Google’s Identifier Announcement Recasts Priorities for Future-Focused Data Companies

By Kristina Prokop, CEO and Co-founder, Eyeota

Following its plans to phase out third-party cookies in Chrome by 2022, Google announced that it will not develop any alternative identifiers for tracking individual users for advertising purposes nor will the company use them in its products. This announcement further cements Google’s position to lead with a transparent and privacy-first approach to advertising within its Chrome ecosystem and products. It also reshapes the competitive landscape for data companies moving forward.

For the past year (and in some cases, much longer), a host of companies have been focused on developing what they’ve hoped would be embraced as the ultimate alternative to the third-party cookie. Many of those solutions have manifested as alternate persistent identifiers designed to help advertisers continue to connect with and personalize experiences for users across the digital landscape. But, as it turns out, many such identifiers might not work for advertisers programmatically buying ads using Google’s demand-side platform. Google’s announcement reiterates the fact that a single ID solution is not sustainable for the future and should prompt the industry to evaluate and test alternative methods of identification. Although there are many open questions about what methodologies will work in Google’s new world, and with what scale, it’s quite clear that strategies need to be built with data and identifier diversity in mind.

OK, so what does this mean for the advertising industry?

For Google, digital privacy appears to be the ultimate goal. The company’s Privacy Sandbox project for the creation of “a thriving web ecosystem that is respectful of users and private by default” provides a frame for its positioning, while its technology proposals for cohorts-based advertising, namely Turtledove and FLoC, are expected to accelerate from testing to real-life applications.

These shifts will ultimately favor companies with long-standing global approaches—the ones that have already adapted to stricter privacy policies in Europe and other international regions. Along with contextual targeting, first-party-data targeting is accepted within Google’s Privacy Sandbox. Thus, moving forward, brands and marketers will most likely look to replicate the consent and opt-in mechanics already in use by European publishers as they adopt their own privacy-led ad solutions and practices.

Furthermore, there is a real opportunity to build opt-in models that deliver a solution to engaging digital consumers in a meaningful way while providing transparency and choice, in exchange for the tools and benefits that they love.

The New Best Practices in Google’s New World

Going forward, publishers and advertisers will find it useful to view their partnerships and practices through the following lenses:

  • Long-standing partners of Google that have direct connections with both DoubleClick for Publishers and DV360 will be some of the first players to activate audiences at scale using Google Chrome’s new methodologies.
  • Companies must leverage and test a variety of data onboarding methodologies and stay nimble according to what is relevant for each market. For example, those leveraging data onboarding practices that are already based on cohort-level methodologies will have a leg up in Google’s new reality. The company’s announcement further validated that this already-established method has longevity within the world of privacy-first digital advertising.
  • Ultimately, the drive toward consumer consent and value exchange should be viewed as a positive. There’s a real opportunity for companies to build on previous successful activations of privacy-safe consent-based audience solutions in Europe. Such solutions have the potential to evolve on a global scale through consumer-friendly and transparent tools.

Google’s path forward will favor global data solutions that have always operated under the premise of data interoperability that enables companies to onboard, transform and activate data in their platform of choice. Going forward, the industry will require an agnostic approach to identity that supports the ingestion of data based on any online ID or offline key, thereby ensuring companies have continued access to solutions regardless of the changes within our industry.