Chrome ‘C-day’: Adtechs on Google’s cookie switch-off

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Global tech giant Google today starts turning off internet cookies for some users of its Chrome search engine, marking the end of an era in web tracking.

Although only 1% of Chrome users are likely to be affected it still represents a chunky 30 million people around the world, and sets new boundaries for brands and advertisers in the digital world.

It’s been a long time coming, and brands, adtechs and advertisers will all need to innovate in new ways.

So we asked our adtech leaders for their reaction to what ‘C-day’ really means for everyone…

Chrome cookie era is over

Suzanna-Chaplin-CEO-esbconnectSuzanna Chaplin, CEO, esbconnect

“The imminent death of third-party cookies in Chrome has been coming for a long time, bringing with it a reduced ability on the part of marketers to adopt data-driven approaches and deliver performance in the way they once did.

“Many brands have already re-evaluated their channel investment decisions, which is why email has gained traction as they’ve hunted for replacement solutions.

“An email address is a passport to the internet, allowing brands to reach a user online, irrespective of their device or platform, knowing it ties back to an individual, not a cookie or device.

“Email is becoming a central ID that can be harnessed across online and offline channels, which makes it a powerful first-party tool for lead generation, data and insights, providing segmentation and targeting without the need for cookies, but with privacy and consent built in.

“That’s why email is the bedrock of multichannel marketing today, and why the beginning of the end of cookies is nothing for marketers to fear.”

Maor-sadra-incrmntalMaor Sadra, CEO, INCRMNTAL 

“As far as marketers are concerned, it’s a good job that the initial phase of Google’s cookie deprecation only extends to 1% of its users, because despite the lengthy build up, the majority of brands are not prepared for the cookie going.

“A privacy-safe replacement solution or series of solutions is needed to fill the cookie-shaped void, and although a myriad of tools have popped up in a bid to replace the cookie, there is no clear winner in sight.

“It begs the question of whether there’s any hope for the future of successful digital advertising post cookies? The answer is yes, but a different approach is required.

“Firstly, marketers need to quit obsessing over tracking and measuring every minute detail. It’s simply not possible. Even the most advanced AI can’t tell us what an individual consumer is really thinking.

“Once marketers accept this and stop chasing the impossible, the rest is straightforward, because privacy-safe tools exist that can provide brands with an even better understanding of how their campaigns are performing than third-party cookies.

“So the cookie going isn’t as big a deal as brands think it is; it simply requires a new perspective.”

Rod-Sewell-CEO-SmartFrame-Technologies-1Rob Sewell, CEO SmartFrame

“The full ramifications of these changes may not be immediately apparent, given the small percentage of users they will impact right now.

“However, advertisers and marketers must recognize the rapid pace at which the demise of the third-party cookie could develop and seize this time to strategise for the future.

“As the digital ecosystem undergoes rapid transformations, it becomes crucial to consider how the advertising landscape will look by the year’s end.

“While that may still seem uncertain – especially given that Google’s Privacy Sandbox rollout may still be subject to further intervention by the UK’s Competition and Market Authority – advertisers must embrace the opportunity to evaluate existing technologies and identify any gaps that need addressing as we navigate the reality of a cookie-less world moving forward.”

Ian-Liddicoat-AdludioIan Liddicoat, CTO and Head of Data Science, Adludio

“The removal of third-party cookies for a random sample of Chrome users will take place on January 4th as part of Google’s Privacy Sandbox initiative.

“This is an attempt by Google to allow website owners and developers time to assess the impact of this decision but has been in the works for months.

“For advertisers, there should be no surprises here, as they have had ample time to assess the likely impact as well as test potential solutions.

“Strategies will likely include gathering first-party data with additional consent management, using advanced contextual targeting, and greater use of AI to establish cross-device behaviour at the segment level while preserving privacy.

“Looking ahead, what matters ultimately is that consumers value the relationship they have with a given brand and, as a result, are willing to share personal data governed by more stringent privacy controls.

“This will see an even greater emphasis placed on gathering and accurately maintaining first-party data.”

Larraine-Criss-COO-PrecisoLarraine Criss, COO, Preciso

“We estimate that 60 to 70% of the market is ready for the cookie armageddon. It’s not like we haven’t had any warning from Google, and the industry has been planning and testing for some time around what to do when cookies are phased out.

“At Preciso, our current approach regarding the demise of cookies is to take a neutral stance and work with clients however they prefer.

“We support them if they wish to continue using third-party cookies until this is not an option. But for those who prefer to start working exclusively with first-party data, we are ready for that too.

“We already offer server-to-server tracking to support them. By adopting this approach, the tracking tool doesn’t collect data directly from the user’s browser but is passed instead from another server. In doing so, it avoids the use of cookies.

“As cookies disappear, we are seeing buyers and sellers having to work closer together, which is a good thing. As some of the complexities in delivering programmatic campaigns are caused by too many parties involved in the process, streamlining is a positive.“

Alex-Newberry-content-igniteAlex Newberry, Chief Revenue Officer, Content Ignite

“Sandbox is yet to be fully tested, adopted or even approved for widespread use.

