The seismic impact of Google doing away with third-party cookies by 2022 has caused a panic among digital marketers. While Google Chrome isn’t the first browser to remove these intrusive snips of code, it is by far the largest, sparking fierce debate over the tech giant’s motivations for restricting third-party sites’ ability to collect data on user browsing histories to inform strategies like retargeting.
As Google rolls out bits and pieces of its Privacy Sandbox plan, including an AI-powered FLoC system, in which users are grouped into similar cohorts to protect their privacy, the digital advertising industry braces for a paradigm shift that will change how marketers reach and interpret online consumer behavior.
There will be winners and losers here as publishers scramble to get first-party data and advertisers reassess their media plans. But one of the biggest winners to come out of the post-cookie world should be ResTech.
What is ResTech?
ResTech is an abbreviation for research technology, a broad umbrella term that encompasses companies ranging from traditional market research firms that utilize technology to gather their data to online marketplaces in which panel respondents are bought and sold. The unifying component here is the respondent. Every ResTech company directly or indirectly interacts with consumers, sharing their opinion either qualitatively or quantitatively online.
How ResTech Benefits
Because ResTech is synonymous with first-party data, the ResTech industry is uniquely positioned to guide digital marketers through this transition. While Google will allow marketers to target cohorts through FLoC communities, we don’t know how specifically they will be able to target. Using this strategy certainly won’t be as robust as third-party cookies, which gave a 360-degree view of a user’s online activities.
This is where ResTech comes in. Research technology firms have first-party data ranging from primary demographic data such as household income, race, ethnicity, gender, and location, to psychographic information like values, perceptions of success, and political beliefs.
It can be argued that ResTech has more robust data than cookies could ever provide. Cookies only give us a “what” consumers are doing view, versus ResTech’s potential to give us the “why” consumers are doing what they do.
Over the years, third-party cookies have given marketers a treasure trove of data on consumers, providing a reasonably accurate baseline for their behavior. But 2020 happened and disrupted cultural and ritualistic norms. There will likely be a global reset as we shift to a “new” normal in consumer habits. So maybe cookies would have fallen by the wayside even if Google hadn’t decided to sunset them. Longitudinal data is now meaningless given the stark new realities we face.
But ResTech provides hope for digital marketers looking for new ways to understand consumers and better target them online.