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

Why Walmart Connect Is Winning

Why Walmart Connect Is Winning

Walmart

For the first time, Walmart shared how much money its advertising business, Walmart Connect, is generating. And business is good. In announcing its quarterly earnings February 17, Walmart said that Walmart Connect achieved $2.1 billion in revenue in 2021. Why is Walmart Connect succeeding?

What Is Walmart Connect?

Walmart Connect is the name of Walmart’s advertising business. Walmart Connect creates targeted advertising by capitalizing on the customer data it has accumulated about search and shopping on Walmart.com and in Walmart stores. Walmart Connect offers many ad units. For example, Search Brand Amplifier makes it possible for a brand’s logo, a custom headline, and up to three of its products appear at the top of a web page (on Walmart.com), thus improving brand recognition and showcasing a company’s product portfolio.

What Did Walmart Announce?

In a conference call with Wall Street analysts, Walmart said that Walmart Connect is growing remarkably well. According to Walmart’s Chief Financial Officer Brett Biggs, “Walmart Connect advertising experienced robust sales growth this year with a strong pipeline of new advertisers and large growth opportunities ahead. In fact, the number of active advertisers using Walmart Connect grew more than 130% year over year. And about half of the ad sales came from automated channels in Q4, more than double last year. We expect Walmart Connect to continue to scale over the next few years with plans to become a top 10 ad business in the midterm.”

Why Is Walmart Connect Succeeding?

Walmart Connect is benefitting because the company relies on first-party customer data. Ad platforms that rely on first-party customer data are becoming more attractive as businesses such as Apple and Google make it harder for advertisers to capitalize on third-party customer behavior data to create online ads. First-party data is beyond the reach of these privacy initiatives. That’s a big reason why retailer-based ad businesses are flourishing – and Walmart is not the only one, as we blogged here.

Another reason for the success of Walmart Connect is that the company has offered automated advertising tools. As noted above, in a call with Wall Street analysts, Walmart said that half the advertising revenue in 2021 came through automated channels. This suggests that Walmart is doing a good job offering programmatic advertising — or the use of automated technology for media buying (the process of buying advertising space), as opposed to traditional (often manual) methods of digital advertising.

Although we don’t have any numbers yet, it’s also likely that Walmart’s physical stores will play a role in the growth of Walmart Connect. Walmart Connect sells ads on more than 170,000 screens — including televisions and self-checkout kiosk screens — located inside more than 4,500 U.S. stores. For example, TV Wall Ads provide placement of an advertisement on thousands of in-store TV screens in stores, with the goal being to influence shoppers while they’re making purchase decisions. Keep an eye on the in-store ad units. They are primed for growth as people become more comfortable shopping in stores post-pandemic.

What Should Advertisers Do?

  • Consider retailer-based ad networks as a complement to your existing digital ad strategy, not as a replacement. If your strategy focuses on Facebook and Google, for instance, don’t move your ad dollars over to a retailer network. Remember that Facebook and Google also already offer proven advertising products that capitalize on their vast user base. For example, location-based digital advertising tools help strengthen Google’s advertising services at the local level.
  • Work with an agency partner that knows the terrain. For instance, at True Interactive, we complement our history of helping businesses advertising on Google and social media with expertise across retailer ad networks such as Amazon and Walmart.
  • Learn more about the ad products that might apply to you – and those products are evolving. In 2022, more retailers will use first-party data to help businesses create more targeted ads off-site – meaning advertising across the web, as well as via 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 More Insight

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

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

Why Retailers Are Launching Ad Businesses

Why Retailers Are Launching Ad Businesses

Advertising

Best Buy recently announced the launch of Best Buy Ads, a new in-house media company. Best Buy Ads offer a range of ad units including paid search ads, onsite and offsite display ads, onsite and offsite video ads, social ads, and in-store ads. According to Best Buy, Best Buy Ads capitalizes on the fact that Best Buy interacts with its customers three billion times a year. From those interactions, Best Buy learns about the search and shopping habits of its customers. This makes it possible for the retailer to sell ad units that target a specific demographic: people with a strong interest in consumer technology.

Best Buy is the latest retailer to launch an ad business. Other examples include:

  • Walmart Connect, the leading ad business run by a brick-and-mortar retailer.

As with Best Buy, they offer services ranging from display to media buying. They all have one thing in common: they monetize their customer data.