“It is unlikely that the removal of cookies for 1% of users will make an immediate change to ad buyer behaviour or revenue, unless certain verticals are disproportionately affected.

“Still, publishers should monitor yield and open market performance for any negative effect.

“They should also talk with their partners, such as SSPs and demand sources, on what they are seeing on a larger scale and for an overview on all ad buying.”

“The removal of all third-party cookies from Chrome, however, will adversely affect market yield and revenue for publishers on a larger scale.

“Those who rely on open market revenue – for example, smaller publishers without access to data and especially those with a limited direct sales function — will be most impacted.

“To prepare, publishers should ensure they have access to all the relevant IDs and contextual technology to enable audience segmentation and offer non PII targeting. They should also be looking to enrich their bidstream with contextual, vertical and IAB categories.”

Raphael Rodier, CRO Global, OguryRaphael Rodier, Global Chief Revenue Officer, Ogury

“The demolition of third-party cookies on Chrome is finally here. For too long, advertisers lost focus on the demise of the cookie, distracted by emerging tech such as generative AI, the metaverse or connected TV).

“While the window of opportunity to better prepare themselves for this challenge has been missed, there is still time for the industry to explore readily available alternative solutions to advertising identifiers, and gain the upper hand in the reality of the cookie-less world.

“Although some businesses turned a blind eye to the privacy demands of consumers, other forward-thinking players preempted the ecosystem’s privacy shift and have already developed alternative cookieless and ID-less solutions, able to effectively scale ad targeting.

“Advertisers can’t afford to waste anymore time, and under the pressures of maximising ad budgets in the new year, need to explore these available solutions and partnerships to weather the privacy storm.”

dan-pike-covaticDan Pike, CPO, Covatic

“The latest Google news is not really news at all; the industry has been aware that cookies were on borrowed time for what seems like forever, and most savvy publishers and brands have prepared themselves to move beyond these outdated and ineffective identifiers.

“There are already tried and tested cookie-less solutions deployed in-market and used by major publishers.

“These have the additional benefit of putting them in control of their own data, tech, and revenue, while avoiding strategic capture by Google and the other big digital players.

“So we should see the cookie’s demise as a positive step in the evolution of the digital industry; as it will create more responsible, addressable, and effective targeting methods, while offering greater protection and choice for consumers over how their data is used.”

Aly-Nurmohamed-PermutiveAly Nurmohamed, COO, Permutive

“After a long wait, Google is finally beginning to deprecate third-party cookies, opening up a significant opportunity for publishers and advertisers to change advertising for the better.

“Publishers find themselves in the influential position of being able to fill the data gap that will exist due to lost user-level data.

“They have access to the behavioural, lifestyle, and demographic signals they capture online and offline and the power to leverage this information, enabling advertisers to target without the need for third-party cookies.

“Forming more direct relationships with advertisers is a strategy many publishers are focused on this year, with 58% of respondents to a recent Permutive and Digiday survey stating that they expect 41% or more of their 2024 ad revenue to come from direct-sold deals.

“For advertisers, these deals enable them to reach 100% of their target audiences, which isn’t possible on the open web, where addressability is already only 30% of the population due to cookie-blocked browsing and data sharing opt-out.

“By publishers and advertisers working more closely together, the demise of cookies is an opportunity rather than a disadvantage.”

Lukasz-Włodarczyk-rtbhoueLukasz Wlodarczyk, VP Programmatic Ecosystem Growth & Innovation, RTB House

“We’re optimistic about the 1% user test, viewing it as a starting point for the essential feedback loop in evolving new ad technologies.

“It’s vital to acknowledge that the initial 1% user test is insufficient for comprehensive learning. Buyers may (and most likely will) allocate higher budgets to cookieless campaigns during this phase, potentially distorting metrics.

“This will skew core metrics across publishers, AdTech companies, and advertisers. A broader data set is needed for a meaningful evaluation of the cookieless impact.

“The initial 1% user participation in Google’s cookie deprecation is a pivotal first move towards a cookieless ecosystem.

“Although it’s just the beginning, this phase is fundamental for testing and adapting to new models. Looking ahead, the proposed next step is to increase the fraction of cookieless users to 10%.

“This increase is crucial for more comprehensive testing and optimization, and for allowing the ecosystem to gradually adapt and prepare for a fully cookieless future.

“It’s a strategic move to ensure a smooth and effective transition for all stakeholders in the digital advertising landscape.”

Sean-Adams-brand-metricsSean Adams, CMO, Brand Metrics

“Well, the moment we never thought would arrive has finally come: The beginning of the end of the third-party cookie.

“Although only 1% of Google Chrome users will be affected initially, by the end of the year all Chrome users will exist in the same cookie-free state.

“Famously, Google has been signalling the end of the cookie for (literally) years, yet, unbelievably, it looks like many in the digital advertising world will have been caught short in their preparations for the cull.

“It is hard to tell why that is, but a general confusion surrounding effective tracking alternatives seems a popular excuse.

