Preserving privacy and performance will protect the future of advertising

Sean Downey / March 2021

Advertising has played a major role in making the internet open and accessible to all. But in order for ads to continue to earn that role, ad technology must evolve for a privacy-first world. Ads should work for everyone — publishers, advertisers, and most importantly, consumers. That's why Google has gone further on our commitment to advance user privacy, announcing that once third-party cookies are phased out, we will not build alternate identifiers to track individuals as they browse across the web, nor use them in our products.


“It is critical that the whole advertising industry work together to create and promote a privacy-safe environment for people.”

-Luis Di Como, Executive Vice President of Global Media at Unilever


“People shouldn’t have to accept being tracked across the web in order to get the benefits of relevant advertising. And advertisers don't need to track individual consumers across the web to get the performance benefits of digital advertising,” wrote David Temkin, Director of Product Management at Google, in the announcement. Advances in aggregation, anonymisation, on-device processing, and other privacy-preserving technologies show a clear path away from individual identifiers. For example, instead of ascribing interests to unique users, we now have the ability to hide individuals in large crowds of people with common interests, while still showing them relevant and useful ads. Our latest tests of the Federated Learning of Cohorts (FLoC) algorithm do just that, demonstrating what a future of advertising without third-party cookies could look like.

“It is critical that the whole advertising industry work together to create and promote a privacy-safe environment for people,” said Luis Di Como, Executive Vice President of Global Media at Unilever. “The announcement by Google is a step in the right direction to help improve consumer data privacy, and we need to continue to build many such industry-wide initiatives."


“We have long since recognised and advocated for the importance of first-party data, and it’ll become even more vital in a privacy-first world.”

-Aude Gandon, Global Chief Marketing Officer at Nestlé


Developing strong relationships with customers has always been critical to building a successful business, and this becomes even more important when it comes to preserving their trust. “We welcome this announcement from Google. We have long since recognised and advocated for the importance of first-party data, and it’ll become even more vital in a privacy-first world,” said Aude Gandon, Global Chief Marketing Officer at Nestlé. Google will continue to support first-party relationships on our ad platforms for partners, allowing them to connect directly with their own customers. And we’ll deepen our support for solutions that build on these direct relationships.


“We see this as a necessary and total restart of digital advertising which will offer a more meaningful and engaging experience with a brand throughout the customer journey.”

-John Lee, President of Merkury and Chief Product and Data Officer at Merkle


“Both marketers and consumers want better targeted ads and greater privacy protection,” said John Lee, President of Merkury and Chief Product and Data Officer at Merkle. “As the industry pivots toward first-party data, we see this as a necessary and total restart of digital advertising which will offer a more meaningful and engaging experience with a brand throughout the customer journey.”

Once third-party cookies are phased out, other ad tech providers may offer a level of user identity for ad tracking across the web that Google will not, such as PII graphs based on people’s email addresses. We don’t believe these solutions will meet rising consumer expectations for privacy or meet fast-evolving regulatory restrictions, which is why we don’t believe they are sustainable, long-term investments. Instead, our web products will be powered by privacy-preserving APIs, which prevent tracking of individuals across the web while still delivering results for advertisers and publishers. Today’s announcement is about ensuring we do not recreate the challenges of the past as we build for the future.


“We look forward to collaborating on defining the future of digital advertising and migrating advertisers into that world.”

-Sir Martin Sorrell, Founder and Executive Chairman of S4 Capital


Likewise, the industry is working to ensure advertising can thrive alongside strong consumer privacy controls, well into the future. “We've seen many forces pushing the advertising industry to change its approach to digital identity — consumers wanting more control over their privacy, lawmakers and regulators pushing the industry to respond, technology companies reacting to all these pressures,” said Sir Martin Sorrell, Founder and Executive Chairman of S4 Capital. “We support Google's approach, and we look forward to collaborating on defining the future of digital advertising and migrating advertisers into that world.”

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