How Effective Is TikTok as an Advertising Platform?

How Effective Is TikTok as an Advertising Platform?

TikTok

By Tim Colucci, Taylor Hart, and Bella Schneider 

TikTok is an advertising juggernaut. The app doubled its ad revenues in 2022 according to an industry estimate. Rivals such as YouTube were directly affected. And TikTok continues to roll out new capabilities that appeal to businesses, such as livestream commerce. This is all the more remarkable considering the fact that TikTok has been operating under the threat of being banned in the United States for the past few years.

But just how effective is TikTok as an ad platform? Our own experiences working with TikTok have seen mixed results.

Inconsistent Performance with Conversions

TikTok has both impressed and disappointed us when it comes to conversions such as app downloads, purchases, and leads. On the positive side, one of our clients running social ads increased ROI on TikTok by over 18% in Q3 compared to Q1.

In Q3 on TikTok, we launched conversion campaigns (as well as upper-funnel) for this client, which definitely affected the increase in ROI because in Q1 we only were running upper-funnel campaigns on TikTok.

But when we look at results for other clients – specifically for lead-generation-based mobile app campaigns — we have seen disappointing conversion numbers. For those clients, the cost per conversion on TikTok is higher than on other apps. Why? Probably because TikTok compels users to stay on the app and scroll continuously through a stream of content – as any TikTok user can attest. Taking the time to disengage from TikTok to download an app or to make a purchase is counterintuitive to how TikTok operates.

TikTok does offer tools for advertisers to drive conversions, such as an instant lead form, which creates a customized lead generation form with a call to action. As a result, the user need not leave the app to fill out a lead form. We have seen some success using the instant lead form, but nowhere near the conversion rates we’ve experienced on Facebook and Google. As a result, the cost per lead for TikTok is much higher than for Facebook and Google for lead-generation-based mobile app campaigns.

Awkward App Optimization Feature

Apps such as Facebook and TikTok offer features that make it possible for businesses to optimize multiple app campaigns based on different audiences, creative assets, and objectives. These are known as app event optimization (AEO). With AEO, a business can ensure that multiple campaigns are not competing with each other as they maximize their performance. We found that TikTok’s AEO feature is less effective than Facebook’s. For example, on Facebook, a business can optimize for both web and app campaigns together a lot more effectively than on TikTok. In at least one case, we found that multiple TikTok campaigns for the same brand were competing with each other, but fortunately our own team caught the issue early on and adapted our strategy.

Advice for Brands

  • Monitor your TikTok performance closely. As noted above, conversions can differ by type of campaign (in our case, social ads versus lead-generation-based mobile app campaigns). TikTok is still evolving as an ad platform, and TikTok ad accounts require more maintenance and proactive communication with the TikTok ad team. Keep on top of your performance and be ready to shift gears quickly as we have done.
  • Consider TikTok for brand awareness, but the jury is still out when it comes to conversions. Our campaigns have performed especially well when our objectives have been to achieve reach and brand lift. In our experience, TikTok CPMs are typically less expensive than CPMs for Facebook, Snap, or Pinterest.
  • Watch for new tools. TikTok will continue to roll out new tools to maximize its value, including more livestreaming features. Be alert for them and decide which ones are a possible fit for your brand – but treat them as experimental.
  • Consider the big picture. The conversation about TikTok as an ad platform could become moot if the app is banned in the United States owing to ongoing concerns about the app posing a security and privacy threat. Advertisers are staying true to TikTok as the app’s parent company ByteDance negotiates an agreement with the U.S. government. Could TikTok get sold? That’s a real possibility. Watch developments and be ready to adapt.

Contact True Interactive

At True Interactive, we work with our clients to maximize the value of all their online advertising, including social media spend. We strongly advocate for our clients as we work with apps such as TikTok. Contact us to learn how we can help you.

An Explanation of the 30 Percent Apple/Google Tax

An Explanation of the 30 Percent Apple/Google Tax

Apple Google

Twitter’s well publicized spat with Apple has highlighted an unpleasant reality for any business that operates an app: Apple and Google both enjoy a costly app duopoly.

The 30 Percent Tax

Twitter owner Elon Musk recently accused Apple of trying to destroy Twitter partly by putting Apple’s Twitter advertising on pause and partly by threatening to remove Twitter from the Apple app store.

