Monthly Archives August 2021

When is Google Removing Third-Party Cookies?

hammer crushing cookies

It’s been months since Google first announced they’d phase out third-party cookie tracking from their platform—or as one news outlet named it “the cookiepocalypse.” But since their internet-breaking announcement, we’ve yet to see it actually happen. Just what is the holdup on this plan, and what does it mean for your company, both now in 2021, and for later years?

What are Third-Party Cookies?

First, let’s set the baseline on just what third-party cookies currently do. You may have noticed the cookie disclaimer that pops up when visiting websites for the first time. In the simplest terms possible, it helps the site keep track of what you’ve been doing on the site. 

Agreeing to website cookies can be a useful thing for user experience. It’s how a website remembers your language preference, what country you’re visiting from, or how a shopping cart remembers what you put in it the day before. It also helps a company see things like user flows and popular pages. 

Third-party cookies mean someone outside of the company that owns the website might be tracking your data too. They don’t typically track things quite as refined, but they may have something on the homepage just to let them know you visited. 

The biggest way they use that data is to retarget ads based on your preferences. One of the easiest examples of this is when you visit a shoe site, and almost immediately after you see ads on Facebook for that same shoe site, or others they think you may like as well. 

Why is Google Removing Third-Party Cookies?

Some browsers, like Safari and Firefox, already limit third-party cookies. The reason Google’s announcement is so newsworthy is that they have the lion’s share of users, so their decision to cut data has larger repercussions on the advertising industry. 

But so far, no real updates have been made. The initial news said mid 2021, then there was news that they were planning to slowly fade out the options. And now it seems the plan may not be in effect until 2022. 

So, how much push is coming from Google to remove third-party cookies, and how much is coming from industry pressure regarding privacy policies? The answer can depend on who you talk to. 

How Can We Track Usage Without Third-Party Cookies? 

Although the changes haven’t happened yet, agencies around the world are already prepping for what things might look like without the ability to advertise as we’ve been doing for years. 

Google, for one, has already stated that they are coming up with their own ways to track usage. But what they’ll do exactly remains to be seen. Will their updates push more automation from their own platform? If they keep more data within their own site, it will force companies to use only their platforms, and may result in less ability to pinpoint more nuanced audiences. 

Another plan is to rely more on what Google has coined FLoC (Federated Learning of Cohorts). Proponents of this method say it’s a more privacy-first way to advertise, but opponents say we’ll lose a lot of structure that’s needed to keep ROIs where they are now. 

So what is FLoC? It’s a way to target based more on basic profiling; relying mostly on audience groups. It would be a more contextual way of advertising. More like how traditional ads of the past worked, like TV and magazines. You may not know your audience went to the exact shoe site, but based on demographics and other information you can make an educated assumption they’ll be interested in the shoes you want to advertise. 

Because of the way this will most likely work, retargeting will be limited, and will be limited to Google’s cookies for information and advertising. 

How much will this affect ROI? How well will FLoC work to target smaller audiences? Will creatives need to change to adapt? All of these questions are still in constant debate, and we won’t know answers for sure until we see the new plans in action. 

What we do know is that similar to all digital advertising, this can be approached with a strong strategy and a readiness to quickly adapt and change as needed to reach appropriate audiences and guarantee positive outcomes. 

How to Effectively Utilize Influencer Marketing

Influencer with their web camera set up.

Is your company 100% into smart marketing ideas, or completely on board with using up an advertising budget, but cringes at “giving” money to individuals on social media just so they can talk about you to their followers? 

If so, you are not the only one. Although Instagram alone boasts nearly one billion active users, and Facebook calculates the average account holder spends almost 2.5 hours a day on their platform, many companies are still shy about spending marketing dollars for influencers. And that’s not all, according to eMarketer, spending this year is about to grow by over one-third—the highest growth in the industry. Those who aren’t on board are losing out to their competition who is. 

The hesitation for influencer marketing can often be boiled down to a couple of things. First, many marketing executives still see it as a riskier option; something they can’t see direct ROI success from. The second is understanding of influencers and platforms. Creating ads, buying placements, watching how they increase customers…these things have been done for decades. But finding the right influencer can seem a much more daunting task. Trends rise and fall, and influencers can do the same. Hitting on the right mix of product, influencer and audience can feel so risky it seems many people decide to opt out altogether. 

We’re here to simplify influencer marketing. While ROI cannot always be measured the same as traditional marketing, it can have great effects on long-term brand awareness, loyalty and purchase decisions—three things no brand would detest. 

How Influencer Marketing Elevates Brands

Advertising in all aspects is good for a brand. Be it out of home, digital, print…they can all do the three things we listed above. But they can’t always do it with the same trustworthiness that influencers can. 

This is not a shocking revelation. Think about how you feel when you see a random actor on TV trying to tell you about a product. How strongly do you believe what they say versus when your friend tells you about that same product? 

We have become a people that need user reviews. How many stars does the restaurant have on Google? What are people saying about that product on Amazon? What does the product look like when it’s tried out by someone on YouTube? 

Influencer marketing is just another one of the tools consumers use to filter brands and products. It may not be your trusted friend, but if an influencer you follow gives a brand shoutout they must believe it, right? They’re sharing it, they’re attaching their name to it, they must at some level be doing it to help their followers…even if we understand they’re being paid to share, it still feels more personal than seeing the same type of thing in a photoshop-perfect magazine ad. 

Influencer marketing is word-of-mouth. It gives social proof to what you’re learning about. But, just like an ad for ice cream may not be successful in a vegan magazine, finding the wrong influencer can completely miss the mark. 

How to Find the Right Social Media Influencers 

  • Make it authentic: One of the biggest pros of influencer marketing is that it feels more personal. It’s not all about the largest follower base, it’s about finding the accounts that really do believe in your brand, and can share that feeling with others. 
  • Keep it casual: Just like authenticity, if it feels too produced it’s going to come across like an ad you’re forcing an influencer to share for money.
  • Collaborate: In the same vein, some influencers can bring a lot to the table in terms of how to speak to their audience. Listen and let them help figure out the best way to share your product together. 
  • Realistic goals: As with any type of marketing, keeping your end goal in sight is important. Is it to raise sales, get brand recognition or something else? One ad cannot effectively do everything for your brand, and it should not be expected that any influencer can do everything with one post (or even a handful of them).

Overall, keeping long-term plans and goals is also helpful no matter how you start with influencer marketing. Especially if you’re looking for brand loyalty or new followers. Yes, things can go viral and numbers can go up exponentially. But for the majority, influencer marketing can feel subtle. Our advice for you: trust the process. Have confidence that trial and error is part of finding the right fit.