“The privacy sandbox offers potential solutions to advertisers looking for campaign measurement solutions beyond the third-party cookie, but other privacy-centric solutions are likely to come to the surface also.

“Having been developed in a GDPR world, Brand Metrics has been focused on measuring campaign effect via methods such as first-party cookies and logged in users since 2018 and have thus built up valuable learnings ahead of the post cookie world.”

Travis Clinger, LiveRampTravis Clinger, Chief Connectivity & Ecosystem Officer, LiveRamp 

“We welcome the 1% third-party cookie deprecation in Google’s Chrome, as we’ve been ready for the signal-less future for some time, and are excited to continue helping our partners, customers, and stakeholders on their journeys to signal-less.

“Companies that make the switch today have the benefit of selecting from tried-and-true solutions like LiveRamp’s Authenticated Traffic Solution (ATS) that have been proven to meet a global standard, generate value, and become a sustainable part of their marketing stacks.

“Furthermore, implementing these solutions can lead to immediate benefits in both Google Chrome and cookieless browsers, but also beyond to mobile in-app and CTV, all while also enabling companies to test and benchmark while the cookie still exists today.”

alvaro_pastor_EXTE-1Alvaro Pastor, CMO at EXTE

“The long-feared cookie deprecation is, in fact, a significant opportunity for publishers to utilise new technology that will help them build better relationships with brands and monetise their content without the need for cookies.

“Contextual advertising, in particular, will be massive for publishers, as it will improve the vertical reach of their media and, therefore, their attract-ability for brands.

“Likewise, contextual targeting enables advertisers to reach audiences at scale across premium inventory without breaching user privacy.

“Contextual tools, combined with advanced socio-demographics, both predictive or from the publisher’s first-party data, will allow brands to advertise not just against high-quality, relevant content but also to know they’re reaching the right audience.

“This will be a significant revenue driver for publishers as the cookie disappears. And by serving precision-targeted, non-intrusive ads, publishers can improve their readers’ experience so that with contextual advertising, everyone wins..except the cookie.”

Simon-Reed-multilocalSimon Reed, CRO, Multilocal

“The great shift to privacy as standard is evolving data collection and activation, as well as the demise of the cookie, it is an opportunity for advertisers and ad technology to do more and better.

“Whilst there are complications which come from change, there is huge potential for the proper use and monetisation of data to add value to publishers, brands, and consumers.

“There is a focus on Google as they have the lion’s share of advertising dollar, however there has been for some time, online environments devoid of cookies e.g. Apple, Safari etc, which have paved the way for testing new data methodologies and strategies.

“Curation provides a deliberate way of maximising the effectiveness of consented data, delivering audience signals via a pmp to reduce leakage, thus benefiting advertisers and their customers.

“The application of data on the supply side generates scale, delivering more of the audiences’ advertisers want, and offers an easy way of transcending data providers and IDs, which have varying methodologies, to find the best route to those audiences.

“There is vast opportunity for advertisers and adtech to grasp change and develop new models to maximise addressability, outside of Google’s potential self-serving solution and beyond their walls.”

Elliot-Hill-VeraViews.jpgElliot Hill, CMO, VeraViews

“It’s an unfortunate truth, but crime is rife across the world of programmatic advertising. In fact, VeraView believes that ad fraud is going to be a $100 billion global problem by as soon as 2025.

“As with many elements of the advertising ecosystem the cookie, which Google has finally begun to phase out, is also susceptible to criminal activity. Cookie stuffing, as it’s elegantly known, is used by fraudulent affiliate marketers to say they have sent traffic to a website when the opposite is true.

“As an advertising solution built on the open ledger, VeraViews exists to counter this kind of behaviour by offering ad fraud prevention through a proprietary technology called proof of view (POV), which is based on the blockchain.

“Our solution stores an advertising campaign’s performance data (viewability, IP addresses and a host of other metrics) on the open ledger, which is tamper-proof and privacy-safe.

Dr-Jochen-SchlosserJochen Schlosser, Chief Technology Officer, Adform

“Finally, Google is pulling the trigger on the phase-out of cookies. This process has been dragging on for too long and it is finally time to start.

“The sampled approach allows everyone participating in the tests to evaluate the supported advertising use cases and the results in a statistically solid way.

“However, crucial use cases are missing and, as a result, it’s hard to imagine that Sandbox can be the future of a holistic approach towards Programmatic Advertising.”

“In general, the Sandbox approach will likely create more power for large platforms, the ones that have access to scaled first-party data.

“This will ultimately help (very) large platforms. Small and midsized publishers will likely be forced to collaborate with these platforms to stay relevant.

“If this is the outcome, it also needs to be regulated, as the Internet should stay a place that offers a level playing field for all parties involved.

“Brands should try to stay open to testing the Sandbox to evaluate its performance, however given we are already in 2024, they should be massively investing in ID-based solutions.

“These solutions will prevail independent of the Sandbox test results as they are closing the gaps which Sandbox can’t fulfill, connected to brand advertising, reach and frequency controls.”

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