Both parties apparently resolved their building tensions. Apple is advertising on Twitter, and Twitter remains on the App Store. Perhaps all is well between Apple and Twitter now. But not all is well for any organization, including Twitter, that needs the App Store to do business on Apple’s iOS operating system, which, of course, includes iPhone users.

The App Store provides access to more than 1.5 billion devices. It’s a top way for people to get the Twitter app and any app. What many journalists accurately reported in their coverage of the Twitter/Apple skirmish is that businesses on the App Store must pay Apple a 30 percent commission on all transactions processed via Apple, known as in-app purchases. As The New York Times noted,

Mr. Musk’s App Store allegation resurrects a potent charge against Apple: that it has used access to millions of iPhone and iPad devices as a cudgel to extract more money from app makers. A key part of Mr. Musk’s plans for Twitter is collecting more revenue from subscriptions — but under Apple’s policies, up to 30 percent of those sales from iPhone users would go to Apple itself.

The commission applies to all app developers who make more than $1 million through the ‌App Store‌ on an annual basis. For small developers who make less than the $1 million threshold, Apple has cut its fees to 15 percent through the Small Business Developer Program.

The commission also applies to “sales of ‘boosts’ for posts in a social media app,” meaning boosted content (i.e., posts that becomes amplified for a fee) on Facebook and Instagram.

Apple is not alone. Google also offers its own in-app billing system that charges a 30 percent commission or service fee for any payment made for an app or in-app payments or subscriptions. In 2021, Google began to enforce this requirement. After withering backlash, Google said it would cut the fee to 15 percent earned by a developer through their app on Play Store in a year and the 30 percent commission will apply for the revenue earned beyond $1 million.

Apple and Google effectively hold a duopoly. No business can bypass that duopoly; trying to process payments outside the App Store or Google Play would result in being kicked off both. (However, it should be noted that reportedly Elon Musk is figuring out how to design a closed payments system for Twitter.)

In the United Kingdom, the Competition and Markets Authority is launching an investigation that is taking aim at this duopoly. In the United States, reportedly the Justice Department is investigating Apple, and Epic Games has gone so far as to fight Apple legally.

But the wheels of justice may turn too slowly for the businesses that are operating under the thumb of Apple and Google. What steps can they take? Here are a few suggestions:

  • As with any tax, it’s important to budget accordingly. If you have not done so already, adjust you advertising and marketing plans to take into account the 30 percent commission. (We can help you with that.)
  • Boost your advertising and marketing to attract more sales. (We can help you with that, too.)
  • Make your voice known, as Twitter, Coinbase, and Spotify are doing. True, few businesses have the reach and visibility of those companies, but going on record leaves electronic breadcrumbs that increase the pressure on the duopoly, however slightly. Remember, backlash caused Google to back down on its fees as noted above.

Meanwhile, True Interactive continues to work with our clients to maximize the value of every dollar they spend via mobile advertising. Contact us to learn how we can help you.

Photo by Rami Al-zayat on Unsplash

How Retailers Can Succeed on Amazon during the Holiday Season

How Retailers Can Succeed on Amazon during the Holiday Season

Advertising

By Tim Colucci and Morgan Reilly

It’s a challenging time to be a merchant selling products on Amazon. In October, Amazon’s vaunted Prime Day II sale underperformed according to analysts’ analysis. And then Amazon forecast its Q4 retail sales to be $140 billion to $148 billion in the fourth quarter, far short of analysts’ average estimate of $156 billion. Meanwhile, Adobe Inc. forecast that US e-commerce sales in November and December will rise just 2.5% from the prior year.

All of this is because consumers are more price conscious amid inflation and fears of a pending recession, so they will likely spend less.

Independent sellers on Amazon’s website, who account for a majority of unit sales, are bracing for a challenging holiday season in the run-up to Cyber Week. Many of them advertise their products on Amazon via Amazon Ads. How should they adapt their approach if at all?

Here are some tips:

1 Don’t Let Prime Day Results Spook You

Klover, a company that analyzes real-time commerce and financial data, found that households spent around 40 percent less during the October event compared with the July Prime Day. But merchants were constrained by Amazon’s ground rules for selling on Prime Day II, which prohibited vendors from featuring top discounts on both October Prime Day and Cyber Week. So, many merchants likely were hesitant to feature their top discounts/promotions because they needed to save them for Cyber Week. Also, many retailers might not have been prepared to have inventory ready for two Prime Days (July and October) and Cyber Week — and in those cases, they are likely holding out for Cyber Week.

