For the digital ad industry, 2020 was a watershed year full of confusion and uncertainty. Advertisers and publishers alike pondered life after cookies, while the federal government opened a can of worms on Big Tech practices. Everyone is scrambling to comply with new privacy laws and protections while preserving their bottom lines.
According to one industry expert, it was Apple and Google themselves that threw the industry into chaos with recent programming updates.
“The whole industry has been thrown into a state of systemic flux and disarray because of the loss of third-party cookies [in Google Chrome by 2022],” said AdProfs founder Ratko Vidakovic in an interview with AdWeek’s Ronan Shields.
“Then we also have the loss of mobile identifiers in Apple’s app ecosystem … and more than likely we’ll have the loss of MAIDs in Google’s Android ecosystem as well next year,” Vidakovic continues, “so it’s kind of like we’re in a weird purgatory right now; it’s an inflection point. Everyone’s searching for solutions for identity, contextual advertising, and how to do frequency capping or attribution.”
There’s no doubt these moves by Apple and Google change the game in profound ways. User privacy is improved immediately, but advertisers and the platforms that make money from third-party-data-driven ads are rightly concerned about what happens now.
Vidakovic thinks both Apple and Google stand to gain by inserting themselves as the privacy gatekeepers … yet doesn’t see the need to panic in this still-young and organically evolving space.
“And while it is absolutely concerning over the concentration of power in their hands,” he says, “somebody does have to restore some sense of normalcy and order. And it feels like with Google’s Privacy Sandbox Proposals they are conscientious of all the use cases that advertisers need right now and all the habits that buyers have become accustomed to.”
Like so much of life right now, the future is a bit cloudy. As tech aligns itself to growing user demands for privacy and data management, perhaps the ad industry will take this opportunity to right itself and rebuild the trust that’s been frittered away by intrusive data plundering.