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Google’s Private Web Browsing Promise Takes Shape; Embrace a “Cookie-free” Economy by 2022

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Apple Safari was the first browser to implement ITP. Firefox had also decided to block third-party cookies. Now, Google Chrome is expected to follow these browsers by rendering third-party cookies obsolete. 

By 2023, Google Chrome will secure its web browsing technology, banning third-party cookies from accessing user’s browsing history. There were speculations last year after Google announced its Privacy Sandbox initiative to develop a set of open standards for enhanced user privacy on the web.

Google’s monopoly on web browsing technology remains unchallenged, yet it is often found answering to regulators how it pursues an ID and how it manages and prevents user data from falling into evil hands. Since Sundar Pichai took over the mantle of Alphabet’s Chief, we did expect him to tackle this challenging task and transform Google into a privacy-driven economy, rendering third-party cookies absolutely obsolete.

Google’s Private Web Browsing Technology Focused More at Online User’s Intent and Less at Driving Ad Sales!

In our countless interviews with Adtech leaders, we’ve learned how Adtech and MarTech platforms are merging to provide a brand’s real CRM. We skipped the beat around “silent tracking”, which is also used by various Marketing Technology platforms to monitor the customer-activities online.

According to Jivox, marketing technology platforms use third-party cookies—often without consent—to identify users and their preferences. Such data is then packaged and sold to brands, leveraged for ad targeting and content customization. In recent years, increasing consumer outrage and privacy concerns have driven web browsers to take aggressive steps to disable the collection of data without user consent.

We’ve studied Google’s Privacy Sandbox initiative.

It is a novel initiative favoring the recent trend of meeting customer experience by understanding their current intent and not merely targeting them based on their historical browsing patterns. The centerpiece of this initiative is “data privacy and security”.

Adtech economy would now have to learn and understand Google’s opaque techniques, including fingerprinting and unique identity authentication and access.

But, will the ad revenue fall?

According to Google, ad funding for publishers falls by 52% on average when advertising is made less relevant by removing cookies.

That’s why we saw ad blocking techniques getting smashed all over the park in the last 5 years, and with GDPR and CCPA taking shape, the cookie-free economy only makes sense today.

Will Web Browsing Safety Endanger the Future of a “Vibrant Web”?

Google, through its official blog, acknowledged that they have “received positive feedback in forums like the W3C”. The company is positive about collaborating with Adtech players and embracing their technologies to deliver a safer, more relevant ad experience to users.

Google has already built a roadmap to “phase out Flash and NPAPI, which has proven that Google can come together to solve complex challenges.”

Here’s what the industry leaders had to say about Google’s web browsing announcement.

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Time to Embrace Seismic Change in Google-based Adtech Economy

Adam Solomon CMO at Lotame said,

“The real question is whether Google’s actions will speak louder than its words, namely all good actors being given equal opportunity to leverage this tech similarly without undue advantage given to Google in the process.

As an independent data solutions provider, we want to work with everyone, and we do work with everyone. As long as Google is committed to open collaboration, we’re more than happy to participate and help our marketer, brand, and agency clients navigate this path. Over the last 13 years, we’ve had a front-row seat to and participated in seismic changes to how data is collected, connected, and permission-ed across devices and platforms. We’ve adjusted at every turn and enabled new data-driven capabilities on behalf of our clients. This situation is no different.”

Lotame is one of the ad industry’s largest data solutions providers.

Read Also: Achieving MarTech & AdTech Success – Digital Agencies Need the Right IT Infrastructure

Moving the Entire Advertising Infrastructure into Google Cloud

In reaction to Google’s announcement today to remove third-party cookies in Chrome within two years’ time, ad exchange OpenX shared their insights with us as part of their AdTech Predictions.

The OpenX spokesperson said, “We (at OpenX) have been preparing for this change over the past 18 months. We have been working with our publisher partners on identity solutions that support ad relevance in a privacy-compliant way, and enable people-based marketing on an open web that no longer uses third party cookies. We have partnered with Google since the inception of our company [in 2008] and expanded that partnership in 2019 when we moved our entire infrastructure into the Google Cloud. We look forward to partnering with them to help map out the next generation of relevant, valuable advertising for the open web.”

First-Party Cookies From YOUTUBE Will Be Unaffected by This Change

The privacy sandbox runoff will rearrange the deck chairs that Adtech providers and agencies sit on.

Matt Keiser, Founder, and CEO of LiveIntent (people-based email marketing technology platform) said, “The approach is quite brilliant in that it appears Google will hold themselves to the same standard as the industry, however, we shouldn’t be naive. For Google, and YouTube are where the majority of their money comes from, and first-party cookies from YouTube will be unaffected by this change.”

He added, “In this new world, companies like Facebook, Amazon, and Google will continue to thrive because they continue to have access to first-party data.

However, you know who else has access to first-party data? Anyone who drives audiences to their websites: Publishers and advertisers. If entities with audiences are smart and willing to work together with their first-party data, they’ll finally be able to mount a defense against the triopoly (Facebook, Google, and Amazon) and own their own destinies.”