Why an Ad Business Appeals to a Retailer Like Best Buy

An online advertising business is appealing to Best Buy for a number of reasons, including:

  • This is a proven model. The growth of Amazon Advertising (Amazon’s own in-house ad operation) speaks for itself. Amazon Advertising is so successful that Amazon is now challenging Google’s and Facebook’s dominance of online advertising. In light of this, we’ve witnessed a slew of retailers jumping into the ad business. For example, Walmart Connect (Walmart’s ad operation) has enjoyed strong growth.
  • Customer data is a competitive weapon. Retailers such as Best Buy collect a treasure trove of data about their customers, starting with their search and shopping preferences. This data gives each retailer an edge because they can promise advertisers access to a targeted audience with intent to buy. As noted, Best Buy targets consumers in the market for home electronics. By contrast, the recently launched ad platform from retailer Macy’s targets a fashion-conscious consumer. Walmart promises entrée to grocery shoppers and price-conscious consumers. Of course, retailers must know how to mine all this data and then develop attractive ad units. But the data provides a built-in advantage.
  • Retailers’ customer data is getting more attractive to advertisers. Businesses are looking for alternative ways to reach consumers amid the demise of third-party cookies, which are crucial for third-party ad targeting, and the advent of stricter consumer privacy controls on Apple’s iOS, which has also made it harder for businesses to target consumers with ads. With third-party ad targeting across the web threatened, platforms that give advertisers entree to shoppers within retailers’ walled gardens are more appealing. Basically, retailers are using their own customer data to do what Apple and Google won’t do for advertisers anymore.
  • e-Commerce is booming. Online ad businesses in particular are catching fire because of the e-commerce boom. According to S&P Global Market Intelligence, “The e-commerce industry is expected to hold on to pandemic-elevated sales into 2022, with big retailers including Amazon.com Inc. and Walmart Inc set to benefit as consumers stick to new, hybrid shopping patterns.” S&P Global Market Intelligence says U.S. e-commerce sales are on track to exceed $1 trillion for the first time in 2022. Businesses want to reach those shoppers, which creates a demand for online advertising. The surge in online commerce also means more people are using retailers’ sites to search and shop, which creates more valuable customer data that retailers’ ad businesses can monetize. This also means advertising.

What Advertisers Should Do

  • Consider retailer-based ad networks as a complement to your existing digital ad strategy, not as a replacement. If your strategy focuses on Facebook and Google, for instance, don’t move your ad dollars over to a retailer network. Remember that Facebook and Google also already offer proven advertising products that capitalize on their vast user base. For example, location-based digital advertising tools help strengthen Google’s advertising services at the local level.
  • Do, however, monitor the effectiveness of your advertising on Facebook and Google amid the demise of third-party cookies and the onset of Apple’s App Tracking Transparency, which includes more privacy controls that may make Facebook ads less effective (which remains to be seen).
  • Work with an agency partner that knows the terrain. For instance, at True Interactive, we complement our history of helping businesses advertising on Google and social media with expertise across retailer ad networks such as Amazon and Walmart.
  • Learn more about the ad products that might apply to you – and those products are evolving. In 2022, more retailers will use first-party data to help businesses create more targeted ads off-site – meaning advertising across the web, as well as via connected TV.

Contact True Interactive

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

For More Insight

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.

Walgreens Doubles Down on Its Advertising Business

Walgreens Doubles Down on Its Advertising Business

Advertising

In December 2020, Walgreens launched its own advertising business, Walgreens Advertising Group, wag.  Now Walgreens is doubling down on advertising by expanding wag’s capabilities into over-the-top (OTT) services, connected TV (CTV) and traditional linear TV across 100 apps and 10 supply-side platforms, with an inventory of 2.5 billion daily impressions. This development demonstrates a growing trend of retailers using their customer data to provide advertising services.

What Walgreens Announced

Walgreens has touted wag as an effective way to leverage insights from 100+ million Walgreens loyalty members and one billion daily digital touchpoints with customers to create personalized advertising. wag provides businesses access to advertising platforms on Walgreens-owned and third-party channels, with the potential of achieving higher match rates versus the industry standard method of digital media buying. wag provides the ability to reach shoppers across digital display, video, social, streaming audio, email as well as Walgreens digital platforms and stores. On May 17, Walgreens announced that wag will extend its reach into television. According to Walgreens, the new capability consists of:

  • The addition of OTT & CTV inventory accessible via the wagDSP — a proprietary programmatic buying technology that integrates Walgreens customer and transaction data with dynamic creative capabilities and real-time optimization.
  • A first-to-market collaboration with OpenAP, and integration with the OpenID that enables brands to reach audiences powered by Walgreens first-party data as part of their television buys. Brands will be able to collaborate with Walgreens to execute against deterministic audiences now, and closed loop measurement will be in place by the start of the broadcast year.

