Ruchika Jha
Digital

Privacy push or just antitrust avoidance? Indian ad world divided over Google's cookie shake-up

Industry insiders navigate Google's cookieless horizon, exploring its impact amidst the rise of other players like Amazon and Jio.

The struggle to disable third-party cookies by Google initially started in 2020 and persisted for years. After umpteen number of discussions and delays, it finally commenced easing off third-party cookies on January 4, 2024.

As per Alphabet Inc.'s quarterly reports, within Q4 2022 - Q3 2023 (one fiscal year), approximately 88.05% of Google's total revenue consisted of YouTube ads and Google advertising.

India holds considerable importance as a revenue-driving market for Google, particularly in the realm of advertisement. According to a This Year Next Year report by GroupM released back in 2023, India holds the eighth position in global ad spends and remains the fastest-growing market among the top 10 markets worldwide with 56% of ad spends projected towards digital in 2023.

Also Read: Google commences global test to phase out third-party cookies

Ever since reports surfaced about Google commencing its global test, industry professionals have been anticipating, unravelling, and comprehending the functions of the Privacy Sandbox.

Here is how the Indian digital advertising and marketing sector is gearing up for its encounter with a cookieless future.

Dr Kushal Sanghvi
Dr Kushal Sanghvi

Dr Kushal Sanghvi, former head - India and South East Asia, CitrusAd:

I think the discontinuation of third-party cookies is a good sign. This marks the direction in which the world is moving forward. The whole thinking has centred around people's interests, likes, and preferences. There will be full transparency in advertising, and brands and marketers will understand where they are spending their money.

The industry will have more SaaS-based platforms and AdTech companies coming in which will change the way media buying and planning is typically done.

We will also see a fair amount of artificial intelligence and other technologies coming in. For example, the industry will have more SaaS-based platforms and AdTech companies coming in which will change the way media buying and planning is typically done.

We will witness innovative approaches to creative thinking and campaign management as changes unfold. Plans will be tailored based on audience segmentation and the desired outcomes for a brand.

Lastly, the upcoming cookieless world will create more new-age companies and will not be dependent on typical large companies like Google, Facebook, and Amazon.

Tejinder Gill
Tejinder Gill

Tejinder Gill, general manager, The Trade Desk:

The long-awaited deprecation of cookies is finally beginning but Google’s solution, the Chrome Privacy Sandbox, which only works on a Chrome browser, likely doesn’t benefit anyone other than Google.

It appears to be a cautious effort to do just enough to avoid the watchful eye of antitrust authorities.

Protecting consumer privacy online doesn’t have to mean making it harder for publishers to earn revenue. Removing third-party cookies appears to be just an exercise to position Chrome as a privacy-conscious browser.

Simultaneously, it appears to be a cautious effort to do just enough to avoid the watchful eye of antitrust authorities. In my view, however, it is hindering digital advertising from reaching its full potential. That's why the advertising industry is on a collective mission to build something better.

Key industry players have come together to create a patchwork of different identity solutions that cover not only the browser environment but also growing channels such as digital audio and streaming.

Solutions such as Unified ID 2.0 have been built to do what cookies never could - benefit publishers and advertisers, while at the same time supporting the consumer experience.

Anand Krishnan
Anand Krishnan

Anand Krishnan, head of marketing and brand management, ICICIdirect:

This change is essentially good from a customer standpoint as it is keeping their data private. After testing, we will need to understand consumer behavior and the marketing funnel. We'll have to figure out alternatives for marketers to target their consumers.

We will need to understand consumer behaviour and the marketing funnel after the testing is done.

The removal of third-party cookies will open up new advertising channels for the digital industry to explore. Advertising spends in our category is shifting towards the Play Store, as app downloads are crucial and entail large search volumes.

Secondly, it could open new avenues for advertising. All the original equipment manufacturers (OEM) are actively pushing to open their app stores and getting customers to download from there.

Sajal Gupta
Sajal Gupta

Sajal Gupta, chief executive, Kiaos Marketing:

The expectation Indian industry professionals have is that large platforms will come up with a solution. What we have to understand is that once cookies go away, it will affect things that are outside of the Google environment.

The phase-out of cookies is transferring the legal responsibility for privacy from Google, where it initially resided, to advertisers.

So, as far as YouTube is concerned where a large part of the Indian advertising spends is focussed, it will function as it is because the platform comes from within the Google environment. The advertising industry will also move toward contextualisation.

The phase-out of cookies is transferring the legal responsibility for privacy from Google, where it initially resided, to advertisers. Consequently, the precision of targeting is expected to decrease. It is essential to begin building one's own data. This shift will lead to the development of data pockets, with retail media poised to be the primary beneficiary.

In the context of India, Amazon is expected to experience significant growth. Another player set to gain prominence in this area is Jio, given its possession not only of people’s telecom data but also substantial data on retail and media consumption.

Pawan Sarda
Pawan Sarda

Pawan Sarda, chief growth officer, The House of Abhinandan Lodha:

This is an inevitable reality that must occur, whether today or tomorrow. As both a marketer and a consumer, I strive to refine my targeting towards a personalised approach. It's crucial to acknowledge and respect the cookieless world while actively building our first-party data. This is the goal we are working towards, with the consent of our consumers.

Would you like to be chased like this? If not, your customers feel the same way.

We also need to be conscious. If you look at the West, there is a huge amount of consciousness built among publishers and marketers. We all need to be smarter in terms of understanding our consumers well and respecting their privacy.

Personalisation is key. I prefer communication from advertisers in a way that demonstrates understanding without relying on consent-led data from customers. There are various methods to create and comprehend your consumers.

We mustn't solely think from a marketer’s or advertiser’s perspective. Instead, put yourself in the shoes of a customer and discern what feels right and what doesn't.

Would you like to be chased like this? If not, your customers feel the same way.

Have news to share? Write to us atnewsteam@afaqs.com