvements to their observable data, targeting, bid management, and return on ad-spend by as much as 20% by utilizing these new integrations, along with improving their turn around on creative & message testing by as much as 33%.
  • Building Trust – It’s said that people can only have 5 relationships in their inner circle and at most 50 good friends. Is the same to be said for the number of companies that an individual can build trust with? Becoming part of the core set of trusted brands for individuals will be a new KPI marketers are measured on, and it will become increasingly difficult for those that delay.

What you should do: Don’t delay in beginning to collect data from your visitors and setting up a program to encourage them to share a core identifier with you. Making the move to server-side publisher integrations with Facebook, Google, and others will set you apart from your competition and support a more durable solution than depending on client-side tagging alone.

Marketers that become independent of the browser and find a set of common IDs will set themselves apart and see results far greater than those that delay, while also having the flexibility to adjust to any future changes posed to the industry.

If Google Chrome and Apple have shown us one thing, it is that things can change at the drop of a hat that will deeply impact your business. Preparing yourself with technology partners like Tealium that offer flexible, innovative platforms with support teams surrounding you sets you and your company apart from your competition in speed to adjust, and speed to market around these changes.

Interested in joining in the discussion? We’re hosting our final webinar of our Masterclass Series: Preparing for Life Beyond the Third-Party Cookie on July 15th where we will be joined by Accenture Interactive to talk about these very topics, and What’s Next for Advertisers After 2023?

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