UPDATE – Google has said they are delaying this change to 2023
What’s next for Analytics Cookies?
Digital marketers are preparing for another seismic shift in the ad industry. Like ad blocking technology, the changes to third party cookies could make life very difficult for marketing professionals. As usual it’s one of the industry behemoths driving these changes, in this case Google. Having found a solution that will work for them, Google are ready to drop a bomb into the online world.
Not Google Again
This is not surprising to anyone who has worked on digital marketing, especially SEO. Google has long tried to make SEO non-existent as it doesn’t benefit their bottom line in the way that their ads platform does. Organic results are increasingly shunted lower down the page and the SEO advice from their representative John Mueller splits opinion within the SEO community. On the other hands if you run Adwords campaigns with them you’re increasingly hassled by account support representatives who advise you to make ‘crucial changes to your campaigns which generally result in you spending more for less return.
Now Google has turned its malevolent attention to analytics tracking itself. Over the last year increasing numbers of clients are turning to us and saying that their analytics stopped working because it couldn’t fire and satisfy the necessary GDPR protocols – or users were simply not accepting the cookies polices. There are ways around this with the help of a very experienced GTM manager.
Life after Third Party Analytics Cookies
A very helpful LinkedIn seminar helped to shine light on the issue of Life after 3rd Party Analytics which will affect Chrome users from next year.
The issue here is one of monopoly as these changes will not affect the big ad platforms like Amazon and Google – just all their smaller competition.
Ryan Webb of Adapt wrote: “Those users logged into Google, Facebook, Microsoft, Amazon, etc… will still experience tailored ads, because the tech platforms have an information-rich, first-party relationship with them. That means they can use additional signals in real-time, based on context and interactions.”
Third party analytics covers things such as Profiling and targeting, Remarketing, Conversion Tracking – all staples of a good digital marketer’s arsenal.
First party analytics tracking such as Google’s customer match and Facebook’s custom audiences will remain unchanged.
So what could the impacts of this be for your business or organization?
- Some would say that this is effectively a cleaning up of the industry that will remove some of the murkier elements of customer profiling online which can be worrying (how did they know I was looking to buy that!).
- While third party cookies will be phased out, first party cookies set by your website will rise in importance placing more responsibility on every web stakeholder to be more involved in the cookie process.
- But it will also probably drive up the cost of ad data as advertisers who have clean data can charge more for it.
- Frequency capping will be harder so advertisers will have to be smarter with their non-spam strategies.
- It will be harder to discern the relationship between a first conversion action and a conversion further down the line, something which all good digital marketing teams value.
What are the possible solutions?
With tech advancing all the time there will be solutions to these issues, everything from server to server tracking to on device targeting. The former is part of an ongoing battle between Facebook and Apple over Conversions API. The latter could be done by a FLoC. (Federated Learning of Cohorts) approach which hides individual users in a crowd (or cohort). Alternatively FLEDGE interest groups (possibly determined by FLoC) are stored in the browser and assigned to arbitrary, benign metadata. The metadata will then act as a signal to the ad platforms for bid management or targeting in real-time.
It is also heartening to know that the new iteration of Google Analytics, G4 is designed to work with server-to-server cookies. Google Tag Manager is also a good example of a first party cookies solution and we advise all clients to have their sites tagged up and future proofed for the most effective data gathering.