Google’s cookie delay wasn’t a surprise, so can we get on with industry evolution now?

The Drum 05 Jul 2021 09:00
By Oliver Vaughan-July 5, 2021

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Everyone might be shocked by the sudden extension of the third-party cookie, but no one is all that surprised.

Following antitrust lawsuits and scrutiny from the UK Competition and Markets Authority, it was clear Google’s Privacy Sandbox proposals weren’t going to pass muster well before the latest EU Commission enquiry landed. There was also the matter of potentially unacceptable conflict with GDPR rules that has seen Floc trials delayed in Europe.

Google’s announcement also wasn’t uncharacteristic, with the delay presented as giving the wider online community space to develop better web privacy standards at a responsible pace, instead of buying time to shore up its own preparations. The real wonders lie elsewhere.

Google isn’t the only changemaker

This clearly isn’t news, but the point is that cookies have long been on the way out and many players will continue to limit applications alongside other workaround trackers, regardless of Google’s temporary pause – especially the likes of Mozilla and Apple.

Use bonus time wisely

As they look to ramp up collection and implementation, however, it will be important to use the gift of extra time wisely. Instead of rushing to collect as much data as possible, they have room to conduct a full audit: including mapping first-party data assets, and how much spend and performance currently depends on third-party data.

After holes in data stores are identified, the wisest step is maintaining an even focus on plugging immediate gaps and laying the foundations for future-proof success. As well as connecting with consumers to fuel greater trust and data sharing, brands and agencies should harness the extended countdown to build a robust technical infrastructure that will enable them to blend, cleanse and activate incoming first-party data on a consistent basis – such as adopting a customer data platform (CDP) or integrating API connectors with their stack.

The industry tendency to lean heavily on cookies had multiple negative impacts. One of the best known is, of course, fueling high consumer anxiety that has led four in five to increase online privacy safeguards and a further 40% to delete their browsing history entirely.

Amid the ongoing march away from cookie trackers, these outmoded methods must be retired now – not only after the Google curtain finally falls. Putting stronger emphasis on creative will be paramount to cut through the digital noise and, most critically, earn user confidence and keep the gates to first-party data open.

Whatever the actual reasons behind Google’s decision, it doesn’t mean advances so far have been in vain or that they should also come to an abrupt halt. The true waste of time is considering this stay of execution as an excuse to slow down and relax.

Or in other words: learning from Google’s failed preparation and getting on with it.

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GoogleUK Competition and Markets AuthorityEU CommissionGDPRMozilla
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