No cookies? No problem. What’s Next for AdTech (and Sojern)

Google plans to eliminate third-party cookies within Chrome.

February 5, 2020

You’ve probably heard the news by now: Google plans to eliminate 3rd-party cookies within the Chrome browser ecosystem in two years (blog post). This is what you would call a big ad-tech announcement. So, we thought it would be helpful to provide additional context and share our perspective on what this means for the future of digital marketing.

Google said it is committed to building a healthy and sustainable, ad-supported (i.e., free) web that addresses the needs of users, publishers, and advertisers. They have asked partners, publishers, and other members of the ad ecosystem for their support in addressing key user privacy concerns. Namely, consumers are demanding privacy through transparency, control, and choice about what data is being collected and how it is being used.

We believe this change will bring clarity to the ad tech industry on how we collect and protect consumer data. As an industry, we now collectively have 2 years to solve for 3rd party cookies.

Here is how we plan to keep pace with the ever-evolving digital marketing landscape:

Continue Working Closely with Google

Google as a company relies on a free ad-supported web and will continue to do so. As such, we all need to find a path together that supports privacy and supports the need for permission-based marketing that works. Sojern has been a long-time partner of Google. In fact, we were the first Certified Vendor for Google’s travel advertising solutions and have consistently been one of their top programmatic advertisers in recent years. We expect that our relationship with Google will keep us ahead of the curve as they seek to make changes to Chrome and the use of cookies for advertising. In the next two years, we will continue working closely with Google to develop new and innovative ways to drive direct demand for travel clients.

Solving Technical Challenges and Finding Opportunities in New Channels

From a practical standpoint, the elimination of 3rd party cookies creates challenges for targeting, tracking, and reporting in online advertising as we work today. But 3rd party cookies are not the only way to fulfill Sojern’s vision of moving travelers from dream to destination. We have been working to incorporate other streams of data into Sojern’s Traveler Profiles for over 18 months, working with device IDs and hashed email addresses, CRM data, and more.

Many digital advertising channels, such as social media, search, connected TV and the like, already rely less on 3rd party cookies for targeting, tracking and reporting. The new cookie-less world increases the value of these channels to support the marketing efforts of travel’s largest brands.

Delivering On Our Promises

First things first: we do not expect this change to disrupt our focus or ability to meet campaign performance goals. Sojern brings expertise to the table that is agnostic to the mechanisms used to communicate with browsers, whether it be media optimization, audience selection driven by data science, or world-class customer service. We’ve been creatively driving demand for clients through an increasing array of channels, and this diversification can and will continue. Cookie-less marketing channels, such as email marketing and landing page optimization to name just two, provide a rich landscape of opportunities for Sojern to continue this pursuit.

Doing Our Due Diligence

Sojern has already been investing in multiple, alternative mechanisms to identify users, ensure consumer choice and control, and plug into the ecosystem involved in delivering ads.  We are developing a robust identity graph, for instance, encompassing hashed emails, and mobile device IDs. We have over one billion hashed email addresses on file already. Google’s announcement gives priority, focus, and most importantly a time frame to these existing investment paths. Google already reached out to us to provide more details as they evolve their thinking and we will be reviewing things in upcoming meetings with their development team.

As a preferred travel advertising partner, we will be collaborating with Google and have early insight into their plans. We will provide more updates as conversations continue in the next few months, and will continue building solutions that help our clients reach travelers with the right message and the right time.

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