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Google delays cookie wipeout again. How are industry players coping with the journey?

Google delays cookie wipeout again. How are industry players coping with the journey?

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Google is delaying the completion of its third-party cookie deprecation to early next year.

According to a statement made ahead of quarterly reports from Google and the UK Competition and Markets Authority (CMA), Google recognised that there are ongoing challenges related to reconciling divergent feedback from the industry, regulators and developers, and will continue to engage closely with the entire ecosystem.  

Google said it's also critical that the CMA has sufficient time to review all evidence including results from industry tests, which the CMA has asked market participants to provide by the end of June. 

“We remain committed to engaging closely with the CMA and ICO and we hope to conclude that process this year. Assuming we can reach an agreement, we envision proceeding with third-party cookie deprecation starting early next year,” the statement reads.  

However, Google did not specify a clear timeline as to when it will complete its third-party cookie demise in 2025.  

Meanwhile, the CMA said the commitments offered by Google provide the CMA with the role of overseeing Google’s design, development and implementation of its Privacy Sandbox proposals. “It specifically requires Google not to remove third-party cookies until the CMA is satisfied that our competition concerns are addressed,” the statement reads. 

MARKETING-INTERACTIVE has reached out to Google and CMA for a statement.  

This is, in fact, the third time the tech giant has postponed its original deadline set in 2020, when the company pledged to phase out third-party cookies “within two years” to safeguard consumer security and privacy when going online.  

Earlier this year, Google started to phase out wipe out third-party cookies for 1% of browser traffic, allowing industry players time to test their readiness for a web without third-party cookies. 

Google’s latest move doesn’t seem to be a surprise for many industry players. MARKETING-INTERACTIVE spoke to some marketing leads and adtech players to weigh in on how far they are on their journeys towards adapting to a cookie-less world.   

Drew Stein, CEO of Audigent 

Google heard the alarm bells from the industry that nearly 20 years of ad tech infrastructure cannot be recreated in six months. Now it is up to the industry to use this time to address the gaps and provide specific feedback to fix Privacy Sandbox. It’s also time for Google to stop just listening to all of the needed changes and deliver on the promise of a better ecosystem together by actually implementing them. 

Ben Chow, director, digital, APAC, Hyatt Hotels Corporation 

This is not completely unexpected considering the complexity of the transition. I’m sure a lot of advertisers out there will appreciate the additional time to refine their cookie-less strategies and tactics, using this time to gather more data and compare with existing approaches. 

Regardless of the current changes, we are still proceeding with our transition plan and putting in place the necessary tools and strategies to transition to a fully cookieless world. After all, there’s no harm in being early and hopefully, the early bird gets the worm.

Vincent Leung, global head of digital brand marketing, Lenzing Group

From a marketer’s perspective, this move is very welcomed. As the marketing industry evolves with a strong focus on digital marketing, data becomes an increasingly crucial resource and KPI for us.

This transition in marketing strategy has not been easy for marketers in the industry, both in-house and on the agency side: in-house marketing teams have to strategise new ways of data acquisition and managing the loss of a significant amount of third-party data, while agencies need to help their clients re-strategise how to conduct their marketing tactics for maximum impact. 

As a European-listed company, we need to be at the forefront of this initiative to comply with the new EU standards of privacy and the General Data Protection Regulation (GDPR). We’ve been actively involved in the phase-out of our third-party data for several years now, focusing on first and zero-party data acquisition as a main marketing KPI over the past two years.

Working alongside our agencies and internal teams, we’ve redefined our strategies for acquiring customer data in ways that ensure full and proper consent, while also making the customer experience as smooth and straightforward as possible. It all comes down to the value and experience we offer our customers. If we can effectively communicate the benefits we provide, customers are more likely to sign up and share their data. However, it's crucial that the data collection process and customer journey are easy to navigate to minimise drop-off rates.

Cedric Dias, group head of marketing, OONA Insurance

In my opinion, this is a good thing for the ad industry and for both brands as well as advertising companies. Third-party cookies have been a staple of online advertising for many years, and their removal would have had a major impact on the industry. In most markets in SEA, there are multiple safeguards when it comes to privacy of customers, which by and large are adhered to by the majority of brands as well as advertisers. Most brands I know of have put in place some measures to tackle this eventuality – such as increasing the emphasis on first-party data and also utilising partnerships in greater detail.

It must be mentioned, however, that it is still extremely important to consider privacy concerns of consumers. Third-party cookies can be used to track people's browsing activity across the web, which can be intrusive. Google's Privacy Sandbox initiative is intended to address these concerns by developing new ways to target advertising that are more respectful of user privacy.

As is the case with most brands, we are working towards leveraging first party data and partnerships as much as we can, which has proven to be quite effective. At this point, I still cannot say that we are ready for cookie-less advertising but do believe that we are well on our way to reduce reliance on the same.

Alice Au, group director, digital marketing, Wharf Hotels 

Wharf Hotels (Niccolo, Maqo and Marco Polo) have taken this topic very seriously and linked it to our own projects in this field: comprehensive audit and sanity check of our own first party data reviewing how we capture, store and use customer data; mapping out our first party data streams against customer touch points and the customer consent being given to us, followed by data cleansing if needed

We have worked with our in-house technical team and external partners and agencies to harness trustworthy, reliable, and validated solutions for a cookieless world.  

Yet, we should also be prepared during this stage for everything to be seamless and optimised. While there is the chance of transitional hiccups and decrease in efficiency may be witnessed, agility is required to overcome and excel while using new opportunities presenting themselves to us.

The delay in the depreciation of the third-party cookie policy is offering us more time for the testing and eliminating errors increasing the effectiveness and efficiency of the blue print that we mapped out.

Dan Richardson, director of data and insights, AUSEA, Yahoo 

“Google’s new timeline helps the industry continue to test and adapt. Beyond even cookies, non-addressable inventory will only increase and the industry should act now to prepare for these changes. Either way, Yahoo is ready to support advertisers today, with solutions for addressable and non-addressable environments, as well as testing in the Privacy Sandbox.”

Related articles:

Google's cookie deprecation: What digital marketing doors does it open?
Marketers, don't just rest on your laurels because Google cookie wipeout is delayed

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