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Google Cookie Update

Rachel Curasi, Director of Media

What we know:
Users expect personalized content directly targeted to them, but they also expect it to be coupled with transparency on what information advertisers have stored about them.

With a goal of enhanced transparency, Google announced in May at their developer conference that they will update the Chrome browser to require developers to “explicitly specify which cookies are allowed to work across websites — and could be used to track users” (source).  This change will allow users to clear cookies while leaving single domain (user login and settings) unaffected (source).

Additionally, Chrome plans to limit fingerprinting, also known as device or browser fingerprinting.  Fingerprinting is a newer technique of personalizing advertising without giving the users control over what is being targeted i.e. IP targeting and does not contain cookies (source). 

Impact on R2i & Adobe Business Affected:
Although this update does touch all active R2i digital media campaigns, R2i plans to combat it through mindful updates and optimizations to current tactics.  

Adobe’s marketing cloud products work on a marketing cloud ID. This is a unique persistent ID that identifies visitors across all solutions in the marketing cloud. While this is partially based upon cookies, configurations are set up to be based off of a Canonical Name record (CNAME) that relates to the domain to enable cross-domain tracking in browsers that do not access third-party cookies. 

Specific to Adobe Analytics, the default setting is 3rd-party cookie tracking. As a best practice, R2i always recommends to clients to configure the 1st party cookie tracking. The Chrome announcement provides R2i more backing to push the priority of the 1st party cookie configuration. 

R2i will be actively watching these updates and will adjust our approach on a client-by-client basis to ensure we are maintaining the most effective digital media targeting possible. Additionally, R2i will continue to work very closely with our Adobe and Google reps along with our other media partners to ensure any adjustments that need to be made to our campaigns and overall approach are done strategically and in a timely manner.

Overall Industry Impact: 
While there are not concrete numbers, there have been studies within the last few years that majority of users do not update their browser settings or change settings on any of their devices, which lead us to believe this will not have a strong adverse impact (source). Additionally, as reported in Mary Meeker’s 2018 Internet Trends report, 79% of USA Consumers are willing to share their personal data for “Clear Personal Benefit” (source). The increase in transparency of what is being tracked for their personal targeting benefit should educate the consumer and R2i does not feel that it will strongly adversely impact targeting. 

Chrome’s latest announcement follows similar moves from Firefox, Safari, and Facebook. 
    • Last year, Firefox rolled out new privacy and security features that allowed users to have more control over their data, by blocking third-party trackers by default.  This option has been available in Firefox Quantum since its launch in 2017, yet only 3% of users take advantage of it (source). 
    • There has always been a cookie tracking issue on Safari for ad targeting and attribution purposes by blocking 3rd-party cookies. In September of 2017, Apple introduced intelligent Tracking Prevention which also blocked 3rd party cross-site browsing data for ad targeting (source).   
    • As of February 2019, Chrome is the leading internet browser in the US and worldwide (source), with a 49% market share worldwide (62.4% in US).  Firefox has a 15.5% market share worldwide (31.6% in US), and Safari has a 4.4% market share worldwide (4.5% in the US).
    • Facebook also recently announced plans to provide their users with more control over their data, likely in response to recent data breaches and associated scandals. Facebook will be introducing Clear History, which will allow users to see the websites and apps that send their information to Facebook, delete information from their account, and turn off Facebook’s ability to store the data. (source). 

Media publishers (including Adobe and Google) now have solutions that do not involve utilizing cookies for targeting users. “Over 60% of marketers believe they will no longer need to rely on tracking cookies, a 20-year-old desktop-based technology, for the majority of their digital marketing within the next two years, according to data from Viant Technology, an advertising cloud” (source). While Chrome’s updates also include fingerprinting, publishers are working towards first party data so IP targeting and other fingerprinting methods is no longer needed. 
rachel-curasi

About the author: Rachel Curasi

As a Sr. Media Planner/Buyer, Rachel oversees the development, management, and optimization of media strategies and campaigns for R2i’s largest accounts across multiple industries such as tech, healthcare, and finance. She loves keeping up with industry trends as well finding new and innovative ideas for media campaigns. Her free time is spent going on hikes with her cockapoo, watching everything on Bravo, and practicing Yoga.

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