More than 50% of advertisers concerned about the removal of cookies, finds Kantar

Kantar has released its 2022 global Media Trends and Predictions report, revealing that 59% of advertisers are concerned about the inability to track online media via cookies.

Earlier this year, Google announced that it is delaying its plans to phase out third-party cookies in the Chrome browser for campaign management, targeting, and measurement to mid-late 2023.

In July, Google updated its timeline for the rollout of FLoC via its Privacy Sandbox. FLoC, which stands for Federated Learning of Cohorts, is Google’s solution to enabling advertisers to create targeted ads without exposing the details of the individual users being targeted, via the use of third-party cookies. It is part of Google’s The Privacy Sandbox, that aims to create web technologies that both protect people’s privacy online and give companies and developers the tools to build digital businesses successfully.

Kantar’s report found that in 2020, the majority (64%) of publishers were concerned about the inability to track online media via cookies, while for advertisers this was just 49%. Over the course of 2021, however, as the ramifications of Google’s move gained prominence and the consequences laid bare, that figure increased to 59%.

As 2021 draws to a close, most brands and agencies have also found themselves thinking harder about their own first-party data strategies, and how to use these with high-quality – and fully consented – third-party data.

According to the report, 60% of advertisers predict that enhancing their own data with data from other sources will become even more important in the coming years, and 60% expect insights from their own data to increase, rising to 74% amongst larger companies (10,000+ employees.)

The report noted that this signals a full endorsement of hybrid data strategies that fully encompass privacy. It also means doing things differently over the next 18 months to hit the ground running when cookies are finally deprecated. The fundamental trend Kantar noted,, however, is that a serious recalibration of the commercial internet is now underway, the impact of which will touch every player in the online ecosystem.

So, what does this mean as we move into 2022?

The report cited that no one solution will replace cookies. There will be no single solution to replace third-party tracking cookies 13. Instead, a portfolio approach will likely be taken by most advertisers, alongside a continual reappraisal of data sources.

In addition, the report said that more technologies and techniques will also enter the market in 2022 – some more radically different to cookies than others – while large platforms will look to machine learning and cryptographic techniques to layer privacy-enhancing technologies over their digital infrastructures. It’s still too early to back the winners, but longer term expect a move towards proxy-based targeting systems and contextual advertising, the latter a technology and technique favoured by most players, especially those who see unified IDs as too similar to the cookies they’re supposed to replace.

Furthermore, the report shared that panel-based data will be reappraised. Although there will be a shift to first-party data strategies as the commercial internet looks to build in stronger privacy protocols, there will still be a place for third-party data – so long as it’s privacy compliant, consented and trustworthy. Already, 80% of advertisers want their own in-house segmentations to enable media planning and activation14. That’s why panel data, which ticks every box, is set for a serious reappraisal in 2022.Consequently, third-party data will become more valuable and trusted, and permissioned data will become a differentiator, not a commodity. But ultimately, the future will take a balanced hybrid approach between owned and third-party data sources.

Lastly, the beginning of the end for uncontrolled tech giant expansion. Just as privacy regulations have forced a rethink of tracking cookies, a search for a replacement has drawn more attention to the sheer scale and competitive advantage of the tech giants.Indeed, concerns over unfair competitive advantage have already hampered efforts to seek some cookie alternatives, and this – alongside global outages and accusations of wrongdoing elsewhere in the tech sector – could signify a shift in tone from governments who want to better regulate and tax the most powerful businesses.


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