Big Tech Vs. The Marketing Industry

Recent updates and innovations from the tech giants  -- while offering some benefits to consumers and marketers -- have resulted in less control for advertisers over consumer data, campaign tactics and more.  From the pros and cons that come with increased automation to the looming deprecation of cookies, marketers once again need to learn to adapt.

The increase in automation, in campaign tools like Google’s Performance Max, has undoubtedly made digital marketing campaigns easier to run and brought more opportunities for hyper-personalization. However, this automation gives marketers less strategic control and, if the campaign is not performing up to expectations, makes it difficult to see which elements aren’t working.

In June 2021, Google first announced that third-party cookies would be removed in 2023. A  series of delays pushed the timeline to “late 2024.” In mid-January of this year, Google finally began deprecating third-party cookies for 1% of Chrome users globally, preceding stated plans to put this measure into effect for 100% of Chrome users by Q2 2024.



The drawn-out timeline gives marketers additional time to plan alternate strategies, but the year of delays raises doubts over the accuracy of the announced implementation date, and there are still questions about what deprecation will actually look like.

While objections to third-party cookies -- particularly those that monitor a user’s web activity and then re-target them with ads while they’re visiting other sites -- are understandable, there are some functions that are arguably harmless to consumers but highly important to marketers. For example, one tracking function can tell a marketer that 70% of their monthly web traffic comes from, say, Facebook, allowing them to allocate future marketing dollars based on that insight. There’s been some indication that this limited type of tracking will be retained, especially for major media players, like Meta, who have adjusted how their pixel collects data in order to preserve some of that valuable information. 

One of the newest developments from Google also comes as something of a mixed bag: Demand Generation (Demand Gen) is the latest version of Discovery ads, which users might see on their YouTube feeds, Google Discover feeds, Gmail inboxes and other places.

With Demand Gen, Discovery gets a sizable, AI-focused upgrade, and video ads are now possible. Demand Gen also promises more specialized targeting, in the form of lookalike segments and device targeting, but marketers don’t get to choose where their content will show up. So, while this represents a growth opportunity, there is also more loss of control. 

This trend continues to hold, as Google announces a slew of AI-powered updates in Q1 of 2024, expanding the reach of automated assets, which can now show in place of manually created assets if Google’s AI predicts better performance.

The digital marketing landscape changes quickly, and with it, the interface between marketers and the latest tools at their disposal. While we await updates and the impact of some of these major changes, we must adapt and learn more about the levers remaining to optimize our campaigns in this AI-focused landscape.

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