2 Focus on Value, Not Price

As a partner to advertisers this holiday season, our own experience indicates that the lowest cost item isn’t necessarily the most popular. So far we’re seeing traditionally popular sellers are doing well. Consumers are willing to pay for what they really want. They’re willing to trade down for a lower-cost alternative, but that doesn’t mean they’re going for the cheapest items on the menu. Beware inventory dumping, which burned many businesses on Prime Day. During the inflationary times we’re living in, price-conscious shoppers are less likely to buy something extra just because it’s on sale.

3 Consider Sponsored Brands and Sponsored Display in Addition to Sponsored Products

For many merchants, Amazon’s Sponsored Products ad unit is the bread-and-butter of their ad spend. Sponsored products are used to promote a single product and take the consumer directly to the product page. Additional creative such as images and text are not needed, making sponsored products the simplest ad to set up. Merchants use keyword targeting to match products to a consumer’s search and show ads on the search results page or product detail page. 

Amazon Sponsored Products

Sponsored Brands allow for multiple products or titles to be promoted together using a custom headline and logo. Consumers are taken to a product page if they click on a product, or to a designated landing page if they click on the image or ad text. Sponsored Brands are good for driving awareness, in addition to sales. For example, advertisers can pair new or seasonal items with a related top seller in an ad to increase visibility in other product offerings. Or if a seller has multiple versions of the same product, using Sponsored Brand ads showcases the variety available within a single ad.

Amazon Sponsored Brands

Sponsored Display, on the other hand, makes it possible to engage with shoppers on and off Amazon with self-service display ads. Advertisers can engage audiences browsing specific detail pages, on the Amazon home page, on Twitch (owned by Amazon), and across third-party apps and websites. Amazon says that on average companies that use Sponsored Display see up to 82 percent of their sales driven by new-to-brand customers.

 

So, why do Sponsored Brands and Sponsored Display matter? Because the 2022 holiday season is more competitive. As Amazon noted in its earnings forecast, shoppers are spending less. They’re choosier. So, advertisers have to work harder at the awareness and consideration phases, which is where Sponsored Brands (for consideration) and Sponsored Display (for awareness) can be especially useful by showcasing more of a product’s features on and off Amazon.

4 Know Your Cyber Week Strategy

Today merchants everywhere (whether on Amazon or not) need to manage their holiday advertising spend against an increasingly complex set of choices: Black Friday, Cyber Monday, and now Cyber Week (Thanksgiving Day, Black Friday, Small Business Saturday, Super Sunday, and Cyber Monday).

You do want to fund your advertising for all of Cyber Week, but some days are more appealing than others depending on what you sell. Cyber Monday remains huge, especially the peak shopping evening hours. Cyber Monday will likely loom very large in 2022 as shoppers hold out for the best possible deal.

Each day a retailer gets closer to Christmas, sales will inevitably taper off, off, but retailers should keep placeholder budget in place up until the last day free shipping is possible.

Contact True Interactive

True Interactive has deep experience helping clients plan and implement holiday shopping campaigns online, and this includes the use of Amazon Ads. We can help you, too. We understand how to create nimble search campaigns and multi-channel ad outreach to target consumers with the right message at the right time. Contact us to learn more.

An Early Take on the Netflix Advertising Tier

An Early Take on the Netflix Advertising Tier

Connected TV

Netflix disclosed the details of its highly anticipated ad tier at a time when the streaming industry faces intensified competition and economic headwinds. Under pressure to shore up revenue and a loss of subscribers, the company has fast-tracked the roll-out of its ad tier in partnership with Microsoft. Known as Basic with Ads, this lesser priced option will cost $6.99 a month in the United States and launch on November 3 at 9:00 am PT. Here’s how the ad-free Netflix stacks up against the competition:

Netflix Ad Tier

(Image courtesy of The Wall Street Journal)

In one sense, the launch is well timed. Inflation continues to be a problem affecting consumer sentiment, making a less expensive option more appealing.

