This week Google made a major announcement about the collection of cookie data and how they allow targeting and tracking on their platform. The March 3 blog post outlined a new path forward for Google, while also addressing some alternative targeting options put forth by others in the industry.
The issue with this week's announcement is that Google already announced in 2019 that they wouldn't track cookies starting in 2022. Anyone using cookie data for targeting needed to come up with a new solution. Then Apple announced last year that they would stop sharing Device IDs on iPhones, so if you were using that for targeting you needed a new solution.
In the meantime a few solutions have been proposed for the industry to use to address these issues. The leading one is called Unified ID 2.0 and is lead by The Trade Desk. It basically uses email addresses as the central way to track and target users across all devices.
However, in this announcement by Google they specifically said that they don't believe email tracking is the right approach, which threw off everyone. They also said they won't allow any third party tracking to be used on Google, which is huge. For example, some mobile companies use Mobile Advertising IDs (MAIDs) to track and target, and can do that on Google by uploading those audiences to the Google platform (DV360) and targeting those MAIDs. That won't be an option in the near future.
The big picture here is that Google already has a ton of data about everyone and doesn't need cookies, or anything else at this point. They have their own system called Privacy Sandbox for targeting that they say takes into account any privacy issues and is a better way to target and track users. If you want to run ads with Google you will have to use that option and nothing else.
But most advertisers don't just run on Google. They run on multiple platforms. And if they own their own data they like to target the same users across multiple platforms. That won't be an option anymore. So if Walmart has a ton of 1st party data, will they be able to bring that to Google and target on their platform? From this announcement it sounds like no, but would Google really turn down Walmart? And if they made an exception for them, where do they draw the line?
Lots of fallout still to come from this. Google isn't the only game in town, they're just the biggest. This is a bit of a gamble by them to say "Want to run on Google, play by our rules or play somewhere else." The question is how many advertisers will opt to play somewhere else.