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The Carrot and The Stick – Recent Advertising Policy Changes by Google Are A Mixed Bag

Earlier this year, Google announced that it would join Safari and Firefox in blocking third party cookies in its Chrome web browser. Now, they have silently let partners know that new brands will not be able to integrate with Google Ads to target user lists comprised of their first-party data. Here's what it all means

In 2017, I stood on stage at Optimove’s flagship customer event and forecasted that by 2027, all marketing would become relationship marketing. With the advertising world turning away from third-party data, maybe I was off by 7 years.

In January, Google announced it was “phasing out” third party advertising cookies from Chrome. More recently, it has let its partners know that it is no longer approving new “whitelist” requests to connect brands’ DMPs directly to Google Ads, rather doing so only via DV360.

Let me start by saying that in general, both these decisions are steps forward in terms of customer privacy protection. With regards to the first, Chrome is not the only browser to block third party cookies. In fact, Firefox and Safari have already done so. However, Chrome’s market share is 69%, making their announcement a much bigger deal for brands and consumers than the previous two combined.

Approaching the Third Party-Less World

Without third-party cookies that track consumers across the board, marketers will need to rely more heavily on their first-party customer data to target their audiences effectively. And to clarify, by “effectively targeting,” I mean serving the right message across platforms based on consumer interest, engagement, and history with the brand.

We will soon find ourselves in a world where every advertising platform will behave as a walled garden. Marketers will only be able to leverage the platform’s targeting set and the data they have collected from their customers. With the platforms offering the same targeting tools to each marketer, competitive advantage can only be gained by better leveraging customer data and superiorly orchestrating efforts across all digital channels.

It is in this reality that relationship marketing will need to take the step forward predicted back in 2017 and be the central strategy for the complete consumer lifecycle. Not one that starts only after the first purchase or conversion.

Why This Change Is A Good Thing for Marketing (And Consumers)

Traditionally, many enterprise marketing teams have been separated into three: those in charge of acquisition, those focused on conversion, and those that live and breathe relationships or retention, ie. CRM teams.

  1. Acquisition – The acquisition team would leverage advertising platforms’ capabilities and third-party cookies to find and target their customers.
  2. Conversion – The conversion team would use the knowledge it can gain based on what brought visitors to a given page and their on-page behavior to get them to convert or purchase.
  3. Retention – The retention team, or CRM team, would use what they know about the customer to provide a better experience and build a long-lasting relationship with them.

The new reality, however, requires a shift from this siloed approach. It requires acquisition and conversion teams to gain access to the information the retention team has and to learn how to use it wisely.

This demands that they learn from their CRM colleagues how to communicate with customers in an emotionally intelligent way. And, it can only succeed if relationship marketing practices become the center of gravity for all marketing operations.

How to Do It

You can begin by segmenting your existing consumer base to create advanced lookalike audiences and to find new customers. For example, take the top percentile of customers based on their lifetime value and then target their lookalikes.

A more advanced and ideal scenario would be the usage of a unique identifier that is synced to their history (anonymous and named) with the organization. One that is used to serve relevant ads only across platforms and in a synchronized manner.

A small clarification is needed, in that synchronization does not mean to flood consumers across platforms with the same ad, but rather to understand each one’s preferences and act accordingly.

The Wrench in The Plan

As previously noted, there is a new twist to this story. As of March, brands requesting to connect their DMPs directly to Google Ads are being turned down. This is especially impactful for brands that are just now looking to target specific customer lists created off-platform within Google Ads.

It is important to note that this change does not impact brands who already had this setup and that there is a workaround. Brands with a DV360 account may connect DMPs to that account, but they are in the minority, as most brands use Google Ads accounts instead.

As a result of Google’s January announcement, brands who were planning to rebound by connecting their first-party data directly to their Google Ads account will need to reconsider their strategy. To overcome these changes, brands will need to focus more than ever on unifying all their marketing efforts under one roof.

For over 10 years, Optimove has allowed marketers to orchestrate their digital advertising efforts in conjunction with all others. It does so by deploying hyper-segmented audiences that leverage any combination of the hundreds of customer data points – historical and predictive – across all digital platforms.

As the dust begins to settle, the new reality will set in. The question is, will you be ready?

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