Here are more details:

  • If you like your current Netflix’s ad-free tier, nothing will change for you. Basic with Ads complements Netflix’s ad-free Basic, Standard, and Premium plans.
  • There will be an average of 4 to 5 minutes of ads per hour.
  • At launch, ads will be 15 or 30 seconds in length, which will play before and during shows and films.
  • Advertisers will be able to target ads by by country and genre (e.g., action, drama, romance, sci-fi). Advertisers will also be able to prevent their ads from appearing on content that they find unsuitable for their brand.
  • To enable advertisers to understand how Netflix can reach their target audience, Nielsen will use its Digital Ad Ratings (DAR) in the United States. This will become available sometime in 2023 and eventually be reported through Nielsen ONE Ads.

My Take

This approach looks to be pretty standard and in line with other streaming services that include ads in programming.

I was a little surprised to see 4-5 minutes of ads per hour, though. I didn’t think Netflix would come out of the gate with that many minutes devoted to advertising. I also was thinking they would only serve ads before a show started to try and differentiate themselves from someplace like Fubo Tv Online, an American streaming television service serving customers in the United States, Canada, and Spain that focuses primarily on channels that distribute live sports.

To put the volume of ad minutes in perspective: The Stranger Things Season 4 finale was 2 hours and 20 minutes in length. This means a viewer might see upwards of 10 minutes of ads throughout the show. This amount feels like it could detract from a person’s binging experience.

The fact that measurement is coming to Netflix via Nielsen should bring more clarity to just how well Netflix programming performs. For years, Netflix was tight-lipped about reporting performance data. Only recently did the company begin to report on its most popular shows. Third-party data from Nielsen will provide a much-needed lens.

Netflix probably needed to lay down its pipes quickly because its competitors are moving fast. The ad-supported tier of Disney+ launches in November, and Apple is rumored to be launching an Apple TV+ option with advertising in 2023.

The big picture is just as important as the specifics of Netflix’s tier: It’s important that businesses understand the growth of advertising on streaming platforms in context of the rise of connected TV. If you’ve not done so already, take a closer look at why connected TV is growing and how it could expand your audience. (True Interactive can help you with that.) Connected TV is enjoying 60-percent growth, driven by a public’s appetite for streaming that continues unabated.

Meanwhile, the Netflix tier has attracted the interest of roughly half of Netflix subscribers who would consider switching; and if the program succeeds, Netflix will gain more subscribers. For another perspective, here are the results of a poll that Ad Age conducted recently on LinkedIn:

Poll

Bottom line: the movers and shakers of the streaming world are paving the way for something much bigger: connected TV advertising.

Contact True Interactive

True Interactive can help you navigate the connected TV landscape. Our services range from media strategy and planning to automated performance reporting. Learn more about our services here, and contact us to learn more.

 

 

Why Walmart Connect Expanded Its Advertising Partnerships

Why Walmart Connect Expanded Its Advertising Partnerships

Walmart

As the 2022 holiday season kicks into high gear, retail analysts are watching closely how much consumers will spend during a time of inflation. But it’s equally fascinating to understand how people shop. Walmart Connect, Walmart’s fast-growing advertising arm, believes that holiday shopping online – indeed all shopping online — will increasingly happen via social media, television commerce (t-commerce), and livestreaming. That’s one reason that Walmart Connect has expanded its advertising partner program to encompass social apps such as TikTok and streaming platforms such as TalkShopLive.

What Is the Walmart Advertising Partner Program?

Walmart Connect wants to help businesses advertise across the digital world beyond Walmart.com. To do that, Walmart Connect’s partnership program works with platforms to help brands scale, automate, and optimize their Walmart Connect advertising. These include partners that make it possible for Walmart Connect to expand self-service advertising through an application programming interface (API). Those API partners can be found here.

The partnership program is becoming more important to Walmart as it positions itself as a strong retailer-based ad platform alternative to Amazon Ads. And Walmart says the program is increasingly delivering value. For example, when BirdRock Brands turned to Pacvue (an enterprise software suite for eCommerce advertising) to scale its manual Walmart Sponsored Products campaigns, BirdRock was able to help design a campaign that ultimately experienced a return on ad spend 11 percent greater than its target, and an 83 percent increase in sales quarter over quarter.

What Did Walmart Announce About Its Advertising Partner Program?

