The advertising industry shared mixed thoughts Wednesday about Google's news confirming that once the advertising giant phases out third-party cookies it will not build alternate identifiers to track consumers as they browse the web, or use them in its products.
“The NAI values Google’s engagement with the broader digital media industry on the future of tailored advertising,” Network Advertising Initiative President and CEO Leigh Freund wrote in an emailed statement. “We are working together to build a privacy-first internet. This is imperative, because consumers want promotions and ads that are relevant, and they demand rich digital content supported by ad revenue.”
Privacy is a shared commitment, she wrote, but it should not be used as a barrier where platforms or technology companies hold all the data about online activities.
Scott McDonald, CEO and president of the Advertising Research Foundation (ARF), doesn’t think Google’s decision will harm advertisers, “since we have decades of evidence that contextual advertising works very well – and that now [it] has become a growth area for web-based digital advertising.”
Not all agree. Gregg Johnson, CEO of Invoca, the active conversation intelligence platform, called the love for third-party data an addiction, saying that for years marketers have been "addicted to using third-party data.”
“It wasn’t because third-party data was the most effective way to reach their target customers,” he said. “It was because that data was just so easy for them to access and execute short-term campaigns.
Johnson also called Google’s announcement a “wake-up call for marketers to break their third-party data addictions and instead turn to review the data strategies within their organizations. First-party datasets are richer and more impactful when it comes to improving campaign performance. They also strengthen trust between the customer and the business.
Quantcast CEO Konrad Feldman in a statement called Google's decision to not support industry alternatives bad news for publishers and content creators, and reinforced why his company continues to champion a free and open internet.
“Nearly 5 billion people rely on the open internet for access to quality and trustworthy information, news, education and entertainment,” he wrote in a statement. “Google has again shown its willingness to degrade the relevancy of advertising on the open internet; what they are doing will benefit its cash cows of Search and YouTube, which are unaffected by this move.”
Feldman said as the open internet makes it harder to deliver effective advertising,
or even to simply measure the effectiveness of advertising, more ad dollars will pour into the coffers of the tech giants at the expense of the free, open internet.
"Adtech finally saw the other shoe drop with Google announcing it won’t use or develop alternate third-party tracking methods," said Mike Herrick, SVP of Technology at Airship. "Collectively, Apple and Google’s privacy moves leave Facebook on its own lamenting the old ways of tracking, while adtech innovators developing workarounds for third-party cookies now face a siloed future."
More important for brands, he said, today’s news means that marketers and advertisers will increasingly rely on first-party and zero-party data that customers are willingly providing. This will become key to providing great customer experiences as well as more targeted and effective advertising.
Increasingly, people spend their time in apps, so it will be interesting to see how quickly Google follows Apple’s IDFA moves to close down third-party tracking there, Herrick said.