Recently a client reached out with a timely request:

“Hey 90 team – an interesting conversation has started to circulate internally regarding the ‘inevitable end’ of cookie tracking. This is a result of internal alignment we’re trying to establish for GDPR compliance. We would appreciate 90octane’s point of view on the state of cookie tracking and what’s next.”

Here’s what 90 had to say on the matter:

Given GDPR (General Data Protection Regulation which governs European Union privacy), CCPA (California Consumer Privacy Act), and the public’s concerns over privacy, what will happen to digital marketing and analytics tracking? The short answer is no one knows. That said, we think the advertising community understands the necessary balance between consumer privacy and the tools we use to market and track for our clients. And the industry is making adjustments.

Recently Google’s CEO Sundar Pichai authored an op/ed piece reiterating Google’s commitment to privacy, and the company published a blog post outlining a “new initiative to develop a set of open standards to fundamentally enhance privacy on the web.”

The drive will be to limit cookies rather than eliminate them. There will be a drop in targeting capabilities due to Apple’s ITP technology and browser extensions like Ghostery, and in some cases a migration to full-on ad blocking browsers like Brave and search engines like DuckDuckGo.

These changes should curtail bad actors like Cambridge Analytica. Will they restore users’ faith? Despite all of the negative press, there is evidence that the audience is willing. This article in AdAge references research that suggests “customers are more than willing to provide their information in exchange for personalization” and “90 percent will share their data for better experiences.”

However, this assumes those customers trust the recipients of that data. As this HBR article says: “There’s a fine line between creepy and delightful.”

Where Cookie Tracking Heads from Here

The question becomes: “How do brands and advertisers bridge the trust gap?”

We think the answer is increased transparency.

If brands educate their customers and allow them more control over how their data is used and shared, those customers are more likely to let trusted brands use that data to deliver a better experience. Google has started this evolution with increased user control over privacy settings, and the company is taking it further with its “Privacy Sandbox.”

We don’t think cookies are going anywhere. They’re just evolving. It’s up to us marketers to monitor that evolution—and evolve ourselves accordingly.

Given GDPR (General Data Protection Regulation which governs European Union privacy), CCPA (California Consumer Privacy Act), and the public’s concerns over privacy, what will happen to digital marketing and analytics tracking? The short answer is no one knows.

About the Author

Terry Morris

PPC Supervisor

With over 20 years experience in PPC, Terry provides extensive knowledge of the how, why and what people search for on the interwebs. He was born and raised in Colorado, but doesn’t ski. Go figure.