Walmart has added a slew of advertising partners known as innovation partners. According to Walmart, these innovation partners will provide test-and-learn opportunities with formats such as social, entertainment, and live streaming throughout the entire holiday season. The newly expanded offering includes additional touchpoints and channels to reach customers wherever they are with new ad formats:

  • TikTok: this partnership provides an opportunity for advertisers to connect with potential shoppers on the red-hot TikTok platform. As Walmart noted, more than 50 percent of TikTok users say they watch ads on their feed instead of scrolling past them. The first-to-market pilot between TikTok and Walmart Connect will provide advertisers with the opportunity to serve in-feed ads on TikTok. This will leverage TikTok’s sound-on full screen video format together with Walmart Connect’s targeting and measurement.
  • Snap: the partnership with Snap enables advertisers to buy ad units including augmented realityCollection Ads and Snap Ads through Walmart Connect and take advantage of the Walmart Connect’s geo-based measurement. This is the first time advertisers can buy Snap ad units through Walmart Connect and get in front of the unique Snapchat audience (75 percent of 13-34 year-olds in the U.S.), who hold over $1.9 trillion in spending power.
  • Firework: this partnership enables supplier-funded shoppable livestreams and short shoppable videos on Walmart.com/live. Walmart Connect is testing how brands can leverage Firework’s capabilities to create premium, engaging, mobile-first video experiences and, to start, has partnered with Johnson & Johnson and Procter & Gamble.
  • TalkShopLive: Walmart Connect is expanding its relationship with TalkShopLive to partnership enable supplier-funded shoppable livestreams on Walmart.com/live, TalkShopLive’s platform, brand and publisher sites, as well as across the web. Walmart Connect is testing how brands can amplify their content and connect with shoppers at scale. To start, it has already executed livestreams with Johnson & Johnson, Procter & Gamble, and Samsung, among others.
  • Roku: Walmart wants to help make TV streaming the next e-commerce shopping destination. Walmart touts Roku as America’s Number One TV streaming platform (citing Hypothesis Group research). So, Walmart has become the exclusive retailer to enable streamers on Roku to purchase featured products and have the transactions fulfilled by the chain. Walmart Connect will connect brands to customers through the Roku platform, and checkout will be seamless for customers, while advertisers receive insights on effectiveness via Walmart Connect measurement.

In announcing these partnerships, Walmart discussed how online search and shopping has become more diversified especially in the post-pandemic age. Seth Dallaire, Executive Vice President and Chief Revenue Officer, Walmart U.S., wrote in a blog post:

Consumers who turned to online shopping during the pandemic have chosen to stay there, with those returning to in-store relying on online research to guide their decisions. Consumers realized the importance of “connection” and were forced to adapt and connect in new ways including social feeds, livestreaming, mobile and more, specifically across video and connected TV. In fact, the predicted growth of social commerce from 10% of all e-commerce to 17% by 2025 will be driven by Gen Z and millennial consumers and nearly two-thirds (64%) of social media users — an estimated 2 billion social buyers — said they made a purchase on social media in the past year.

Now, Walmart Connect intends to do its part in connecting social media discovery to actual sales. So far, Walmart Connect’s partnerships have been hands-on in nature. Brands get custom reporting about their campaigns, based on activations on Walmart.com’s live shopping, TikTok, Snap, and Roku. But Seth Dallaire told Advertising Age that the partnership program expanding to the point where it would be more automated and widely available within Walmart Connect, so that brands could better target ads on social media and connected TV.

Contact True Interactive

To succeed with online advertising, contact True Interactive. Read about some of our client work here and our Walmart Connect expertise here.

For Further Insight

Why Walmart Connect Is Winning,” Tim Colucci, February 25, 2022.

Why Retailers Are Launching Ad Businesses,” Tim Colucci, January 11, 2022.

Walgreens Doubles Down on Its Advertising Business,” Tim Colucci, May 19, 2021.

Amazon Unveils New Ad Units Across Its Ecosystem,” Kurt Anagnostopoulos, May 4, 2021.

Why Macy’s Launched an Advertising Platform,” Tim Colucci, March 3, 2021.

Walmart Asserts Its Leadership in Advertising,” Tim Colucci, February 8, 2021.

Why the NFL on Amazon Prime Is a Victory for Connected TV

Why the NFL on Amazon Prime Is a Victory for Connected TV

Amazon

For decades, watching NFL games on television has meant gathering in front of a TV set and watching a game on one of the major networks. NFL games have been events that vanquish the competition. Featured programming such as Sunday Night Football, Thursday Night Football, and Monday Night Football have dominated viewer ratings. All of this is still the case. But how we watch football is changing.

