What, I hear you ask! No more of those delicious baked goodies we all love. Well no, it’s not that serious.

But as digital practitioners we should all be aware of a seismic shift taking place in the digital industry right now. One which will affect how brands, agencies and publishers track and target consumers online.

So, what’s the big deal?

With recent concerns over consumer privacy online, driven by data breaches, cyberattacks, and the election interference from Russia to the Cambridge Analytica scandal, there has been a slew of new data privacy regulations. From the US there’s been the introduction of the California Consumer Privacy Act and in the EU we have GDPR regulation. Coupled with a public backlash, this has forced the tech companies to act, updating their browsers to make it harder to track consumer behaviour by using cookies.

Over the past couple of years, we have seen moves from both Firefox and more importantly Apple’s Safari to curtail the use of cookies within their browsers. And then in May 2019 Google announced they are rolling out their own version within Chrome. With 63% share of the market for browsers globally, this announcement is likely to have a chilling effect on the use of cookies.

But is this a bad thing for the industry or a chance to evolve the approach to targeting display campaigns?

Here are five ways we think this could impact the market:

  1. The size of third-party data segments will decrease

As cookies get deleted more frequently from browsers, third-party audience sizes are likely to decrease dramatically. Campaigns relying heavily on third-party data will have to find alternatives to achieve scale. On the flip side, the third-party data that does exist is likely to be much more valuable, with audiences that have demonstrated clearer buying signals. So the jury is still out on this.

  1. Contextual and site category targeting will come to the fore

With the decrease in size and usage of third-party data segments, there is likely to be a resurgence in the use of keyword and site category targeting. Targeting based on keywords and category doesn’t require cookie-based data and therefore offers a viable alternative to targeting high value audiences.

  1. A renewed focus on better, more engaging creative

Whilst the age of digital and data has brought many benefits in terms of targeting and effectiveness, some would argue this has been at the detriment of creative quality. Now with fewer data levers to pull, there may well be a push towards using more engaging creative to drive results.

  1. Publisher data will become more important than ever

A reduction in the prevalence of cookies creates a significant opportunity for publishers, who over the last few years have taken a battering from the Google-Facebook duopoly. The smart publishers are already investing heavily in this area, allowing them to aggressively monetise this data source. For advertisers, these publisher data sources provide a reliable, and more accurate way to target their campaigns.

  1. GAFA becomes even more dominant

Google and Facebook have built their businesses on advertising, whilst Amazon has grown their advertising revenues massively over the past couple of years. An unintended consequence of the new regulation and a move to a cookie-less market is that the dominance of Google, Facebook and Amazon will grow. With their walled garden, consent-based platforms, they are not subject to the same constraints as the rest of the market. And their ability to capture vast amounts of data on consumers to sell to advertisers means they will become even more valuable.

How disruptive will it actually be?

Initial reports suggest it’s not as bad as many predicted. More than 12 months since GDPR came out, research indicates that over 90% of users are consenting to website requests for use of third-party cookies. The effect of Chrome’s cookie consent setting is not yet known, but it is unlikely to be as severe as many feared, at least in the short-term. And for many within this space, this is an opportunity to move beyond a cookie-based world and take programmatic advertising to the next stage in its evolution.

At Space & Time we have experts who can help you navigate this complex space, finding the right solutions and keeping you ahead of your competitors.

Get in touch if you’d like to know more…