Back to Basics is a Think with Google Canada series where Google experts explore digital marketing best practices.
People who work in digital media are in the midst of unprecedented change. Third-party cookies, which collect and aggregate consumer data from a variety of websites or platforms, have been deprecated by several browsers over the years. Chrome will deprecate them in 2022, (Editor’s note: This timeline has been extended.) due to an evolving privacy landscape.
Third-party cookies currently power a lot of online advertising and measurement solutions. This means marketers are preparing now to be ready — like a car putting the blinkers on 20 blocks before making the turn.
To get ahead of these changes, advertisers must rethink and adapt their current strategies and create new ones for first-party data, the data collected by your business with consent from consumers. While change can be scary, it can also present an opportunity to do things better. Here are five ways to go back to the basics of privacy and lay the foundation for a first-party data strategy.
Learn privacy marketing language
The privacy landscape is remarkably confusing. Inconsistent terminology often leads to inconsistent understanding of impact. For instance, the word “privacy” can mean many different things to different people, such as regulation, browser changes, or even concern about being “spied on.” The entire topic of privacy is overflowing with nuances and caveats. Work with your partners and peers to ensure you’re aligned on the definitions you’re using.
Understand your current mix of audience tactics
The first step to preparing for the future is understanding the present. It’s important to know where you are so you can shift to where you want to be. Right now, marketers and agencies should be looking at their current mix of advertising tactics to assess what percentage of digital media investment currently relies on third-party cookies. Pulling reports is a great way to get a bird’s-eye view, but they won’t tell the whole story. Marketers should engage their partners in conversations to demystify hidden areas of vulnerability.
For instance, did you know that some first-party data is powered by third-party cookies? Talking to your partners can help you understand whether the first-party data you're collecting includes any third-party cookies, and how to move forward.
Build a 2022 migration roadmap now
It’s not necessary to make all the changes now, you just need to know where strategies are going. Marketers should be focusing on preparing and experimenting in the present, to be ready for 2022. It’s like living in a house and knowing you’ll be making a major renovation in the future. Make a plan and map current tactics to their closest future analogs.
For example, Google is working with the industry on a number of approaches in the Privacy Sandbox, which is a set of open standards to fundamentally enhance privacy on the web. Two of these are known as FLEDGE and FLoC. Display remarketing can be mapped to the "First Locally-Executed Decision over Groups Experiment" (FLEDGE). Interest-based reach can be mapped to the "Federated Learning of Cohorts" (FLoC.)
Experiment with new ways to reach customers
First-party data can inform interesting applications of dayparting, reaching people by location, and contextual tactics — all things that were considered less shiny in the past, but are now known to drive great performance. Brainstorm ways to craft campaigns around first-party data, and have conversations with creative partners about ideas and opportunities.
Research and stay in-the-know
Now that you’ve assessed vulnerability, built a roadmap and tested new tactics, remember that the space is constantly evolving. Staying up-to-date on how the industry is evolving can provide a lot of clarity into how tried-and-true tactics will be able to persist in a way that’s inherently privacy-safe.
Read industry blog posts and third-party explainers and reach out to trusted partners for ongoing education sessions. Keep tabs on their point of views and Think with Google’s privacy section to better understand how the landscape will evolve. Google believes Privacy Sandbox will build a set of standards that will maintain marketing use cases in a privacy safe way.
Contextual methods like page level categories, or Keyword Contextual reach, have always provided alternative paths to performance, though they’ve never gotten the same spotlight. Work with partners now to understand the basics of privacy, prepare for the year ahead and test tactics that have been less of a priority in the past. Doing so will help you to be ready for a future without third-party cookies.