The likely “death” of the third-party cookie provides an opportunity for marketers to reinvent the digital marketing ecosystem, according to Randall Rothenberg, CEO of the Interactive Advertising Bureau (IAB), the trade body.

With the “death of the third-party cookie bearing down on us like a freight train for years,” he told the IAB’s 2020 Annual Leadership Meeting, the digital-ad marketplace is reaching “an inflection point” that cannot be ignored.

“One month ago, Google announced a formal plan to phase out the use of third-party cookies in the Chrome browser,” Rothenberg noted. (For more, read WARC's in-depth report: IAB chief outlines how marketers can respond to a cookie-free internet.)

“Google’s move was two years in the making, and followed more than six months of active discussions with industry associations, like the IAB and others.”

This decision by Google builds on steps by other browser providers – including tech firms Apple, Microsoft and Mozilla – to crack down on the use of cookies, with mobile devices also set to move in this direction.

Governments in various markets are also tightening rules for consumer privacy, as shown by the European Union’s General Data Protection Regulation (GDPR) and California Consumer Privacy Act (CCPA).

“Third-party cookies are imperfect. But for all their flaws and warts, they have been central to the way advertising works in digital environments, and therefore central the creation of the entire internet economy,” added Rothenberg.

But, at the same time, they have become part of what the IAB described as a “messy and frightening” marketplace that relies on collecting and leveraging consumer data – and “scares the daylights” out of many people.

“Governments have rightly stepped in to attempt to offer fixes, but their laws also are difficult to comprehend, by consumers and businesses alike,” Rothenberg said.

“People are asked for rounds and rounds of consent, and still don’t understand what they are agreeing to. And the spiral of mistrust continues.”

The seemingly imminent – but slow – death of the third-party cookie “allows us to fix all of that. It is an opportunity to change the economics of personal data so it – and its outcomes – favour consumers,” he asserted.

In spite of those spikes of optimism, when the desire for customisation rubs against demands for privacy, inevitable tension will result. And the IAB will lead efforts to find the right solution for all digital stakeholders.

With that as its mission, Rothenberg said, the IAB “has the chance to create a new industry and a new world in which ‘privacy by design’ is as well understood, as fairly applied, and as universally beneficial as ‘safety by design’ has been for decades in the automotive industry and the food industry.”

Sourced from WARC