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How Will Google’s Privacy Initiatives Affect Advertisers?

As experts in effective digital targeting, KC is always considering the changes in the media environment. Today, we look at Google’s new privacy initiatives and the many ways we’re already connecting our clients with relevant audiences while maintaining user privacy.

First, a Little Background

Earlier this month, Google announced new initiatives around privacy, including giving users better control of the cookies that identify our online usage. Cookies are tiny data files that are placed on our computers as we move about the web. While these cookies are useful for delivering customized web page experiences or saving site login information, cookie data is also used by advertisers to deliver ads that are relevant to our online behavior. If you’re shopping online for something and start seeing ads for the same or similar products later, this is because cookies identify you as someone in-market for these products.

Google’s user controls will allow users to see which cookies are installed on their Chrome browser and help users differentiate between those that are useful (for better web experience or logins) versus those just tracking your online usage for other purposes like advertising.
Google isn’t the first to offer these settings. Apple and Mozilla have already developed similar settings for Safari and FireFox but Chrome makes up 62.8% of all browser share globally, while the other two browsers make up 15.8% and 4.8%, respectively (statcounter.com, April 2019).

In order to block cookies, it will be up to the user to manage these settings. Some experts feel that the impact of these changes won’t be significant because users will need to opt-out of cookies and most users don’t like to mess with their browser settings. So, at this point, it’s difficult to say what the real impact of these changes will be and when they’ll take place. Google has not shared a demo of the new settings nor have they provided a specific timeline.

4 Ways We’re Still Able to Connect
In the meantime, since more browsers are making it easier for users to block cookies, it’s important for us to find alternative ways of connecting with relevant audiences. Here are a few techniques we’re already using with many of our clients:
  1. 1st party data.Online users are likely to be more accepting of cookies from websites they intentionally visit versus third-party cookie data that is sold to advertisers. In addition to improving a user’s web experience, we’re able to use 1st party data to retarget users who have recently visited a client’s website and re-message them with other relevant product ads or offers.
  2. Contextual targeting. In some cases we’re able to build a contextual targeting strategy which allows us to place ads adjacent to content that contains a high-density of keywords that are relevant to our client’s products or services.  In this case, we assume the content qualifies the reader as a potential customer and we are less reliant on user/cookie data.
  3. Private marketplace.Some of our best performing campaigns are in partnership with high-quality publishers that have a high composition of readers who are aligned with our clients’ core target audiences.  In this instance, the content might qualify the user or the publisher’s own data might provide additional layers of relevant targeting.
  4. Location.We’re often utilizing geo-fencing tactics to reach users at a specific time and place like an event, tradeshow or retail location.  Different types of mobile targeting is based on IP address or GPS location.  In some cases we’ve even targeted the employees of a specific company at their offices.
The Future is More Cookies
Google intends to roll-out these features later this year but it’s taken them six years to make this announcement. In the near future, Chrome will require that developers identify which cookies are allowed to work across websites and which one are used to track users. It sounds like there is still work to be done but ultimately, it’s up to users to determine how cookies impact their online experiences.