The agencies and Adtech providers and those who have been mastering third-party data will lose their privileged position in this new world. You used to have the power if you sat across many publishers and brands like an agency or an Adtech provider but now: it’s the first-party data owner who chooses whether to share. If they choose not to and don’t work together, Google, Facebook, and Amazon will win. The privacy sandbox runoff will rearrange the deck chairs that Adtech providers and agencies sit on.

Ways to Accelerate Adoption for Programmatic Advertising in a Transparent Ecosystem

Keith Pieper, VP Product Operations, Sovrn, said, “Google’s decision to drop third-party cookies is expected, though clarifying a timeline was refreshing. Forward-thinking advertisers are already relying on first-party publisher data more than third-party cookies. They know publishers have close relationships with their audiences and are therefore in a good position when it comes to data collection and gaining consent from users. Now advertisers have a countdown clock when those transitions to first-party data need to be complete.”

Keith added, “The latest Chrome announcement should accelerate adoption for programmatic advertising to evolve and transact in more consumer-friendly, transparent ways. More important, it will push advertisers to partner with vendors that have direct access to first-party data, ensuring compliance with privacy regulations and prioritizing consumer-first practices.”

Publishers Will Find It Increasingly Difficult to Effectively Monetize Their AD Inventory

Simon Burgess, Head of Publisher Strategy at LiveRamp, said, “As cheesy as it may sound, 2020 is shaping up to be the year of identity. Marketers are becoming increasingly engaged with trying to understand what this means to them, and how they should be incorporating a notion of identity into their business strategy. Across conferences this year, we’ve noticed heightened engagement from significant, game-changing brands.

With the expected introduction of cookie restrictions on Chrome in February, publishers will find it increasingly difficult to effectively monetize their ad inventory. We’ll see a number of solutions being developed that will enable publishers and media owners to take advantage of their first-party data and offer brands targeting capabilities – even across cookieless inventory.

Next year, the collaboration will be key in order for publishers to claw back some of the spend currently flowing the way of Google and Facebook. We’ll see an increase in publisher consortia such as the Ozone Project, and identity co-ops such as the NetID foundation, that offer the kind of scale in both inventory and data that brands need to justify moving budgets their way.

Finally, for all businesses, a transparent approach to gathering consumer consent will be crucial if they are to make the most of what is sure to become their most vital asset in 2020.”

Diaz Nesamoney, Founder and CEO, Jivox said – “Google finally announced the demise of the third-party cookies. At Jivox, we have firmly and passionately believed consumer data belongs to the consumers. We also see that consumers demand relevant ad and marketing content and for these, they give explicit consent to brands to personalize consumer experiences. We have always embraced–proactively – privacy efforts, with the recent announcement of IQiD, a first-party identity graph using hybrid cloud technology that operates within a brand’s domain with consented user data. This is a solution that does not rely on third-party cookies or fingerprinting. As an advocate of consumer privacy, Jivox was also the first in the market to have implemented GDPR in our platform and contributed to the open-source world on GDPR TCF v2 project and GDPR consent decoder in Java maintained by IAB tech lab. The next step for the market as a whole is to proactively protect consumer privacy while delivering personalization at scale.”

Future of Web Browsing: Will Fingerprinting Tracking End with Google Chrome’s Announcement?

Fingerprinting technology (also called Browser fingerprinting or digital fingerprinting) has served many corporate entities. This continues, even as Adtech and Marketing technology companies are joining forces to gather customer data from various online and offline channels.

A unique fingerprint of each user is created by collating information from installed plugins, apps, and updated browser versions.

Mozilla had explained how digital fingerprint works for web browsers. A fingerprint, a unique identifier, is made up of tiny bits of your personal data.

According to Mozilla,

Digital Fingerprint is a tracking technique capable of identifying individual users based on their browser and device settings. In order for websites to display correctly, your browser makes certain information available about your device, including your screen resolution, operating system, location, and language settings. These details essentially make up the ridges of your digital fingerprint.

Google’s Next Step to Make AdTech Trustworthy

Saurabh Bhatia, CEO of Chocolate Platform predicts that a majority of the current Programmatic advertising budgets will be moving to server-side technology.

Saurabh said, “We see leading publishers allocating a chunk of inventory to server-side auctions as it offers viable benefits like reduced latency, shortest supply chain path (cornerstone to achieving SPO) by removing navigation via client-side/header wrappers and easy implementation.”

CEO of Chocolate Platform also expects a reduction in digital ad fraud. He said, “Collaborative and large-scale adoption of IAB‘s new initiatives like Sellers.json, OpenRTB Supply Chain Object, combined with TAG’s (Trustworthy Accountability Group) anti-fraud certifications for all stakeholders involved in the digital supply chain has already started yielding results. Digital Ad Fraud was down by 11% in 2019 compared to previous years and is set to further decrease in 2020.”

All recent positive announcements will have an impact on digital ad revenues as ad tech players decipher the right strategy to create a balance that enables advertisers to target the right audience without compromising any personal consumer data.

In an attempt to regularize how Adtech firms collect and use data, Google has done its best. And by 2023, we would see online surveillance getting safer, regulated to truly deliver check-free web browsing (unless the user is delving into cybercrime or anti-social activities) experience, free not only from the clutches of unwarranted ads but also from the influence of politics, society, and culture.

(To share your insights on Google Chrome’s cookieless economy, please write to us at news@martechseries.com)

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