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Andre Kempe,


Admiral Media,

May 8, 2023

Cookie Crumbles: Google tests Interest-Based Advertising

Google Tests Interest-Based Advertising Solutions without Third-Party Cookies, exploring performance-driven ad solutions that prioritize privacy.

As the removal of third-party cookies in Chrome becomes imminent, Google Ads and Display & Video 360 have been experimenting with interest-based audience solutions that prioritize privacy. These solutions involve affinity, in-market, custom audiences, and demographic segments on Google’s display network, using a variety of privacy-preserving signals.

Google’s Experiment

In Q1 2023, Google’s ads platforms conducted an experiment to analyze the performance of interest-based audience (IBA) solutions when reliant on privacy-preserving signals. These signals included contextual information, the Topics API from the Privacy Sandbox, and first-party identifiers such as Publisher Provided IDs. The research assessed a wide range of signals available in a privacy-first environment. Rather than comparing third-party cookies to the Topics API alone. The experiment involved two arms on a portion of Chrome traffic. One arm maintained the use of third-party cookies, while the other replaced them with privacy-preserving signals for IBA solutions, keeping third-party cookies for purposes like measurement and remarketing. Cookie Crumbles: Google tests Interest-Based Advertising Source

The results

The findings revealed that IBA solutions with privacy-preserving signals show promise in comparison to third-party cookies. Google Display Ads advertiser spending on IBA, as a proxy for scale reached, decreased by 2-7% compared to third-party-cookie-based results. Conversions per dollar, representing a return on investment, decreased by 1-3%. Click-through rates remained within 90% of the status quo, and similar performance was observed for Display & Video 360.

The results also highlighted the positive impact of AI-powered optimization solutions on campaign performance. Campaigns utilizing optimized targeting or Maximize conversions bid strategies were less affected by the removal of third-party cookies, suggesting that machine learning can play a crucial role in driving results. Although the findings are encouraging, they should not be regarded as a definitive indicator of Google’s IBA performance post-third-party cookie deprecation. The current experiment evaluates the effectiveness of serving interest-based audiences, but results may vary in future experiments considering measurement, remarketing, and other use cases.

In a nutshell

Google Ads tests privacy-focused interest-based advertising and shows promise with reduced ad spend and minimal impact on conversion rates. Google’s interest-based audience solutions experiment, which uses privacy-preserving signals, demonstrated mixed results compared to third-party cookies.

However, based on Dr. Augustine Fou’s research, the relevance of third-party cookies in marketing strategies can be questioned, as hyper-targeting through personal information loses effectiveness after more than three data parameters. As the industry moves towards a cookie-less future, marketers should consider focusing on their own experiments. Investing in first-party data, and developing content that does not rely on third-party cookies or targeting. By doing so, they can better target and personalize content in their ads, ensuring a more efficient marketing strategy that values user privacy.

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