How Google’s Cookie Restrictions Could Benefit Advertisers and Publishers

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Google is always working to ensure as many consumer eyeballs as possible remain on its platforms. This truism holds the first obvious benefit for advertisers — a captive audience. And that audience is the major thing to remember for marketers who are upset about losing third-party tracking capabilities on Chrome later this year.

Pushing Google not to block third-party cookies could backfire. If advertisers want to be where the consumers are, they might want to keep in mind that the changes Google makes are generally aimed at making those consumers happy enough to stay. Generally.

Here’s an example of why when, for instance, Google looks out for itself, consumers fire back. And marketers can extrapolate from there how this lesson reveals what could happen to advertisers looking out for their interests instead of those of consumers:

Google recently instituted automatic ad blocking on Chrome. In what seems like a related matter, Google was then going to block third-party ad blockers. But consumers let Google know they liked their third-party ad blockers — such as uBlock Origin, Adblock Plus, Brave, DuckDuckGo, and Cliqz’z Ghostery — and wanted to keep them.

Writes ZDNet in February:

“A study analyzing the performance of Chrome ad blocker extensions published on Friday has proven wrong claims made by Google developers last month, when a controversy broke out surrounding their decision to modify the Chrome browser in such a way that would have eventually killed off ad blockers and many other extensions. … Hours after the Ghostery team published its study and benchmark results, the Chrome team backtracked on their planned modifications.”

What’s Changing in Chrome

“Later this year,” Chrome will provide consumers with the ability to see “how sites are using cookies, as well as simpler controls for cross-site cookies,” write Ben Galbraith, director of Chrome Product Management, and Justin Schuh, director of Chrome Engineering on May 7 in the Chromium Blog.

Consumers can allow “single domain cookies” to remain, which the writers say will help consumers keep user logins and settings on the sites where they don’t want to repeatedly input the information.

“It will also enable browsers to provide clear information about which sites are setting these cookies, so users can make informed choices about how their data is used,” write Galbraith and Schuh.

They provided a link so developers can learn how to comply with Chrome’s changes.

How Google Says Advertisers Will Be Impacted

Writes Prabhakar Raghavan, SVP of Google Ads and Commerce on May 7 in the Google Ads Blog:

“Our experience shows that people prefer ads that are personalized to their needs and interests — but only if those ads offer transparency, choice, and control. However, the digital advertising ecosystem can be complex and opaque, and many people don’t feel they have enough visibility into, or control over, their web experience.”

Reiterating Galbraith and Schuh’s sentiments, Raghavan points out that it will be easy for consumers to enable their bank’s cookies to remain in place, for example.

Says Raghavan:

“Chrome intends to make it easier for users to block or clear cookies used in a third-party context, with minimal disruption to cookies used in a first-party context.”

So advertisers will know consumers using Chrome who see their ads want to see their ads, which will mean they’re more engaged. This will also allow marketers to enhance their personalization efforts with these engaged consumers, because they will trust that their privacy and choices are being respected.

When Google creates the Chrome browser extensions and allows advertiser to use them in the coming months, Raghavan says he hopes to see advertisers emulate what Google is doing with its properties:

“For the ads that Google shows on our own properties and those of our publishing partners, we will disclose new information through an open-source browser extension that will work across different browsers. The new information will include the names of other companies that we know were involved in the process that resulted in an ad — for example, ad tech companies that acted as intermediaries between the advertiser and publisher, and companies with ad trackers present in an ad. The browser extension will also surface the factors used to tailor an ad to a user, which we provide today.


Heather Fletcher is a freelance reporter for Adweek. She covers performance and direct marketing.
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