In the first half of 2021, marketers continued experimenting with new methods of tracking, targeting and acquiring data from consumers, as long-promised policy changes by Google and Apple were set to soon begin, tightening rules around data privacy that had already been affected by national and international regulations.
But just weeks after Apple announced that making its Identifier for Advertisers (IDFA) an opt-in feature would be followed by even more privacy-focused features, Google surprised the ad world by delaying its phaseout of third-party cookies until 2023 — instead of by the start of 2022, as originally planned. Yet again, marketers faced a new timeline to reassess and possibly remake their plans for the future, with regards to using data to learn more about and better advertise to consumers. Still, many experts have advised the ad industry not to be complacent.
"Any CEOs or brand leaders breathing a sigh of relief at this news and getting ready to reassign people and resources to other projects should reconsider," Konrad Feldman, CEO of Quantcast, said in emailed comments. "Google may have called extra time on the third-party cookie, but brands, agencies, publishers and technology companies should remain focused on finding a long-term alternative. This will avoid swapping a mad-dash in the second half of 2021 for a mad-dash in the first half of 2023."
So while Google's delay adds more time to the clock, it's still ticking, and the developments the ad industry have seen in H1 will continue to affect their plans in H2 and beyond, whether that means building stores of zero-, first- and second-party data; working with agencies that have beefed up their data practices; or figuring out how to navigate — or in some cases, sidestep — Apple's new privacy rules.
"As an industry, we are transitioning away from opaque consumer data collection and usage and toward a choice-driven, transparent, and privacy-friendly future," per a blog post by Forrester analysts.
Below, Marketing Dive gathered some of the most significant insights and analyses that examine how the data privacy landscape changed in 2021's first half, and what's on the horizon.