On September 15, the NFL officially entered a new era of television broadcasting when the Kansas City Chiefs and Los Angeles Chargers took the field for Thursday Night Football. Instead of televising the game on an established linear TV network, the NFL streamed the match-up on Amazon Prime as part of a $13 billion, 11-year deal with Amazon.

The game marked the NFL’s official embrace of streaming. It also meant that to watch TNF going forward, football fans would need to sign up for Amazon Prime, which is Amazon’s premium service costing $139 annually. And so far, it looks like fans are willing to pony up. According to an internal Amazon memo, the September 15 broadcast drew a record number of Prime sign-ups for a year-hour period.

Given the popularity of the NFL – easily the most dominant brand on TV based on viewer ratings – the streaming agreement has significant ramifications for advertisers. Notably, this is a victory for connected TV, which means watching TV content through a device such as Roku or Amazon Fire. Many people refer to connected TV as over-the-top (OTT) TV, which refers to streaming content directly over the internet instead of cable, broadcast, and satellite television platforms. Although technically the two terms differ – with connected TV referring specifically to the device people use to stream content – for all intents and purposes, they are the same. Whatever you want to call it, connected TV has arrived: streaming is now more popular than cable. It’s no longer optional for businesses to have an OTT advertising strategy.

Connected advertising is similar to linear TV advertising because both formats rely obviously on video. But connected TV is different in many important ways. For one thing, advertisers need to understand how to create video content that will reach viewers across a variety of viewing devices in addition to TV screens, and connected TV ads are competing with multiple content streams. (You can watch TNF on a laptop, mobile phone, or gaming console with multiple screens open.)

And each streaming service and connected TV device (ranging from Amazon Fire to Roku) offer their own ad units. For example, Amazon Ads, which is Amazon’s fast-growing advertising business, offers ad units such as inline ads (which appear as selectable rows in each major browsing section of Fire TV) and feature rotator (a carousel-like ad placement appearing above the fold of the screen).

Ahead of the launch of TNF on Amazon Prime, Danielle Carney, Amazon Ads’ Head of NFL Sales, said:

We’re offering myriad opportunities to get involved with TNF, catering to brands’ range of needs. Our premier sponsorships give advertisers the ability to elevate their brands during the pre-game, pre-kick, halftime, and post-game shows. But that’s not all. We’re continuing to innovate and explore other potential sponsorships and packages that will enable brands tell their stories in unique ways through our surround, alternate feeds, and ancillary programming. Our newly built creative sports team will help customize the experience for our partners.

Outside of sponsorships, brands can use Streaming TV ads to reach fans throughout games on Prime Video and Twitch. Like our sponsorships, these video ads are backed by Amazon’s first-party insights, bringing more value and insight into campaign performance for brands.

To succeed, though, Amazon Prime needs to deliver viewing numbers to advertisers. Reportedly, Amazon has told advertisers that it expects to see nightly viewership of about 12.5 million people for its inaugural season of TNF. We’ll soon see. Amazon agreed for Nielsen to track ratings for TNF, and ratings for the September broadcast are still forthcoming.

Amazon Prime also needs to deliver a desirable experience. Amazon promises alternative ways to watch TNF, including Dude Perfect, a popular trick-shot comedy group. Amazon Fire TV and Alexa are bringing new features to NFL fans as well, such as trivia and real-time access to statistics (which should appeal to Fantasy Football devotees). Early fan reactions to the September 15 broadcast were mixed, and it looks like Amazon has some technical issues with content buffering to fix. Of course, no one can predict the quality of an actual NFL game, but Amazon can certainly deliver on the overall experience. Let’s see how Amazon adapts.

The broadcast is also significant for another reason: a victory for first-party data, which is the information that businesses collect directly from their customers. Amazon will use first-party data to sell targeted ads to help drive revenue for the games. This is huge. Right now, third-party audience data is withering away thanks to Apple’s and Google’s privacy measures. Businesses that figure out how to monetize first-party data enjoy an enormous advantage. Amazon has already become the third biggest ad platform in the world (behind Google and Meta) by using first-party data to sell targeted ads. The ascendance of first-party data is one reason why retailer-based ad networks have become so popular.

Bottom line: what is your advertising game plan for connected TV?

Contact True Interactive

To succeed with connected TV advertising, contact True Interactive. We have deep experience with this format.

