Will cookie deprecation be delayed again? The Sandbox saga continues

Welcome to the February edition of Spotlight, your monthly digest of what’s making news in the world of digital marketing and adtech.

What we have for you today: The Privacy Sandbox comes under scrutiny, ad fraud shoots upwards, and questions arise over first-party data.

Competition concerns gather around Sandbox…

Think you’ve seen the end of tracking cookies? Then think again. This month saw Google on the receiving end of a couple of major blows that could well see cookie deprecation in Chrome kicked further down the road.

First came the news that the UK’s Competition and Markets Authority (CMA) believes that Google must do more to address issues raised around its proposed Privacy Sandbox if it is to deprecate third-party cookies this year. The Privacy Sandbox is Google’s attempt to create web standards to access user information without compromising privacy.

The CMA is worried that Google may benefit from user-activity data while limiting competitors’ access to the same data. It has also expressed concern that Google’s ability to control the inclusion of ad tech rivals could unfairly advantage its services.

…and technology comes under scrutiny

Shortly after this announcement came the news that IAB Tech Lab had taken a long hard look at Google’s Privacy Sandbox and found it wanting. Indeed, of the 44 basic advertising use cases looked at by IAB Tech Lab, only a handful remain feasible using the APIs in the Privacy Sandbox.

Google has dominated the adtech market for years, but its struggles with Sandbox suggest that now may be the time to relinquish some of this control. By embracing the open web and opening its walled garden – even if just a little – to alternative solutions, Google can accelerate the deprecation of cookies and provide greater choice for brands and advertisers.

At present Google’s ad revenues continue to shoot upwards while open-web publishers get less and less. A playing field that is already far from level is getting more uneven by the day.

This is surely unnecessary given that there are privacy-centric alternatives to tracking cookies developed and ready to go.  By embracing these alternatives Google could help bring about a fairer market and overcome the limitations of Privacy Sandbox.

Getting a grip on ad fraud

Google’s ongoing woes are only one of the big challenges facing publishers and advertisers. New research predicts that advertisers are likely going to waste over $71 billion on traffic generated by invalid activity, such as by bots and automated scripts. This is an increase of 33% from 2022 and comes at a time when ad spend growth is slowing to 5.3%.

Ad fraud both wastes budget and affects the efficacy of marketing campaigns. Advertisers and brands should assess new approaches to addressing this issue. One such approach is to use verification services that guarantee that advertisements are being served to real people – and that these people are in the audiences the brand needs to reach.

Making first-party data work

As reported in Ad Exchanger, there are a number of drawbacks when it comes to using first-party data in digital marketing including a fast half-life (“first-party cookies and device IDs disappear, IP addresses change, emails turn out to be placeholder spam accounts”) and the lack of skilled professionals to manage customer data platforms and cloud tools and to analyse data.

Fortunately, these limitations are surmountable. Solutions such as telco-verified IDs enable publishers to link user-specific consented first-party IDs to create a complete picture of users across the open web and devices to combat the fast half-life. This approach removes the need for specialist tools and data science teams and unlocks a wealth of data for real-time personalised campaigning.

Given Google’s ongoing issues with its Privacy Sandbox, the effective use of first-party data has never been more important, and brands and publishers alike must find a way to make it work.

Securing consent for data use

Finally, we’re returning to an issue that has come up frequently over the past few months: data consent. A group of digital and democratic rights groups, NGOs and not-for-profits have contacted the EU’s regulatory body for data protection asking it to reject Meta’s “consent or pay” approach to processing citizens’ personal data. The group argues that the approach will create a loophole in GDPR that could impact people’s privacy rights.

Novatiq is in their corner. By providing a clear consent mechanism and value exchange publishers can continue to provide the advertising-funded content and services that consumers want while protecting their privacy. Trying to force consumers into sharing their data will likely lead to a loss of customers and is ultimately going against the clear direction of travel for the internet.

More from Novatiq

We’ve had a great MWC this year, and we can feel real momentum building around the telco-verified IDs. If you were unable to meet us at the show and would like to get in touch to learn more about offering ID verification services for digital marketing, then get in touch.

As always, you can also learn more by reading our latest blogs. This month we’re examining how brands can combat ad fraud, and looking at the future of adtech.

Ready to learn more?

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