Orlando, FL — Another week and another user-privacy driven update in the Digital Marketing world. Yesterday, Google announced that after they officially kill off third-party cookies, they are, “making explicit that once third-party cookies are phased out, we will not build alternate identifiers to track individuals as they browse across the web, nor will we use them in our products”.
This “new” information did not take us by surprise, as Google and other media partners previously made it clear that their intention was to completely abolish tracking via third-party cookies. Third party cookies have served as the primary method of cross-site, behavioral tracking – providing programmatic media partners to serve highly targeted ads to granular audiences/personas.
Yesterday’s announcement by Google stated that they will no longer be selling ads based on individual user data, which taken at face value, sounds like a potentially apocalyptic shift in audience building and targeting. Audience profiles and targeting done on a deterministic basis (1:1 user profiling) will no longer be available within Google Ads (with the exception of Customer Match done through email list uploads).
Tracking across the web in the imminent future will be handled by what Google is calling “privacy-preserving APIs.” These APIs will enable audience-centric advertising by algorithmically creating groups of users with similar interests/behaviors. While deterministic profiling will be going away, it will be augmented by probabilistic audience building conducted by the publisher by use of aggregated web data. Doing away with individual user tracking also serves to decrease the liability associated with relying on tactics that may be ruled ultimately impossible across all platforms and browsers in the future; and potentially more importantly at this time, will in all likelihood increase the trust and comfort level of web users when it comes to interacting with, and converting from advertising.
Although this specific change from Google will not have a tangible impact on Google Search or Youtube advertising, when viewed in accordance with industry privacy shifts as a whole, it further underscores the importance of first-party data when planning and executing any digital marketing strategy.