Why Google Delayed Its Cookie-Killing Effort to 2024

Why Google Delayed Its Cookie-Killing Effort to 2024

Google

To no one’s surprise, Google announced that the company is postponing its plans to kill third-party cookies on Google Chrome. The deadline, originally scheduled for 2022, will now be late 2024. If this news seems familiar to you, you are not alone. In 2021, Google announced a delay to 2023, but now 2023 no longer is feasible.

Why?

The problem for Google comes down to the reality that the company raked in more than $209 billion in advertising revenue in 2021.

Google Ad Revenues

As a result, Google needs to proceed very carefully in its phasing out of third-party cookies, which advertisers use to serve up targeted ads to people by tracking their browsing habits across the web. The fact that Google announced the delay after it disclosed subpar quarterly earnings shows just how wary Google is of rocking the boat. To protect its advertising business, Google must:

  • Come up with an alternative to third-party cookies that will satisfy advertisers. If Google fails to do that, Google will lose business to competitors such as Amazon Ads. Amazon Ads deliver targeted ads based on their own data beyond the reach of Google’s privacy controls. And Amazon Ads isn’t the only one, as I blogged recently.
  • Mollify regulators. Because Google is the largest online ad platform in the world, Google must convince regulators that its consumer privacy changes won’t give Google an unfair advantage. As we blogged in 2021, U.K. regulators have already slowed down Google’s efforts. Regulators are concerned that the demise of third-party cookies could give Google too much power because Google can rely on first-party data on sites such as YouTube (which Google owns) to support its ad business.

Google’s approach to satisfy advertisers consists of the Privacy Sandbox, where Google experiments with alternatives to third-party cookies that enable targeting with stricter privacy controls in place. Those alternatives include:

  • Fledge, for remarketing new ads.
  • Attribution reports, for telling advertisers which ads work without compromising consumer privacy.

But it is taking some time for Google to devise solutions as noted above, and not without some considerable trial and effort. For the record, here is Google’s rationale for the delay this time:

The most consistent feedback we’ve received is the need for more time to evaluate and test the new Privacy Sandbox technologies before deprecating third-party cookies in Chrome. This feedback aligns with our commitment to the [U.K. Competition and Markets Authority] to ensure that the Privacy Sandbox provides effective, privacy-preserving technologies and the industry has sufficient time to adopt these new solutions. This deliberate approach to transitioning from third-party cookies ensures that the web can continue to thrive, without relying on cross-site tracking identifiers or covert techniques like fingerprinting.

That rationale underlines both the impact of regulators and the difficulty in developing an answer to third-party cookies.

This latest delay has annoyed advertisers who had been taking measures to adapt to a cookie-less world and now find themselves delaying their plans. Others simply do not like the uncertainty of living in an extended transitional period while Apple enacts privacy control measures of its own. We suggest that for now, advertisers:

  • Accept the reality that as third-party cookies crumble and technology companies enact privacy controls, your ads will be less targeted than they were – at least until the industry adapts to alternative tools being developed. This does not mean you should stop advertising online. Online advertising remains the most efficient and cost-effective way to reach your audience.
  • Try alternatives beyond Google’s Privacy Sandbox. These include alternative IDs, contextual targeting, and seller-defined audiences.
  • Work with your advertising agency to understand what’s happening and how you may be affected. That’s exactly what our clients are doing with True Interactive. That’s what we’re here for.
  • Don’t abandon ship with ads that rely on web tracking. As you can see with Google’s announcement, things may not proceed the way Google plans.
  • Do invest in ways to leverage your own (first-party) customer data to create personalized ads. We can help you do that.
  • Consider ad platforms such as Amazon Advertising and Walmart Connect, which give businesses entrée to a vast base of customers who search and shop on Amazon and Walmart. True Interactive offers services on both platforms in addition to our longstanding work on Google, Bing, and other platforms. Learn more about our services with Amazon Ads here and Walmart here.

One other important consideration: remember, Google is not the only company doing away with third-party cookie tracking. Apple did so with Safari in 2020, and Mozilla with Firefox. The writing is on the wall: it’s time to adapt to a world without third-party cookies. True Interactive can help you do that.

Contact True Interactive

To succeed with online advertising, contact True Interactive. Read about some of our client work here.

Lead image source: https://unsplash.com/@laurenedvalson

For Further Reading