By Liz Rutgersson

Late last week, Google released a significant announcement relating to planned changes for YouTube tracking and targeting. At Merkle | Periscopix, we anticipate that these changes will have a long-term significant impact on how we target users in the YouTube environment. We expect that this is the start of bigger changes for Google, and anticipate that others in the digital industry will be moving away from the traditional cookie-based environment to a more advanced, cross-device friendly, individual-based targeting approach. 

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What are the important changes?

  • Google have announced that they will be “limiting the use of cookies and pixels on YouTube starting this year”. They will do so by removing the option for use of 3rd party data targeting in the YouTube environment.
  • They have aligned the announcement of the removal of 3rd party data targeting with some positive news: YouTube targeting will be enhanced to include more search and maps data as well as improved options for targeting within their customer match tool.

Why have Google made this change?

We can speculate that this move by Google has likely happened for a number of reasons:

  • In their announcement, Google put a lot of emphasis on the need for a mobile-friendly option for targeting, as the digestion of YouTube inventory shifts to a mobile-majority. Cookies are extremely limited in the mobile environment, limiting cross-device tracking and targeting.
  • Digital advertisers have been asking for a better way of utilising Google’s wealth of logged-in user data for a long time. Google hold one of the biggest databases of consumer information in the world, so they have had to plan the best way of making this data available to advertisers, while respecting privacy needs of consumers.
  • The industry is changing, and many platforms (such as Facebook) have already adopted the practice of removing 3rd party data overlays from their targeting options. We expect this trend to continue in the future.

How does this affect advertisers?

  • This change will have a big impact on advertisers who are accessing 3rd party data within a demand-side platform (DSP) or data management platform (DMP), as they will no longer be able to use this data when targeting YouTube inventory.
  • Google disallowing 3rd party data also means advertisers can no longer use any non-Google pixels which have been built to collect and target 1st party audiences. For example, if an advertiser uses a DMP for both 1st and 3rd party data collection and management, they will not be able to use these audiences to target on YouTube.
  • 1st party data created with cookies and pixels within Google’s own tools will still be allowed with YouTube inventory.

This change from Google signifies a likely shift in their targeting options in the future. We expect the move away from cookie-based targeting into a known user environment to mark the start of a big change for the future of our industry. At Merkle | Periscopix, we feel prepared and excited for these changes, as our capabilities in people-based marketing will continue to keep us at the forefront of digital developments.

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