Programmatic & The Changing Privacy Landscape
Digital cookies have been a driving influence for programmatic strategy since the channel’s onset. They served as the cornerstone of cross-site tracking of targeted users and attribution of omni-channel performance. Though the cookie remains a viable (and frequently used) solution for brands’ targeting and tracking needs today, the shifting needs of marketers due to COVID-19 have forced privacy discussions to the back-burner, a major change from the 2019 landscape.
But while our priorities might shift today, it’s important to remember that privacy discussions will eventually resume, and upcoming plans will include a greater reliance on first-party data for both advertisers and publishers. In the programmatic industry, advertisers have activated on these plans with newer technologies that allow them to carry out targeting strategies in similar ways.
What are the recent changes to data privacy?
An anti-tracking feature introduced by Safari called ITP inhibits third-party companies from collecting data from browsing behavior. This is done by eliminating the functionality of third-party cookies on Safari browsers.
The latest update, announced in April 2019, shortens the window of first-party cookie tracking down to 24 hours as tech giants like Facebook and Google shifted to these first-party cookie tracking workarounds. It’s important to note that this is a feature exclusive to the Safari browser, which is responsible for only 4% of all browser sessions (but 24% of mobile browser sessions) worldwide.
Data regulation, as most marketers are aware, is not limited to Safari ITP. Other technology companies are following suit with similar tactics as privacy acts are becoming more prevalent with the EU’s GDPR advancements and the establishment of CCPA at the start of 2020.
Firefox protected its users by blocking third-party cookies by default as Google Chrome put its Privacy Sandbox roadmap in place over the course of 2019. Chrome’s most recent announcement ultimately calls for the total elimination of third-party cookies by 2022.
How do these changes affect audience targeting?
Without third-party data, brands will need to implement tactics for acquiring first-party data and storing it in compliant data warehouses/CRMs. Strong examples of this are opt-in features and identity-based accounts.
We’ll also see an increased demand for 2nd-party data, and likely an emergence of perspectives about the ethics of their usage. This includes credit card data, loyalty and rewards behavior, and demographics built independently of cookies.
Are any cookieless targeting solutions available?
A growing number of ad impressions available today across the digital landscape are no longer fully reliant on cookies to track. There are multiple alternatives currently available to leverage in the space to start testing a cookieless targeting strategy as tech companies work to develop alternatives to tracking. Mobile in-App and CTV channels, for example, are newer and rely on information past the cookie to identify and reach targeted users.
Additionally, you have the option of AI based solutions which can identify and align your ads with content that is not only safe but privacy-proof using natural language processing and first party data to analyze branches of behavioral attributes, identify patterns, and make informed targeting decisions.
Advertisers have a history of resiliency and nimbleness, and the need to reach people with relevant content to drive their goals will just be taking a new form as privacy regulations change. To be prepared and work with a trusted agency partner, contact Rise.