3rd Party Cookies

The Third Party Cookies Meltdown

At the beginning of the year we heard the retirement plan of third party cookies across digital platforms at the IAB Annual Leadership Meeting. With cookies always being in the blocklist of browsers like Duck Duck Go and popular browsing platforms like Firefox and Safari following suit, the digital space is understandably inching towards the goal of a cookie-free internet. Google Chrome’s announcement to get rid of third-party cookies within a span of two years was the final nail in the coffin, marking the term “cookie apocalypse”. 

The move was long due, considering the increasing power in the hands of consumer data, and increasing frequency of its non-consensual sharing and leaking. Consumers appreciate marketers bringing them content that is most relevant to them, however, insecurity over their privacy is making users conscious and conservative on the internet. This has led to a lack of trust and safety in sharing information online, an issue that IAB found imperative to address and act towards.

Enter Project Rearc! 

Project Rearc is an initiative extended to revolutionize how ‘privacy, customization, and communities’ work online. Before we head into the details of how this project aims to overturn the digital ecosystem, let us understand the void of necessity that the cookie ban will create.

What Are the Implications Of The Cookie Apocalypse?

Till date, the internet heavily relied on the use of cookies for curating relevant content and personalized ad campaigns to the users as a result of their activity tracking. Users accepting cookies on the websites that they visited had the convenience of only being exposed to ads relevant to their own preferences, on social media and otherwise. The current scenario, therefore, significantly impacts the future of digital marketing.

Data Platforms Will Get Oligopolized

The power from the third parties will be handed over to the walled gardens of industry dominators like Google, Amazon, Facebook and Apple (GAFA) that users hand over their most personal information to. With the clear advantage that they will have in this situation, they will have the power to leverage user information to billions of advertisers.

Marketers Will Have To Take The Longer Route

Cookies had enabled a faster route to consumers’ minds and needs, with or without their consent. Most consumers did not have the knowledge or awareness to the extent to which their data and activities were being stored and tracked. With this powerful equipment gone, context-based advertising will re-enter the picture. Marketers will have to rely on first-party data to analyze the activity of users and offer information and advertisements strategically and some will try to find alternative legal ways using cutting edge technologies to serve personalized content and ads to users. 

Consumers May Feel Safer But More Distracted

If you have explored something on a website and the sudden advertisement of the exact same product on another website freaks you out, it’s natural to feel safer with bidding goodbye to third party cookies. However, the fact that advertisement and marketing are not going to stop is being disregarded here. This means you will still see ads when you switch from one site to another but perhaps not the one that’s relevant to you in any way, thereby creating annoyance and distraction.

The above points indicate how uneven, inconvenient, and highly lacking in personalization the future of digital marketing will be in the absence of a revolutionized system.

IAB’s Project Rearc: How Does It Revolutionize Digital Platforms?

Promoted as a global call to action, Project Rearc is the brainchild of IAB and IAB Techlab that brings global stakeholders of the digital marketing supply chain under a common roof to work and strive towards a common goal. 

The goal is to make the internet a better, safer, and more productive place for all communities benefiting from it alike. And the course of action taken is the aggressive propagation of information and agenda of the project to bring influential stakeholders on board to realize the concept. It has paved way for the formation of an effective task force with huge names already joining forces to take this forward. With joint strategies, technologies and orientation, the non-profit consortium is resolved to fulfill its objective.

Project Rearc’s primary objective is to replace the third party cookies system with a different format of identification that allows users to enjoy greater privacy and control over the use of their data. At the same time, it enables marketers to utilize available resources to produce personalized strategies for consumers in consistence with third parties.

The project promises to revolutionize digital spaces on the basis of four primarily proposed principles. Let’s have a look at what the digital future could look like with Project Rearc taking charge. 

Identifier Replaces Third Party Cookies

An elaborately encrypted identifier will replace third-party cookies which will not be directly available or accessible to third parties unless organized by trusted first parties. The proposed example is that of an e-mail id that is already in use by several publishers.

Control Transfer in The Hands Of Consumers

Identifiers will not only be consented by the customer but also provided by themselves. Additionally, privacy preferences, as to where the consumer’s consent for their data to be used, by whom, and in what context, will all be decisions that will be left solely in the hands of the users. This will substantially minimize the chances of data theft or swindling.

Privacy Takes the Center Stage

By striving to create an essentially anonymous digital ecosystem, the user-generated ID and stringent protocols on the use of user data will create a digital space that places privacy at its core. CCPA and GDPR rules will form an enduring bottom line whereas relentless third-party vendor audits along with multi-layered ID scrambling by the publishers and brands would ensure enhanced security.

Accountability Becomes A Focal Point

Finally, accountability mechanisms will be put in place to facilitate diligent practice of privacy norms and policies. Both transparency and accountability will take a front seat with this highly collaborative and concerted initiative.

What Lies Ahead For The Advertisement And Marketing Communities?

With the proposed Project Rearc taking digital marketing and advertisement by storm, stakeholders of the industry have most to lose or gain. Stepping up and being a part of the revolutionary process or standing out and waiting for an unlikely rebound is a conscious choice to make.

Although third parties are to be denied any access to user data lacking explicit consent, based on trust, third party advertisers will get access equivalent to first parties if all the objectives and regulations are met. With this set-up, advertisers will not have to rely on giants like GAFA. All they will need to ensure is maintaining privacy standards and commitments to gain equal access. 

Despite concrete distinction of prospects, project Rearc is not a holistic and exhaustively designed plan. It still is in the stage of improvement and upgrade, seeking all the help from the industry. While it extensively talks about a dependable ID, it in no way claims to be currently responsible for a product or service that creates it. 

There are similar persisting arguments with the overwhelming nature of the revolution. One of the most controversial drawbacks that clearly need rethinking is — The Privacy Debate: Despite the claims of 100% privacy, Project Rearc subtly suggests the use of e-mails and possible mobile numbers as identifications. Although the details will only be exposed to trusted vendors and sites, the extremely personal nature of the ID has erupted a huge debate; one that has a decisive potential in the final outcome.

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