As the privacy landscape is set to change with the demise of third-party cookies, Search Laboratory’s head of paid media Pete Whitmarsh looks at how brands can change their thinking to get prepared.
With the decline of third-party cookies and the increasing number of changes across technology, government regulation and consumer privacy awareness, it’s becoming increasingly difficult to track a user.
The number of gaps in user journeys is rising, and with the need for explicit consent for placing cookies, as well as ITP and Safari’s privacy initiative now removing first-party cookies after seven days, marketers are forced to find new ways to track conversions and attribute value to each touchpoint.
If you prefer to listen rather than read, you can listen to this recent podcast for more information on the recent changes and what marketers need to be aware of.
Adopting new ways of tracking Google Analytics 4
One of the biggest changes in the privacy landscape has been the arrival of Google Analytics 4 (GA4). Along with the many changes in regulation and technology, the way we browse the internet has also evolved significantly, which has changed the way we track users in analytics.
For example, if you’re browsing a site on two separate devices, this would be recognized as two users in Universal Analytics (UA). This inability of being able to string the user journey together means that UA is no longer fit for purpose, easily leading to overinflating certain values later in the funnel and undervaluing moments earlier in the funnel.
The new GA4 platform has been re-engineered to cater for the future of marketing and the changing multi-device landscape, marking a critical shift for businesses to adopt new ways of tracking their audience.
Data-driven attribution is now default and available to all accounts in GA4, as well as the new Google Signals initiative. Designed to fill in the gaps in customer journeys, Google Signal’s new modeling structure holds data on its users logged into a Google account on multiple devices if they have consented to ad personalization.
Tracking returning users
It’s rarely now possible to connect the dots between a user that has visited your site, left and returned to convert two weeks later. Gartner estimates that around 85% of users are opting out of cookies on mobile devices. Marketers are aware of the lack of accuracy in the data due to these changes, which can easily lead to a negative impact on businesses.
Google’s consent mode is one of the newest developments to provide a solution for the decline of cookies. Working with the consent management platform, instead of placing a cookie to track users, a cookie-less, non-user-identifiable ping is triggered upon conversion to notify Google Ads and GA4 to model based on the known data it has.
Getapp’s recent study revealed that 50% more marketers are now concerned about the issue of privacy and how it relates to their practice compared to twelve months ago. The study also noted that 67% of marketers are unsure if regulations apply to their business.
The changing cookie policies across the globe
Methods of implementing new cookie policies vary wildly across countries and regions. Given the huge amount of data that is lost with the departure of cookies, many businesses are designing a simple option to accept all cookies and a much more difficult route to decline or amend cookies.
In the US, there are movements toward a federal data privacy law to cover the entire country, similar to Europe’s GDPR, which would overwrite the current state-level privacy laws. In June, the senate proposed a bill called The American Data Privacy and Protection Act. This would allow users to opt out of targeted advertisements and sue companies that sell their data.
In Search Laboratory’s recent podcast, founder Ian Harris discusses the changing landscape of data privacy and what marketers need to know with Pete Whitmarsh, head of paid media; Jimmy McCann, head of digital strategy; and guest speaker Meghan Bazaman, senior marketing analyst, Getapp, a Gartner company.