The ongoing guide to Google’s Privacy Sandbox
By Steve Adams
February 25th, 2020
Back in January, Google introduced the Privacy Sandbox: a set of initiatives intended to cement user privacy in programmatic advertising. This announcement spelled the end for the third-party cookie—which allowed advertisers to track users using personal data. The consequences of this loss are numerous and the privacy-centric replacement solutions proposed by Google are still pretty early in development. They are also still fairly vague.
Kate Dye is the product manager of the district m exchange (dmx), and she is following the developments of the Privacy Sandbox very closely. In this video series, Kate will give a guide to Privacy Sandbox and will be giving updates as they roll out from Google.
An intro to Google Privacy Sandbox and Key definitions
Privacy Sandbox initiative TURTLEDOVE
Privacy Sandbox’s impact on the ad-tech industry
There are a lot of different takes on who’s going to benefit. How doomed is the industry? And one of the big questions is are walled gardens going to benefit from this change? Maybe, I mean, in times of change people often go to the incumbents that are sort of reliable, they seem safer. And of course, they have all of their data within the walled garden, which makes it more, gives them more longevity. Things like TV advertising, you know, social, influencer marketing, out-of-home, all of these means of advertising in all of history, have not relied on third-party cookies and the systems that we think are so important and that we absolutely need and we’re worried about going away. So, you know, those have been pretty successful. And there’s nothing to say that the sort of cohort approach they use, can’t work in digital advertising. Maybe perhaps brand, brand endemic or semantic contextual will make a comeback. I think that contextual has sort of been, I don’t want to say a dirty word, but it’s been viewed as outdated. But there’s lots of new and interesting ways of doing contextual that maybe not many players had the tech resources to do at scale. Doing things like page level, contextual, and semantic contextual targeting, are really great opportunities to say we don’t actually need to rely on cookies at all. We can get enough context and information and you know, as a brand, perhaps understand our users well enough to know where we want to show them an ad and a certain message without relying on a known person. Another term that is not quite related to the Privacy Sandbox directly, but has become more popular, sort of as a result of this move away from relying on third-party cookies, is the CDP (Customer data platform). And what is a customer data platform? Well, it’s very similar in intent to a DMP, which is a data management platform. However, data management platforms often rely on these workflows that all tie back to third-party cookies, where the customer data platform is really about creating this global view of a customer if you are a brand.
Google Privacy Sandbox creates a golden opportunity for publishers to leverage first-party data
One of the parts about Sandbox, and already now with Safari, that’s going to be way more important for publishers especially, is using first-party data. Publishers have this sort of latent asset that’s not necessarily being used and I think a lot of them are thinking about it. And that’s really exciting. I think it’s certainly something that we’re focusing on at district m, and enabling publishers to activate their first-party data, their relationship and understanding about their users in a way that they don’t have to port that data out somewhere where or they don’t have control over it, or tie it to a third-party cookie where it’s not going to be around for that long. A bunch of different publishers are either using existing DMPs that or newer DMPs often that are tied to first-party cookies, or they’re building them in-house or maybe they’re creating a taxonomy about their content to better expose that to advertisers. So there’s lots of different strategies but I think it’s very exciting for publishers because they’ve kind of previously handed over control of, monetization and understanding of consumers. And that’s kind of gone down the chain too far. I think over the course of the next year and a half, two years. It will be way more important as a publisher to leverage your first-party data assets and partner with advertisers, partner with exchanges to expose that.
What will Privacy Sandbox do to attribution in digital advertising?
One of the things that is going to go away with the end of third-party cookies is actually attribution, frequency capping, you know, conversion tracking. And I don’t think that’s necessarily, at least from a publisher perspective, the first thing people think about. And it’s maybe not the first thing that consumers think about when they learn that interest-based tracking is going to get harder. But Google has a couple solutions to that. They have an Aggregate Reporting API, and Conversion Tracking API. And the high-level intent is that there’s going to be machine learning and in general, some obfuscation to prevent people from identifying that the sort of one-to-one, this person converted based on seeing this ad at this time on this site, and instead having sort of aggregated, grouped reporting so they can still track what’s effective, what campaigns are performing, and so on, but they’re not going to be able to, there’s going to be noise intentionally added into that to prevent them from having one-to-one tracking
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