Inventory is sourced through 100+ apps and 10 supply-side platforms with 2.5 billion+ available impressions daily, including access to inventory from key platforms.

Brands activating against this inventory can do so with all of the same functionality, optimization, and measurement capability as in digital video and display executed through the wagDSP. This enables people based media targeting, with measurement and real-time optimization.

Why the Expansion of Walgreens Advertising Group Matters

This news matters for two reasons:

  • wag’s expansion is part of a broader effort by retailers to capitalize on their own-first party data to provide advertising services. Retailers such as AmazonDollar TreeKrogerMacy’sTarget, and Walmart are all monetizing their first-party customer data by building ad businesses. Each retailer can give advertisers access to different types of consumers. For instance, wag gives advertisers access to consumers in the health and wellness space, and Macy’s is geared toward businesses wanting to reach fashion-conscious shoppers. We expect more of these platforms to emerge as businesses seek alternative ways to reach consumers amid the demise of third-party cookies, which are crucial for third-party ad targeting. With third-party ad targeting across the web threatened, platforms that give advertisers entree to shoppers within retailers’ walled gardens are more appealing.

What Advertisers Should Do

We suggest that advertisers:

  • Consider retailer-based ad networks as a complement to your existing digital ad strategy, not as a replacement. If your strategy focuses on Facebook and Google, for instance, don’t move your ad dollars over to a retailer network. Remember that Facebook and Google also already offer proven advertising products that capitalize on their vast user base. For example, location-based digital advertising tools help strengthen Google’s advertising services at the local level.
  • Do, however, monitor the effectiveness of your advertising on Facebook and Google amid the demise of third-party cookies and the onset of Apple’s App Tracking Transparency, which includes more privacy controls that may make Facebook ads less effective (which remains to be seen).
  • Learn more about the ad products that might apply to you – and those products are evolving, as the expansion of wag demonstrates. In addition, we recently blogged about how Amazon is creating more ad units. The time may come soon when advertising on the web means constantly capitalizing on walled gardens’ offerings.
  • Work with an agency partner that knows the terrain. For instance, at True Interactive, we help businesses advertise through connected TV, complementing our deep expertise with online advertising on Google, social media, and the retailer networks such as Amazon and Walmart.

Contact True Interactive

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

Why Macy’s Launched an Online Advertising Platform

Why Macy’s Launched an Online Advertising Platform

Advertising

Macy’s is capitalizing on a big-time trend in online advertising. The retailer recently discussed with investors the growth of an in-house online media network that sells ads to brands. The Macy’s Media Network, launched in August 2020, has already generated $35 million in revenue. The growth of the network underscores how big retailers are becoming advertising partners.

The Macy’s Media Network

Here’s how the network works:

  • An in-house Macy’s team offers advertisers digital formats like sponsored product, website display, and physical media ads.
  • Macy’s draws on all the data it has accumulated about Macy’s customers (including customer behavior data from the Macy’s website – known as first-party data) to ensure that the above ad formats target customers based on their shopping habits. As Macy’s says on its website, “We connect our shoppers to your brands through a wide range of advertising services. And it’s all driven by data . . . First-party data helps us find your perfect audience, whether it be on or off our site.”
  • The above ads appear on the Macy’s website or off it.
  • Macy’s describes its audience as “Fashion-focused customers who LOVE to shop.”

If the above approach already sounds familiar to you — well, it should. Macy’s is following a model that Amazon has already mastered via Amazon Advertising and that Walmart is developing with Walmart Connect. In addition, retailers ranging from Kroger to Target are building their own networks in an attempt to put their own first-party data to work and generate more revenue streams in a digital-first world. The two clear leaders are:

  • Walmart Connect. Walmart is just beginning to flex its muscle to provide advertising products that are similar to Amazon’s. What makes Walmart Connect stand apart is the way Walmart can also tap into shopping purchase behavior inside Walmart stores.

Why would Macy’s enter a market that is already becoming crowded? Because Macy’s, like any retailer with an ad platform, has something no one else has: its own first-party data. The data that Macy’s collects about its own customers gives potential insights into a targeted audience consisting of shoppers who are especially interested in beauty and fashion.

Here is what we believe will happen with retailer-based ad networks:

  • They will proliferate. Retailers are under tremendous pressure to improve their margins. As more shopping behavior shifts online, it makes sense to wrest more value from their customer data.
  • They will become more specialized. Macy’s, for instance, is focused on fashion and beauty customers. Consider how many other retailers could build up ad networks. Best Buy could offer services for advertisers wanting to reach consumers of high-tech consumer products, for example.

