What Google & Apple’s Web Tracking Changes Mean for Advertisers

Overit Blog - Web Tracking Changes

The changes coming to digital marketing over 2021 will be the most significant in the last 20 years.

Between Google ending 3rd party cookie usage on their platform and Apple limiting the data it provides from iOS back to advertisers, the landscape will change significantly. The changes come due to an increased awareness that individuals/consumers don’t want their individual/personal information tracked and shared online. Some of this has been brought to a head by the European General Data Protection Regulation law from 2016.

Most affected by these changes will be marketers’ ability to build retargeting audiences and lookalike audiences. Retargeting is a form of online targeted ads by which advertisements are delivered based on their previous internet behavior. Retargeting “remembers” online users by including a pixel within the target webpage or email, which sets a cookie in the user’s browser. This is a big deal as retargeting and remarketing campaigns have successfully converted interested consumers into customers. Part of why retargeting is so effective is that it keeps the ads in front of consumers while they are considering a purchase, keeping the product or service at the forefront of that consumer’s mind. Retargeting has also helped lift the return on all digital advertising dollars spent because it allowed non-retargeting campaigns to build up the size of their retargeting audience.

If I have a search campaign for my product, that initial search ad click brought a user to your website and added them to a retargeting audience. Now, I can advertise them when they are doing other things on other sites/social media, encouraging them to come back.

Lookalike audiences have also produced exceptional results for digital marketers in recent years. With lookalikes, if a person likes all the same things on Facebook as a person I’ve already sold something to, then I should put ads for that product or service in front of them also.

Birds of a feather.

While Google has explicitly said that they will stop relying on 3rd party cookie data at the end of the year, Apple has been a little more ambiguous about when they’ll make the change – saying only that the next iOS 14 update will both reduce the amount of data that is sent from the apps and request opt-in for tracking data by users.

How Can Businesses Prepare?

To be ready for these changes, businesses and their marketing partners must consider how they will need to change their digital strategies. What that really means is taking a long hard look at all digital strategies that use audiences, retargeting or remarketing. Developing replacements strategies that will lean on existing and new technologies to put ads in front of high intent users to replace the conversions lost by these changes. While we don’t have all the answers we are going to be working hard at trialing new services and techniques intended to replace the capabilities that 3rd party cookie tracking provided.

We recommend starting now.

Google has talked about providing access to user interest groups to replace the individual being tracked via cookies. For example, if I am looking for a lawnmower online, Google would know this and categorize me, the individual, as “In-market” for a lawnmower or home service product. Once I get placed in this segment, anyone buying ads on Google has the ability to advertise lawnmowers, yard tools, etc to me digitally. Now, Google has said rather than track the individual and the behavior, they will still track the behavior, but with no individual record tied to it. So, the end results are the same. Google knows I am looking for a lawnmower and will still allow others to market tools to me, it just will be a group of anonymous people in a list with that behavior, not individuals. Google has been calling it a “privacy sandbox” as a way to target groups of users with similar interests to protect individuals’ privacy.

At Overit, we are aggressively monitoring these changes and testing strategies to ensure our ads are effective at converting new and repeat customers for the businesses we work with. We are making these changes under serious consideration and want to ensure our clients’ performance. We will test and utilize whatever new demographic tools the ad platforms provide as the changes to the current platforms approach. Beyond that, we will refine existing strategies through additional A/B testing, simplifying our conversions to those that are the most relevant, and targeting groups of users with similar interests. We will also continue to use list services with targetable demographics for marketing through IP address and geolocation when applicable.

To learn more, schedule a strategy discussion with us today. Ensure your sales funnel leads continue rolling in.