Since Google joined Apple in putting user privacy above a highly efficient and lucrative digital marketing business, concern about the impact on media performance has been widespread and not without good reason. Cookies and the ability to understand users as they move across the web is the cornerstone of digital marketing (digital performance especially so).

However, while 90% of us will become harder to reach in digital channels as a result of the change, Google estimates that advertisers will only experience a 5% loss in efficacy.

Whether or not this is an over-statement of the success of their Privacy Sandbox will remain to be seen, however we believe there are 4 reasons why the advertising industry should be more optimistic about a cookie-less world (and spoiler alert – none of them are based on tech-enabled work-arounds or audience-IDs)…

  • Quality experiences will clean up: Let’s be honest – huge parts of the existing cookie-based internet as we know it isn’t good. There are countless poor-quality websites while unethical or downright illegal practices like clickbait or fraud are all too common. Whether Google and Apple realise it, their stand will clean up the internet with advertiser-funded sites having to provide valuable experiences to attract audiences and remain in business.
  • Brands can focus on growth: One of the scourges of performance marketing is wastage. Cookies allow brands to almost reduce wastage to zero. But the problem with the endless pursuit of efficiency gains is that you forget to think about growth opportunities beyond those already in-market. A great ad for a great product can make someone go from unaware to purchase in an instant. The shift should cause brands to refocus on higher funnel comms reaching new customers which should mean more creative work, more diverse audience targeting, and richer and braver media plans.
  • A more standardised approach to audiences: Google’s Privacy Sandbox will define the audiences that advertisers can buy as being as rich in behavioural insights as any cookie-based approach but aggregated up into groups and therefore protecting the identity of individuals. While this is great news for end-user privacy, Google will also bridge the gap between offline and online audience definitions, meaning greater potential for cross-media targeting, measurement and storytelling.
  • The alchemy of context planning re-emerges: Context in advertising has always been important and often the key to unlocking the exact behaviour a brand craves. In the old- world context = a user’s cookies, blind to anything that didn’t leave a digital footprint. The new world will once again force advertisers and planners to truly understand behaviours AND attitudes AND motivations AND the wider world.

Plenty of unknowns remain – especially how Google will only limit the damage to 5%. However, we’re more optimistic than most about how this will enable better and more creative ways for our clients and their brands to grow without there being a privacy trade-off.

Isn’t a more sustainable digital world something to be optimistic about?