Google is bidding farewell to third-party cookies for its Chrome web browser over the next two years. It was a matter of time before this happened and the ad tech industry has been preparing and discussing solutions for some time. Examples of how the industry is gearing up for this change include the IAB-led Unified ID, an ecosystem around first-party data identifiers, and relevance of content based on contextual data. There are strong engineering and technology capabilities within ad tech to build and democratize such solutions, provided Google is willing to be a collaborator.
The unsurprising move by Google to eventually phase out third-party cookies has minimal impact on The Hub, our enterprise advertising software. The product architecture of The Hub aggregates and integrates industry-leading platforms. This lets us rely on identity solutions that are currently being adapted or will be adapted in the future, allowing us to be part of the solution ecosystem. The Hub’s team remains actively involved in industry bodies such as the IAB for real solutions on identity.
There’s also the fact that Google has its Privacy Sandbox API, a proposed set of privacy-focused web standards that lets advertisers target and measure campaigns. The potential behind the Privacy Sandbox is of huge interest to ad tech vendors, mainly due to the fact that it is still a proposal. It is essentially an open invitation for ad tech vendors to come together and standardize identifiers, including conversion measurement and interest-based advertising. The Hub, as an enterprise advertising software, is heavily driven by a similar vision to unify and standardize the industry from a technology perspective.
Chrome, like every other web browser such as Safari and Firefox, is essentially a gateway to the world wide web. Setting both first-party and third-party cookies have been a means of identifying consumers’ browsing habits. From the advertiser perspective, cookies have allowed brands to deliver relevant content catered to consumer interests.
Taking away third-party cookies from Chrome might seem like a monopolistic approach by Google to force advertisers to rely heavily on their first-party data. But let’s not forget that there’s a two-year timeline for affected parties to react accordingly. There are of course checks in place in the form of anti-competitive regulations enforced by industry watchdogs that will hopefully keep Google in line.
The removal or blocking of third-party cookies might assist in vastly improving the uncontrolled “sync” and “firing” of pixels, that comes at the expense of the user’s browser and time. In the short term, unprepared industry players might see challenges in re-tagging or re-identifying consumers for relevant content. But this could lead to standardization in identity and consequently in API’s across the industry players. A future state, in the event that we end up with more than a few ecosystems of identifies for each consumer/consumer browser, should not look any different than local number portability for phone numbers, where moving your identity with consent is fluid, flexible and optimistic.
Whatever happens, The Hub will continuously evolve to support any form of automated media buying and will be in the best position to be ready for changes that come with the shifting ecosystem.
Ganga Chirravuri is the Chief Technology Officer at CtrlShift and architect of the company’s industry leading enterprise advertising platform, The Hub. He is passionate about software’s role in adding true value to brands and solving real business problems. In his spare time, the avid sports fan is serious about good coffee.
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