Cookie-less countdown: Advertisers fear loss of third-party cookies, while creatives see brighter future

90% of UK brands ‘have no solution in place for the removal of third-party cookies’

As Google prepares to end third party cookies by 2022, research into senior marketers’ opinions of the move revealed some starkly contrasting results, with creatives far more positive than senior advertisers about the change.

The study conducted for Mymyne showed that, while over a third (39%) of those in creative roles felt the impact on digital marketing will be ‘highly positive’ only 13% of those in advertising felt this way.

Conversely, a quarter (25%) of those in senior advertising jobs felt the move would have a ‘highly negative’ impact on digital advertising, compared to 0% from creative roles.

When asked about the impact Google’s decision to end third party cookies might have on their business, almost a third (31%) of those in creative jobs felt it would be ‘highly positive’, while only 12% in advertising roles felt this to be the case. Just 7% of those in creative roles felt the impact on their business would be ‘highly negative’, while a quarter (25%) from advertising felt this was true.

Senior advertisers are also far keener to embrace Google’s Privacy Sandbox. Overall, nearly half (48%) of those surveyed said they would sign up. Of those in advertising roles, this jumped to 81%, while less than half (43%) of creatives said they plan to play in the Sandbox.

Director and founder of Mymyne, John Regan, said: “These results demonstrate that, while advertisers who rely on third party cookies are keen to find an alternative data source in the Sandbox, those in senior creative roles are more focused on ways to engage audiences in a meaningful way. This approach means they won’t need cookie data to fuel their marketing campaigns, because they can develop direct relationships that foster strong brand advocacy and loyalty.”

When considering alternatives to Google’s Privacy Sandbox, server-side cookie-based networks were the top choice for almost half (43%) of advertising executives. This suggests advertisers are seeking ways to continue the status quo, by simply using alternative data sources. This is despite evidence suggesting consumers now feel irritated by the way brands use their data without permission, often resulting in unwelcome and intrusive spam. In 2019 Edelman reported that only 34% of audiences trust brands and 55% are concerned about data and IT.
First-party data was the second favourite alternative option for one in five advertisers (19%) and contextual advertising was third (12%). However, almost a third of senior creatives favoured first-party data (31%) most likely because this enables them to build a relationship directly with their target audience.

Second choice for around one-in-five creatives was contextual advertising (19%) and thirdly device fingerprinting (13%). Only 13% of creatives said private cookie networks would be their favourite alternative tool, in contrast to the advertising executives who still seem keen to cling to their cookies.

When it came to third party data for advertising audience selection, creative marketers proved far less reliant on it than advertising executives. Only 13% of creatives said they are ‘highly reliant’ on 3rd party data, while almost a third (31%) of senior advertisers say they were ‘highly reliant’ on it. This reliance from advertisers may suggest they are seeking work-arounds to obtaining data, while creative marketers are less concerned about lack of data, and more focused on seeking ways to engage directly with their audience. The benefits of this approach are twofold – a first party data source, removing reliance on third party cookies, plus an opportunity to build stronger, more emotive brand engagement. The challenge though is scale, few brands will be able to generate enough first party data to continue to run scaled digital campaigns outside of the walled gardens.

Creative marketers also felt more confident than advertisers in their understanding of exactly how their organisation used third party data. While a quarter (25%) of creative marketers felt they had a ‘strong’ understanding of third-party data use, only 7% of advertising executives felt this confident, although nearly two thirds (69%) felt their understanding was ‘reasonable’ compared to just one-in-five (19%) creatives.

As first-party databases look set to become essential, 12% of senior creatives and 19% of advertisers admitted they do not currently have a first-party marketing database. This suggests there is much work to be done before Google turns off its third-party cookies if marketers are to target audiences effectively in the long term.

John Regan concludes: “This survey demonstrates a significant contrast in attitudes and suggests a lack of collaboration between advertisers and creatives when planning and implementing campaigns. Zero percent of creatives feel the end of cookies will have a highly negative impact on digital advertising, and from an audience perspective perhaps they’re right. From the point of view of running targeted digital campaigns at scale however, lack of access to cookies will be challenging for many brands.”

“The fact that the server-side cookie based networks are the most popular alternative amongst advertisers is a major concern. It ignores the problems of disengagement and data misuse that got us here in the first place and smacks of repeating the mistakes of the past with a different technology.”

The Survey of 100 senior marketing professionals was conducted in March 2020 by SurveyMonkey.

Source: Mymyne