Part II: Cookieless Chrome, GA4, and the Privacy Sandbox Prepare to Shift the Advertising Landscape
Google has a problem. And when Google has a problem, we all have a problem. The company’s perennial position in the crosshairs of global regulators is leading it to implement some massive changes in 2023–24: changes that include the deprecation of third-party cookies from the Chrome browser; the sunsetting of Universal Analytics (UA) in favour of Analytics 4 (GA4); and the full-scale rollout of its controversial Privacy Sandbox APIs.
The combined effects of these sweeping changes are anyone’s guess, and there is little consensus among marketers and software specialists as to the best methods for approaching them. Some are choosing to embrace Google’s vision of a cookieless world, developing analytics strategies that are consistent with the GA4 architecture, and the opportunities presented by the Sandbox initiative. Others, meanwhile, are looking for alternative solutions, pointing out the issues with Google’s new web standards, and looking to establish a route of their own.
Google Chrome has a global browser market share of 65.58%, serving as the primary browser of more than 2.65 billion web users. When support for third-party cookies is eventually dropped, advertisers will immediately lose the ability to effectively track the online behaviour of this huge audience in the ways they did before.
As a result, 44% of marketers feel they will need to increase ad spend by 5% to 25% to hit the same KPIs they did previously, as carefully refined and precise targeting strategies become obsolete in an instant. The alternative for advertisers that wish to continue to effectively track consumer behaviour, is to look towards new technologies and segmentation strategies to deliver personalised content.
Ineffective tracking will unquestionably impact the ease with which advertisers can retarget audiences across the customer journey, as will the rollout of GA4. At present, third-party cookies allow for effective segmentation of audiences; with GA4, however, segments are replaced with “audiences”. These audiences are based on aggregated Google signals rather than third-party cookies. The problem is, they only apply to signed-in Google users, and only to those users who have consented to remarketing.
Larger brands with existing first-party data vaults will be able to draw upon this information to achieve results similar to that they did previously. However, smaller organisations, and those yet to implement a first-party strategy, will need to look towards fresher tools for deploying targeted creative across the sales funnel.
The team at RTB House have developed a number of solutions for personalised ad displays with a range of scenario-based customer journey tools that allow brands to serve effective creatives automatically and without consumer data.
Most significantly, the company has already designed and fully implemented product-level and outcome-based methods that utilise the Turtledove API proposal put forth by the Privacy Sandbox. These solutions address the privacy challenges of 2023 and beyond, allowing marketers to display relevant product recommendations, dynamically optimise their creative units, and preserve user experience personalisation in a way that “almost [mirrors] the current state”.
Corvidae’s analytics platform is built to replace cookie-based attribution with AI. Its proprietary Visit-Level Attribution model unifies first-party cookie data silos, obtaining data at a granular level and utilising it to build a broad—and, more importantly, accurate—picture of a customer’s journey.
For businesses, this means having the ability to see which channels and touchpoints are most effective at driving conversions, without needing to rely on cookies. It also means less marketing spend wasted on ineffective targeting and attribution models.