How third-party tracking getting blocked could impact marketing
Aditya Saxena, Vice President APAC, iQuanti and Ajay Kumar Rama, Senior Vice President Products & Solutions, iQuantiQuanti
With Google announcing plans to phase out third-party cookies in Chrome, the implication is wider

How third-party tracking getting blocked could impact marketing

With Google announcing plans to phase out third-party cookies in Chrome, the implication is wider
  • Many marketing technology and data companies have built their businesses on the back of third-party cookie data.
  • Third-party cookies getting blocked could have huge implications for marketers.
  • Aditya Saxena, Vice President APAC, iQuanti and Ajay Kumar Rama, Senior Vice President Products & Solutions, iQuanti write about the impact this could have on the overall marketing ecosystem.
GDPR and the more recent California Data privacy act, have brought consumer consent to the forefront of data collection. Third-party cookies, which mostly operate in the background, by dropping a piece of code on our desktop or mobile, while browsing the internet, have mostly been in the grey when it comes to explicit or implicit consent of a consumer to be tracked. Based on a study conducted on web tracking in 2020, including a single third-party tracker can lead to requests from up to eight additional services. These requests are not deterministic and change with repeated visits. Over the last few years, leading internet browsers, Safari and Firefox, for example, began blocking third-party cookies to address the privacy concerns. However, with Google announcing plans to phase out third-party cookies in Chrome, the implication is wider, as Chrome is the most popular browser used by consumers.

Implications for marketers
Several large marketing technologies and data companies have built their business and products, on the back of third-party cookie data. This allows them to stitch together profiles of customer behavior online and their interests, which is then made available across ad platforms for use in targeting of ads. Programmatic advertising, to a large extent, is reliant on this, and the phasing out of third-party cookie data will require significant innovation and workarounds from data companies to remain viable. Jumpstart, a marketing data company that used such techniques, recently announced seizing of its operations due to concerns about privacy in the methods deployed to capture data.

Emerging alternatives
Marketing platforms and AdTech companies are working to address the new reality of consumer consent and privacy. We see several themes emerging.

a. Companies building their first-party data
Converting third-party data to first-party data, by creating ways to capture information about prospects across various relevant (even if indirect journeys) is something several large Financial Services companies are attempting to do. For example, capturing creditworthiness and related information, through services such as ‘free credit report’, ‘improve your credit score’ etc. are methods being adopted to capture data that could be then used as the first party in targeting prospects for various financial products. Such methods, of course, require dedicated investments and an assessment of what data is valuable & then a strategic approach to building out digital assets that deliver enough value to consumers.

b. First-party data tech investments
Another trend is the consolidation of ‘data companies’ and big agencies buying data companies. By doing that, data companies are now able to execute campaigns on their first-party data directly on behalf of the brands, thus overcoming the limitations in using programmatic media buying in the post GDPR era. Google, Facebook already has extensive first-party data that they use in their ad platforms. Several use cases make this an attractive investment strategy. Acquisition of Epsilon by Publicis group, IPGs big bet on Acxiom, Cheetah Digital's acquisition of Wayin, Dentsu's acquisition of 4Cite are all examples in this direction.

c. Second-party data partnerships
An alternative to first-party data tech but at a much smaller scale is executing direct partnerships between advertisers and publishers. Advertisers can marry their data with publisher’s data to target known customers with custom campaigns and find similar prospects in the publisher’s data.

d. Google privacy sandbox
First party cookies in the browser, which can then be used to make data available across marketing platforms for targeting is another emerging trend. Google, which has over 55% of browser market share with Chrome, has launched a privacy sandbox initiative that is attempting to do this and aims to make data available through APIs. The move away from third-party cookies could drive even more efforts to drive consolidation/ leadership in the browser market.

e. Contextual and event-based targeting gaining prominence
Contextual targeting does away with the need to find an individual-level data to micro-target. A similar alternative of not targeting based on personal data is event-based campaigns. In this approach, brands study their target audiences and their life events extensively. The life events that could directly lead to the need for the advertiser's product or can establish a match to the advertiser’s target profile are great ways to target. These approaches have a similar effect on performance as personalization based on customer profiles.

Implications for financial services companies
For Financial Services companies, given the nature of products, the targeting data available across platforms, have been subject to various compliances and adherence to fair lending practices. With the move away from third-party cookies and the ‘always on’ pressure to bring down the cost of acquisition, the need for enhancing first-party data and driving partnerships to access second-party data will further increase. Financial Services companies have a head start in this direction because of their massive customer bases with rich profile information and transaction data already being available. On the supply side, most Financial Services already have existing partnerships with bureau databases like Experian and TransUnion to enhance their first-party data. We anticipate both Financial Services players and data providers/ AdTech players to come up with offerings that allow them to further enhance knowledge of prospective customers through non-traditional data gathering methods- which are fully consent driven. However, to do that, innovation and new products will be the way forward.

- The following article has been co-authored by Aditya Saxena, Vice President APAC, iQuanti and Ajay Kumar Rama, Senior Vice President Products & Solutions, iQuanti