As advertising executives seek answers to Google’s delay in its phaseout of third-party tracking cookies in the Chrome browser, one thing that most agree on is that it allows more time for companies to improve their strategies and attract more partners as well as to conduct tests and do more testing.
Google is one of the largest companies offering ad services, with revenue reported by its parent company Alphabet of $55.3 billion in the first quarter of 2021.
Despite the delay in rolling out Federated Learning of Cohorts (FLoC) until 2023, marketers were anxious to share their opinions on the uncertain outcome.
"I’m personally excited about it, because I know that context in congruence with content works,” said Bryon Schafer, senior vice president of research at Vevo, a premium music video provider. “It’s been easy for marketers to pivot away and chase these types of buying and optimization strategies that targeting and retargeting affords. It almost reminds of me in many ways of the industry chasing clicks against display ads for so long.”
Identity resolution solutions in modeling that have made tremendous improvements, he said.
“When you build something like FLoC, you’re creating standards,” he said. “When you work with standards you can lose the granularity. … But quite frankly, that’s the idea.”
Schafer believes that standards like FLoC will eventually become a foundation that individual marketers, media companies, and publishers will seek out to layer on top. Identity resolution will allow for 90% of the profiling that Facebook, Google, or Amazon would report to do, he said.
“I’m really encouraged by the industry moving away from cookies, and thinking about how long-term brand building and lower-funnel activation should work hand in hand,” he said.
Google’s decision to delay the removal of third-party cookies until it can ensure the technology works is a strategic move, according to some. FLoC has been plagued with skepticism, given its potential to create problems like cohort discrimination, according to Anthony Capano, North America managing director at Rakuten Advertising.
“We’re losing third-party cookies because we were irresponsible with them, and our next iteration needs to be better,” Capano said. “Any solution that comes to the market should be rooted in authentic, engaging strategies that not only give advertisers accurate access to their audiences, but also deliver the more positive ad experiences that consumers are demanding.”
Google's news also allowed some marketers to breathe a sign of relief. Companies have been working individually and collectively to create alternative identifiers to ensure performance following the loss of cookies.
These headwinds around the launch of Google FLoC will give companies more time before the loss of cookies and also improve the maturity of their identifiers, Matthew Swanson, RBC Capital Markets, wrote in a research note published Thursday.
Udayan Bose, founder and CEO, NetElixir, called Google’s delay “a practical decision, as “many of the advertisers and agencies were not too pleased” with the results they experience with FLoC.
Lindsay Forham, vice president, product at Lucid, said cookie independence is critical for the company's strategy, and still expects cookieless environments to become a majority of media tracking by 2022, especially in mobile and connected TV.
Greg Sterling, vice president of Insights at location marketing platform Uberall, believes it was beginning to seem that FLoC would be compromised from the start -- perhaps because most marketers are totally unprepared for the end of third-party cookies. Among other reasons, he says, this seems to have motivated Google’s announced delay.