Scrapping of third-party cookies on web browsers raises concerns

By Adeyemi Adepetun |   02 September 2020   |   4:32 am  

As Google plans to scrap its third-party cookies, the need for brands and agencies to plug into platforms that offer first-party data has been heightened.

Search giant, Google, in January, had announced an end of support for the browser within the next two years for files used by advertisers, others, to track users from site to site. Already, Safari and Firefox have blocked third parties’ cookies on their browsers.

According to Google, the plan to restrict the use of third-party cookies in its Chrome Internet browser is aimed at bolstering users’ privacy while they visit websites. But to advertisers, this means that the ability to ‘follow’ customers around the web, understand their behaviours and preferences and then serve targeted ads is under huge threat.

Furthermore, experts argued that the move would create a serious challenge on data analytics and digital marketing.

Cookies are small pieces of data stored on a web users’ computer/device and enable the domain/webpage to store information and preferences about that user to facilitate smoother user interactions. They also help the domain/web page to remember the key information like password, and what scopes of attributes users’ interest are to keep the interaction up and relevant.

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Charting a way forward for brands and agencies was the focus of the webinar organised by Terragon, themed, “As the Cookie Crumbles,” Chief Operating Officer, All Seasons Zenith, Uwem Afanide, said third party cookies are going off, there is a need to begin to build and establish first-party data.

Afanide said brands and agencies needed to use better optimized landing pages that help collect first-party data.

He explained that brands and agencies must plug into platforms that offer first-party data, to deliver seamless personalised communication. With the advent of the Internet of Things (IoT), which is becoming readily available by the day, brands will have access to more in-depth data about their customers more than ever before.

He said this provides the opportunity to leverage this data to understand customer pain-points, buying habits and points of interaction.

According to him, most advertisers have built their display advertising around third party cookies. “Now they have to unlearn these models and actively tap into non-cookie data sources such as emails, device targeting, identity systems, and probably more direct placement with local publishers and e-commerce sites,” he stated.

Founder, Pulse, Leonard Stiegeler, said Publishers will need to engage in smart collaboration to overcome some of the hitches this new development will spring up. He said it is also important for publishers to understand their unique value in a changing environment and then build something that is flexible and unique to their users as well as partners.

“Advertisers should consider strong storytelling and strong content online as a powerful tool that can also transcend mediums (media), and is remembered well even when the purchase happens offline,” he stated.

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From the perspective of rising mobile subscriptions in Africa, Chief Digital Officer, MTN Nigeria, Srinivas Rao, said this will provide an opportunity for brands to scale.
Rao noted that mobile subscriptions will continue to drive adoption of data and internet technology, as users become more available on Internet platforms. “We will see a growth in business expenses on online advertising, because their users tend to be in this particular space now.”

Partner Technology Advisory and Head, Technology Assurance, KPMG Lagos, Lawrence Amadi, advised players in the space to work on their contents, adding that storytelling and storyboarding have become a really important factor in the online advertising industry of sub-Saharan Africa.

“For players in the space, also being able to put out really strong content that appeals to the end-users and to consumers would also be a key game changer for this space,” he stated.

According to him, the average working-class person is sometimes traversing three devices in a single day (tablet, laptop, smartphones) and constantly keeps coming in contact with online advertising. “What then attracts or endears these consumers, comes back to the quality of the story or content you’re putting out there.”

To overcome the data privacy challenges/laws in today’s world, Amadi said brands and marketing agencies must build a transparent and meaningful first-party relationship with their customers, to help them enrich their knowledge and preferences of these consumers. “One of the ways we can explore to educate the users on data privacy better is to leverage telcos. The telcos have 196 million subscriptions today in Nigeria (note that some subscribers have multiple SIM subscriptions) and over half of 740 million in Africa, we can definitely leverage them,” he stated.

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At an earlier conference, Founder/CEO of Terragon Nigeria, an enterprise marketing technology company, Elo Umeh, said marketers and advertisers alike had become weary as to what the future of targeted advertising holds for them given the domino effect this will have on their business.

Umeh said: “In today’s ads ecosystem, marketers are inclined to depend on third-party cookies in order to design and execute marketing strategies for ads-retargeting, pop-up advertising, and laser-focused user campaigns to enhance efficient marketing resource utilisation of the advertisers.

“We are led to wonder at this point how marketers, who depend heavily on third-party cookies for ads retargeting to drive their top-line, would cope with the new development. This phase out is extremely significant in the digital advertising industry for all stakeholders, especially because Google remains the overwhelming market leader in the web browser segment. Hence, everyone from the advertisers, who depend on the marketer’s ability to track and execute user-tailored ads, to the publisher who enjoys the monetisation of their platform, and the marketer who derive their major revenue sources will all have to adjust to the new reality.”

Google however explained that the alternative to the third-party cookies will be, “Privacy Sandbox,” which it claims would enhance user privacy, and be a fine balance between user privacy and tracking.

Disturbed by the development, Umeh said the major element in the privacy sandbox was Google’s plan to migrate the user’s data into Google chrome where it will be stored and processed, adding that marketers and advertisers will inevitably become more dependent on Google for advertising, or find ways to better leverage the first-party cookies instead.

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