What Advertisers Should Do

We suggest that advertisers:

  • Consider retailer-based ad networks as a complement to your existing digital ad strategy, not as a replacement. If your strategy focuses on Facebook and Google, for instance, don’t move your ad dollars over to a retailer network. Remember that Facebook and Google also already offer proven advertising products that capitalize on their vast user base. For example, location-based digital advertising tools help strengthen Google’s advertising services at the local level.
  • Learn more about the ad products that might apply to you – and those products are evolving. For instance, Amazon recently launched Amazon Live, which makes it possible for retailers to use livestreams to sell products – part of the live commerce trend we blogged about recently. But if live commerce is not your cup of tea, ad products such as Display and Sponsored Brands may be more appealing.

Meanwhile, Macy’s expects more growth for its own ad platform. In a recent call with investors, Jeff Gennette, Macy’s chair and chief executive officer, told investors, “Looking ahead, we see a lot of promise in our ability to expand our monetization engine, while cultivating greater customer engagement with more relevant and personalized content and offers.”

Contact True Interactive

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

Walmart Asserts Its Leadership in Advertising

Walmart Asserts Its Leadership in Advertising

Walmart

Walmart is thinking big.

After a year during which the world’s largest retailer doubled ad revenue, Walmart is partnering with advertising technology company The Trade Desk to build a new advertising platform. The goal? To make Walmart an even bigger player in the advertising landscape than it is today, and take on rival Amazon as an advertising leader. Read on to learn more.

What’s In A Name?

The initiative begins with a name change. Janey Whiteside, chief consumer officer at Walmart, has announced that the retailer is rebranding its media business. Goodbye Walmart Media Group. Hello Walmart Connect. The new name hints at the sea changes in Walmart’s approach to advertising, including an expansion that links the retailer’s advertising business to in-store media.

Walmart Connect

It’s a canny move. While many retailers ignore their physical properties by conflating digital with online-only, Walmart is integrating digital with brick-and-mortar, in the process competing with Amazon’s muscular online presence. According to Reuters, the retailer will sell ads on more than 170,000 screens—including televisions and self-checkout kiosk screens—located inside more than 4,500 U.S. stores. Mark Boidman, managing director and head of media and tech services at the independent investment bank and financial services company PJ Solomon, believes the plan has promise. He notes:

The ability to use on-premise media, and in particular digital signage and digital out-of-home media, allows brands and retailers to be reactive and provide contextually relevant content and advertising, Think coffee promotions in the morning or marketing hot chocolate or snow shovels ahead of a big snow storm.

That means the messaging can’t — and won’t — be one-size fits all. After all, shoppers in Florida are unlikely to relate to snow shovel ads at any time. Walmart understands this; as reported in Ad Age, brand messages will be delivered specific to date, time, and geography.

Part of Walmart’s initiative also capitalizes on the company’s access to in-store and online shopper data. As the Wall Street Journal reports, this trove of data may well give Walmart’s demand-side platform an advantage over that of rival ad sellers, and help the company effectively compete for a bigger share of marketer dollars.

Implications of Walmart Connect for Brands

Walmart wants to share its data riches — with brands. By doing so, Walmart creates a win-win situation in which consumer needs are anticipated and marketers can remain agile in the face of changing need. “Walmart is pioneering a new frontier in digital advertising, providing marketers with access to shopper data for the first time, in a way that both protects consumer privacy and improves the consumer experience, Jeff Green, CEO and co-founder of The Trade Desk, noted in a statement. “In doing so, marketers will be able to create much more refined, relevant and measurable advertising campaigns, which can be adapted on the fly.”

What would that adaptation look like? For starters, marketers can target ads to audiences based on data about shopping behavior. In addition, advertisers can monitor sales in brick-and-mortar Walmart stores in real time, subsequently tweaking marketing campaigns as needed.

“We have this unparalleled source of data that we can bring to bear,” Whiteside says. “Who else can actually tell you if a customer saw something online and then a week later, physically bought it in the store?”

Smarter Advertising across the Web

Walmart isn’t just sharing data with brands available in Walmart stores. The company’s demand-side platform will allow brands not even sold at Walmart to use the trove of data — for a price — to better understand consumer habits, and subsequently craft messaging appropriate to those shoppers. In the past, most advertisers used the company’s data to expose shoppers to ads on Walmart properties — Walmart’s website and app, for example. The retailer means to expand that reach across the entire Web.

Contact True Interactive

In-store digital advertising. Capitalizing on consumer data so that both brands and shoppers benefit. In its aspirations to be a media powerhouse, Walmart is thinking outside the box to bring digital advertising to the next level.

Learn more about our expertise with Walmart Connect here.