In a move to more adequately protect consumer privacy, Google recently announced that its Chrome browser will no longer support third-party tracking cookies “within two years.” In its place, the walled garden unveiled its “Privacy Sandbox” initiative.
While advertisers have used cookies as a key mechanism to target audiences and track consumers online, let’s all admit that the eventual drop of third-party cookies comes as no surprise to anyone in adtech. The move comes after the ad industry took advantage of the benefits of cookies to reach audiences more efficiently and bit off more than the public wanted. Then, Cambridge Analytica outraged the world, and that was the straw that broke the camel’s back.
I work with enterprise clients seeking multitouch attribution (MTA), and we stopped relying on cookies three years ago because we knew this was coming.
This is hardly the first time that walled gardens have disrupted the ad ecosystem. Remember when Google launched and, somewhat overnight, became the go-to browser for internet users around the world? Hungry companies seeking mass audiences for their wares flocked to optimize their ranking and buy search keywords to get on the first page for the word “shoes,” for example. Those first movers raked in millions from their quick thinking, never anticipating that Google would eventually disrupt their entire business plan with updates to its search algorithms. Well, Google did, and the behemoth will continue to do so at an even more frequent pace.
Remember, just because a Google or Amazon—or any other data supplier—is part of your process doesn’t mean that you’re reciprocally part of their process. This will certainly not be the last time that data suppliers “break” the system and disrupt the way advertisers and their partners market products and services. Here are three things you can do to ensure those who fundamentally impact your business don’t blow it up when they change the rules:
Change Your Attitude
You should adopt an attitude that any third-party data or third-party process you are relying upon can change on a dime. It’s also important to note that data providers making business-level decisions will not halt pivoting their product strategies just because you have a signed multiyear agreement in place guaranteeing access and use of their data. If their business plans shift, your company will be impacted. It’s as simple as that. Advertisers, agencies and their adtech partners all need to adopt an attitude that crucial data supplies may be shut off and have a plan in place for every possible aftershock.
Hire Really Smart, Innovative Thinkers
By assuming the inevitable, you’ll have the right mindset to plan for what will surely happen. Find the right people to help you future-proof your business. You need to find and bring in really smart, innovative people from the outside into your organization to disrupt and reignite how work is done. All businesses need futurists on staff who are thinking about what’s next rather than the “right now.” These innovators aren’t going to be set in their ways or expect the status quo to hum along as it did in the past.
If you are currently relying on a tremendous number of outside sources and your business has been built that way, there’s probably a 95% chance there is no one at your company currently who can solve the problem of what to do when your data supplies are shut off and how to work around not having that data. Why? Because it’s highly likely that your current team does not know any other way to operate, whereas innovative newcomers with a startup mentality can better see beyond the routines, systems and processes that employees often become entwined to.
Don’t freak out. If you have customers, and if you’ve done a great job solving their problems to date, you will get your smart people in a room and find ways around data supplies changing or drying up.
There’s a silver lining in moves like Google killing off its cookies: At least the playing field is even. While you’re being cut off, everyone is also being impacted. Unfortunately, startups and emerging businesses will be most impacted given fewer resources needed to quickly adapt. We can only hope Google and other data suppliers spare a thought—and provide a plan—for those who are less prepared and financially able to react and pivot to save their businesses before bank accounts run dry.
Regardless, if you are the one people turn to for reaching audiences more efficiently, then they’re certainly looking to you for a solution now. Go out and find it if you haven’t already.
This article originally appeared in Forbes