WordPress database error: [Table 'wordpress.wp_cleantalk_sfw' doesn't exist]
SELECT network, mask, status, source FROM wp_cleantalk_sfw WHERE network IN (63963136,64225280,64356352,64421888,64425984,64426112,64426176,64426208,64426216,64426220,64426222) AND network = 64426222 & mask AND 76895 ORDER BY status DESC

The End of Browser Cookies Creates PR & Marketing Challenges, Opportunities

browser cookies advertising public relations challenges opportunitiesGoogle’s decision to phase out cookies from its Chrome browser will upend online publishing and advertising. The internet giant will completely bar cookies from Chrome by 2022 and is already taking steps to restrict them. Chrome has 69 percent market share on desktop and 40 percent on mobile. With such a large market share, its actions will have an enormous impact on internet publishing. The decision, announced last week, could also be a boon for public relations and social media marketing.

Cookies, bits of code that track internet users as they browse the web, are a pervasive and often effective tool for targeted advertising. By inserting cookies on browsers of website visitors, brands continue to show visitors their ads long after they leave the site, in what’s known as retargeting or remarketing. Apple’s Safari browser and Brave, a free open source browser, have already eliminated cookies.  Microsoft has not yet made a comparable announcement about its Edge browser. Chrome, Edge, Mozilla Firefox and Safari all provide users the ability to remove and manage cookies and other website data.

Without cookies, advertisers will scramble to find ways to reach consumers. Publishers, especially small publishers that don’t have extensive non-cookie data on their website visitors, will feel financial pain. Some ad tech companies will go out of business if they don’t adapt quickly. Businesses that rely primarily on cookies to promote their products will suffer sales declines unless they preemptively create new marketing strategies.

The trend to stronger privacy protections helped prompt Google’s decision. Regulations, including the European Union’s General Data Protection Regulation and California’s Consumer Privacy Act, call for strong privacy protections. Federal legislation is also pending. Consumers in general feel more sensitive about online privacy. More use ad blockers or regularly clear cookies from their computers.

Contextual Advertising for the Future

Alternatives for how brands can reach their target audiences and how contextual advertising will evolve are not yet clear.

Google is developing a Privacy Sandbox that it says will allow publishers and advertisers to continue to target ads to consumers without violating privacy. Some experts fear Google will strengthen its “walled garden” by keeping data to itself. In that scenario, in-house measurement and analytics for brands will suffer.

“Google is building a moat. It doesn’t need third-party cookies to track people. It has code live on virtually every single website and app,” Johnny Ryan, privacy advocate and Brave browser thought leader, told the Drum.

If effective alternatives do not materialize, many brands will decrease advertising in online publications and turn to social media and organic marketing.

“Google needs to be careful with moving away from third-party cookies,” Michael Bertini, director of search strategy iQuanti, told AdAge. “Advertisers may end up shifting some of their paid budgets to organic and social.”

A Need for In-house Data

The prospective death of cookies signals the need for more comprehensive in-house data collection and analytics. Marketing and PR executives will need to develop their own first-party data – or put themselves at the mercy of commercial data vendors.

“Most companies have got a long way to go before they can say they are maximizing the benefit of their first-party data for segmenting and targeting purposes, even within their email campaigns, let alone their paid-media campaigns. And the low numbers of businesses that have actually implemented a CDP [customer data platform] of any kind would indicate that,” Luke Judge, chief executive of advertising and marketing agency Incubeta, told Campaign.

A cookie-less future may also prompt businesses to shift more funds to PR to promote sales growth. Savvy PR and marketing departments will proactively look to develop new strategies to offset the demise of cookies in product promotions. Those new strategies must be mindful of consumer privacy issues and concerns.

Bottom Line: Brands will lose a key tool for reaching audiences as web browsers eliminate cookies and prevent advertisers from tracking internet users. In response, brands may cut ad budgets and rely more on PR and non-paid social media promotional strategies.