Marketers are bracing for the “Cookiepocalypse” — when Google Chrome follows up on its promise to cut support for the third-party cookie by 2022.
As Andrew Tu, APAC MD of OpenX, recently put it:
“The upcoming death of the cookie is set up to be the defining issue of digital advertising over the next 12 months.”
The writing has long been on the wall for the quarter-century old cookie (first used in 1994 by Lou Montulli for the Netscape browser) with mounting privacy concerns, regulatory challenges, and a general frustration about the creepiness of retargeting ads stalking everyone across the internet.
But with Chrome accounting for more than 60% of global Internet use, Google’s announcement last year was the final straw (even as UK regulators announced anti-competitive challenges just last week to Google’s answer to the cookie — the “privacy sandbox”).
All of this has forced marketers to rethink how to reach “the right people with the right message at the right time.” This has prompted a return to contextual targeting — placing ads adjacent to relevant content (as opposed to relying on a user’s historical behavior). And it has also driven renewed interest in collecting “first-party” data.
However this plays out, I like this observation from Kat Warboys, Hubspot’s ANZ head of marketing:
“For marketers, it’s an important reminder about doing right by customers, especially when it comes to respecting their data. Data is a powerful tool that can be used for good, evil, or just general annoyance. Companies that choose to abuse customer data can certainly grow, but in the long run, that growth will cost them their customers’ trust — that’s not really growth at all, it’s debt. But companies that protect data and use it thoughtfully to make customers’ lives just a little bit easier will be the ones that do well.”
Here are a few related cartoons I’ve drawn over the years: