What the Death of the Third-Party Cookie Means for Marketers

Google has announced they will be phasing out third-party cookies over the next two years. In this video, Augurian’s Derrick Turner sits down with Analytics Manager Megan Upperman, who breaks down how this major change might affect your customer data and what you can do now to prepare.

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Video Transcription:

Derrick Turner: Hi, everybody. I’m Derrick Turner, Director of Services from Augurian, and I am here today with Megan.

Megan Upperman: Hi, I’m Megan the Analytics Manager.

Derrick: Today, we’re going to be talking about Google’s announcement that they’re going to phasing out third-party cookies over the next two years. Megan, I know this is going to have a big impact in terms of web analytics. I’m interested, just in general, can you give us a high-level overview of what is about to happen here?

Megan: Sure. Basically what’s happening is Google owns the Chrome browser. The Chrome browser is going to phase out support for third-party cookies. That means anything that doesn’t come directly from the website that you’re currently on won’t be working anymore. So over the next two years, they’ll phase out support for things like that. Things that would enable things like retargeting or other types of advertising capabilities that are really commonplace to make use of.

Right now, there are other browsers that exist that have already phased out the support for those cookies as well, so this is really Google taking that step to meet the rest of the crowd where they’re at. Even though they do have a significantly larger market share, it’s going to have just a much bigger impact than it did when these other browsers made those changes.

Derrick: Can you give us some high-level numbers just as far as the size of the scope of this?

Megan: Definitely. It looks a little bit different between the desktop and the mobile landscape, but in either case, Chrome has over 60% of the total market share. Most of the other browsers that are out there on desktop– For example, Firefox and Safari do have that small share. They’re under 10% really of the total users that are interacting through those browsers. But when we look at the mobile devices, Safari, that currently has one of the strictest cookie policies out there, maintains about 30% of the mobile market share.

Derrick: In terms of point of view of how this will impact attribution in the future, you have some thoughts as far as things companies should be doing in the short and medium-term to get ahead of this.

Megan: I do, yes. It seems to me like this is going to have a really big impact. Exactly which areas of advertising in our tracking capabilities that’s going to touch looks a little different based on whose predictions you’re looking at. Again, not to be an alarmist because there is a lot of money at stake here, there’s a lot of people participating in the digital advertising economy, I would expect whatever solution comes after this will help us maintain some similar functionalities, but ideally, with more user privacy attached to them.

So my thoughts as far as what impact we’re going to have today; I think the most logical thing to do next is to start segmenting out your users that access your website by the types of browsers they’re using. We dropped a few links below this video that go through the details of how these different browsers have different settings and process things differently. Because it’s likely that the users aren’t behaving much differently from browser to browser. But what is going to be really different is how things are measured from browser to browser.

I would say, to get out ahead of this, we’ve got a full two-year warning. I would start segmenting your users by browser now.

Derrick: Yes, that sounds really smart.

Megan: What do you think is going to be the biggest impact that it will have as far as advertising tech?

Derrick: Sure. That’s a great question. In general, I see this impacting programmatic advertisers, who essentially exchange inventory and are on the buy-sell side of that, the most. Where Augurian typically spends the majority of its dollars, probably really won’t be affected. A lot of the actual targeting capabilities live within Facebook, live within Google. So by and large, the majority of our spend won’t necessarily be impacted right away or even in two years on this, but some of the outlying edge tech [unintelligible 00:03:59] we use especially around driving awareness and prospecting, likely will.

Megan: Yes, I think that makes a lot of sense. It will be really interesting to see how these things evolve. My big prediction for what’s going to happen next is I expect to see a lot more really creative solutions coming out of people working at these various companies and agencies that are working on these advertising programs. You probably heard from us plenty of times about closed-loop analytics. Derrick and I are both really interested and involved in that process, but I would say what’s interesting about how we run our closed-loop program is that we essentially rely only on first-party cookies. We never transport that personally identifiable information anywhere that’s not safe.

That stays in the CRM where it should be, where it belongs and where you can keep close track on it. So, I expect to see similar functionalities out there, but I hope that individual contributors are able to rise to the need of users who really want more privacy. Because at the end of the day, this is a balancing act for Google. They need to balance what users want, which is privacy; what websites need, which is advertisers; and what advertisers need, which is the targeting capability to serve effective ads.

Derrick: It’s interesting that you mentioned that. I know one browser in particular that has seen quite a bit of growth is Brave. Which really, I think in terms of what we’re seeing where the rules of the road are fundamentally changing, Brave has a totally different model. That actually, in fact, rewards consumers for opting in to see advertising, and otherwise, will basically block all other forms of advertising with their ad-blocking technology, which I think is just fascinating.

I know as far as advertising, we’ve done some tests on there. We’ve seen some relative success, but it’ll be really interesting just to see how advertisers engage with publishers as that particular model chooses to grow, and whether consumers start to shift en masse to publishers who are, in fact, going to reward them for the advertising dollars that they generate.

Megan: Yes, I think so. What I really see as interesting about that browser is it puts the user in control of what they want to do with their data and what they would like their experience to be. Because I think most of us recognize there’s a trade-off between a customized experience and providing a little data to the people on the other end. I think it really is interesting to see the parallels between things like GDPR and CCPA and a browser like that having a really big future ahead of them. Because at the end of the day, what people really want is to be in control of their information.

Derrick: I think with the mention of those laws, just setting some foundational guidelines for the industry. Along with the Google rollout, I feel like the main message that I feel people need to know as a result of this change is; what’s working for you today might not work for you in two years. That you should really be thinking about what those impacts are going to be now in order to get ahead of that. There’s a bunch of new models that are out there. Testing them is always something that we recommend. Being an early-adopter never really hurts.

Hopefully, this was informative. Maybe it sparks some new ideas for you as it relates to data and your company. If you ever want to chat, we’re going to be monitoring the situation over here, the gearing over the next few years, and we love to just have open conversations about where this could potentially go and how it relates to your business.

Megan: Definitely. Feel free to check out the links for resources that we provide below the video. Thanks.

Derrick: Thanks.


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