T Minus 3 Weeks: The Beginning of the End for Cookies

The cookiepocalypse is finally here. Is the digital marketing world ready?

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PRIVACY • Chrome Killing 1% of 3rd-Party Cookies

They said they would do it. Then they delayed it a bunch of times. Now, it’s really going to happen.

Google this morning confirmed it will start blocking third-party cookies in its Chrome browser starting January 4.

Luckily, for those marketers still not prepared for the cookieless world, Google will only be blocking 1% of its users.

So if not cookies, what then?

Instead of cookies, Google’s new system watches the sites people visit, then tries to put them into a number of interest buckets, like “shoes” or “travelling” or “video games.” Web sites can check what buckets a visitor is in, so people will still be subject to the sorting hat, but its a little less connected to individuals.

What does it mean for marketers?

Well, hopefully you’ve been aware this has been coming, and are transitioning away from third-party ad tracking as a general rule. Other initiatives like Apple’s iOS 14.5 similarly reduced our ability to target with precision.

This is part of the reason retail ad networks, like Amazon, Walmart, and even Instacart have been growing at an impressive clip: They have first-party data, which you can use to target on their properties.

Or, even better, have your own first-party data — email addresses, tied to purchases, tied to browsing history — all information you can capture on your web site, or perhaps your commerce platform.

So, if you see a little eyeball logo in your Chrome URL bar in the new year, you are part of that 1% which will eventually — and probably faster than we expect — grow to 100%.

THREADS • Now Available in the European Union

A big day for Threads, Meta’s Twitter competitor: The app is finally available in the European Union.

When it launched, it didn’t include the EU — probably needing more time to address that region’s more detailed regulatory requirements.

People who choose that will still need an account to post or engage on the platform.

Yesterday, we reported Threads had started connecting itself to ActivityPub (that’s the large network that powers Mastodon, among other services) — that integration is now out in the wild, with a few accounts, notably the head of Instagram, whose posts on Threads you can now see from your Mastodon feed.

Being in Europe, of course, is a huge deal to the growth of the app. With Meta next turning its attention to a deeper ActivityPub connection and, fingers crossed, an API for us to use, it’s definitely on the upswing.

TRIVIA • What was Threads' secret codename when it was in development?

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YOUTUBE • TV Ads Getting Longer, But Fewer

YouTube is reducing the number of ads which appear in a video, which could be bad for marketers.

Generally, the less ad inventory is available, the higher the price to win it.

But there is one small saving grace here: The reductions only apply to videos watched on an actual television set — the company this morning announcing it will decrease the number of TV ads, but increase their length.

Viewers expect a different ad experience depending on the content they are watching. When it comes to long-form content on TV screens, 79% of viewers would prefer video ads that are grouped together instead of distributed throughout a video.

Based on this preference, we evaluated fewer, longer ad breaks, to create a more seamless viewing experience on the big screen. In early testing… [more than] half of YouTube CTV streamers experienced 29% longer viewing sessions before their next ad break.

Viewers will also see the time left until the break ends or they can skip to the content. Expect to see these changes roll out soon.

Also, Google is launching Shorts ads globally on connected TVs. The viewer experience is about the same as on mobile — and viewers can use their TV remote to click away from ads just as they would with any other Short.

If you’re interested in trying Shorts ads out, you can get them through Video reach campaigns, Video view campaigns, and Shorts-specific campaigns including YouTube Select Shorts, First Position on Shorts, and Trending Music on Shorts

TRIVIA • What was the very first video ever uploaded to YouTube?

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Insider Intelligence has put out its digital ad predictions for 2024.

First, they’re expecting some stability in digital ad spend — less in the way of big swings. US digital ad spend grew 13.5% during the years of the pandemic, according to their estimates. From now until the end of their forecast period in 2027, that will drop below 10% for the first time in more than a decade.

Second, with Google’s full phaseout of cookies set for next year, Insider Intelligence expects a push for mergers and acquisitions among ID providers.

And they think Apple will finally roll out a demand-side platform next year.

