Google might claim its latest decision to delay the execution of third party cookies until 2024 has come “in response to feedback for more time” but it is claimed most marketers will greet the move with yet another sigh of relief as many still have not done anything about it themselves.
The first delay was announced in 2020 at the height of the Covid pandemic, then last year Google said it would phase out cookies over a three-month period ending in late 2023.
But now the tech giant insists the digital advertising industry has requested “more time to evaluate and test” its Privacy Sandbox before depreciating third-party cookies in Chrome.
But continual scrutiny by the UK Competition & Markets Authority (CMA), the US Department of Justice and the European Commission is the real reason Google has been forced to rethink its timeframe.
Back in February the company agreed to hold onto third-party cookies until it had satisfied the CMA’s competition concerns.
Iterable senior director of global enterprise marketing Elle Nadal said: “Many marketers still have a long way to go to be ready for this change. The arrival of Google’s Privacy Sandbox promises a significant new shift in avenues for customer engagement, one that requires brands to go back to first principles and re-evaluate the core tools and policies they use to connect with customers.
“Google needs to use this delay to fully engage with the industry on what the post-third-party cookies era looks like. Brands know that they need practical, lasting solutions. For customers and their personal data, trust is a top priority.
“If a consumer doesn’t trust a brand, they aren’t going to let their data anywhere near it. Brands, therefore, need to accept this new reality and reorient how they approach the handling of data.”
Digital Remedy vice-president of marketing Matt Engstrom commented: “This moving target could be the result of Google’s own concerns around having a viable sandbox alternative ready to deploy upon a finalisation of cookie deprecation – as the world’s largest advertising partner they have billions of dollars at risk.”
But this also creates ambiguity for advertisers as to when Google’s cookie replacement strategies need to be finalised. “Companies placing development resources into initiatives such as independent web IDs, may now face an additional setback as those alternatives aren’t required in the short-term as Google continues to push out the deadline.”
Ultimately, though Iterable’s Nadal believes that with the cookieless world on the horizon, brands should focus on creating a personalised customer experience.
“Consumers are increasingly drawn to brands they feel a connection with. This connection must be built on transparency and being upfront about how consumer data is collected and used. By shifting towards first and zero-party data, brands can be more transparent with their customers and use empathy to build stronger and more durable relationships.”
Meanwhile, data collected by intelligence firm Braidr, indicates that only of 0.25% of CMOs in the UK have been engaging in crucial discussions about the cookieless future and the significant impact the shift will have on their businesses.
Braidr has analysed the Twitter profiles of more than 15,000 CMOs and similar professional roles across the UK and US over the past 12 weeks.
Far from engaging in what is perhaps the most significant digital shift since the introduction of mobile technology, marketing leaders are distracted by the role of AI in business.
The vast majority are failing to discuss the impact that the loss of third-party cookies and increased privacy demands will have on marketing – and company finances, if not mitigated imminently.
Dora Moldovan, co-founder and managing director of Braidr, said: “It’s mind-boggling, and concerning, in equal measure that virtually no-one has been paying attention to the biggest online shift in front of us.
“Despite Google announcing a short delay, the next e-generation is looming incredibly fast, where everything that we’ve learned over the past 20 years, and the tools we know are going to disappear, yet CMOs are talking mostly about AI, the Metaverse and Elon Musk.
“While all these topics are exciting and sometimes entertaining, none of them will have such an immediate impact on the bottom line as the sunset of third-party cookies.”
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