Third, they expect ad rates for streaming ads will get better. Next year, Amazon Prime releases its ad-supported tier, and it’s expected to overtake Roku in the rankings of ad spend.

Fourth, they expect to see even more major ad platforms become more chummy with their tech. This year, we saw Google’s Ad platform play nice with X, and Snapchat cutting deals with Amazon.

For the first time since we began forecasting them in 2017, walled gardens will lose share of total programmatic digital display ad spend…

One of the main drivers is retail media, which is taking up an increasing share of ad budgets, causing smaller walled gardens to try and prop up their ad businesses by partnering with their bigger counterparts.

Insider Intelligence

INSTAGRAM • Background Editor for Stories

Instagram this week launched a background editing tool to users in the U.S.

This will let you change the image background of a photo you upload to Stories. Say you upload a photo of your product on grass; you could erase that and tell it to put your product on a bed of flowers, or a red carpet.

If you’re in the U.S. and have this activated, once you upload a photo through the Stories workflow, you’ll see an icon at the top with a person and a box with a plus sign over it.

Snapchat also this week released a similar tool which lets users create and send AI-generated images, though that’s part of their paid subscription.

TRIVIA • What was Instagram originally called when it launched in 2010?

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BEREAL • Live Photos and Tagging Added

Earlier this week we reported on the Pew Center’s recent study of where American teens spend their time online — one platform we didn’t mention, just because it was quite low in the rankings, is BeReal.

BeReal is sort of like Instagram, but tries to be more authentic and get away from the packaged and polished images on Meta’s app.

According to that report, 13% of American teens aged 13 to 17 say they use BeReal.

This week, the company added live photos — the app will now capture a second or two before you actually take the photo, so you end up with a tiny video which is viewable by long-pressing the image.

They’re also leaning into the trend toward group sharing, adding group chats to the app. Users can only have two of these groups active at any one time, again forcing people to be choosy about where and how they spend their time.

And they’re finally letting people tag friends in posts and repost images that they are tagged in.

BeReal says it has 25 million daily active users.

25 million daily app users is a solid, engaged base, and as it continues to add more functionality, it is still possible that BeReal could establish a niche communications role, and become a more important platform for certain communities.

Though it’s unlikely to become a major player, and thus, a major consideration for brands.

ADOBE • Faces Trouble over Cancel Policy

Adobe is in trouble with American regulators over its policies around cancelling its software subscriptions.

Apparently, it’s been in talks with the Federal Trade Commission for about a year and a half on this, but only recently disclosed it, saying there could be a settlement soon which would cost the company “significant monetary costs or penalties.”

Users of Adobe programs including Photoshop and Premiere have long complained about the expense of canceling a subscription, which can cost more than $700 annually for individuals. Subscribers must cancel within two weeks of buying a subscription to receive a full refund; otherwise, they incur a prorated penalty. Some other digital services such as Spotify and Netflix don’t charge a cancellation fee.

The FTC has been trying to make digital subscriptions a little more consumer-friendly. It proposed a rule earlier this year that it must be as easy to cancel as it was to sign up.

Adobe is also trying to mend fences with British regulators over its proposed $20 billion acquisition of Figma.

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DROPBOX • Users Auto-Opted-In to Sharing Data

Dropbox is finding itself in hot water this week, after it was discovered it was sharing its customers’ data with a third-party provider.

That provider is OpenAI, and the sharing happened if users used any of Dropbox’s AI tools. Dropbox doesn’t make any of their own tools, so they’re basically renting the tech from OpenAI, so of course to use your company’s documents with AI, they would need to send the data over there.

The problem is that it wasn’t particularly clear that was happening, and the consent toggle was switched on by default.

So if your company uses Dropbox and any of your people on the account did anything with its new AI tools, it’s likely that your data is now with OpenAI. Dropbox says it believes data sent there isn’t used for training, though of course, that’s second-hand information.

If you want to turn it all off, go to your account icon in the top-right, click Settings, choose the tab called “Third-Party AI,” and toggle it off.

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