The announcement of Google’s first intention to stop using third-party cookies on Chrome in January 2020 shook the advertising technology industry.

But in the last four years, a lot has happened. Now that Google is finally moving forward with those intentions, the demise of the third-party cookie appears to be more of an opportunity than a catastrophe.

Undoubtedly, there will still be a lot of difficulties with this big change. However, an increasing number of companies and marketers are modernizing their strategy by expanding their first-party data plans.

READ MORE: Cookies Were Recently Disabled For 30 Million Chrome Users By Google. Find Out If You’re One of Them

Whether Big Tech wants it or not, privacy is becoming more and more common.

Over the past four years, it has been evident that the shift in the privacy paradigm goes far deeper than the deprecation of third-party cookies. Instead of playing whack-a-mole with every new product update or regulation, brands need to embrace privacy.

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The concept of privacy has become popular and is here to stay. People are becoming more conscious of the hazards associated with identity theft, data breaches, and other incidents resulting from the unknowing collection of personal information about them. Customers are switching to more stringent ad blockers, choosing not to participate in intrusive tracking, and using platforms like Proton and Brave that have better default privacy settings.

The tech industry is being forced to create and implement new, stricter privacy policies in both new and current product offerings due to a mix of public opinion and regulatory action from the government. For instance, Apple is promoting privacy to customers directly, and major firms like Salesforce and Adobe are providing first-party tools that help brands better manage their marketing and business data.

Universal IDs are perceived by brands as follows: covert third-party tracking

A lot of the “innovation” in ad tech over the past few years has really been about finding ways to keep things as they are despite the deprecation of third-party cookies – finding ways to avoid outright disobedience without abandoning the traditional methods of ad targeting.

However, more and more brands are realizing that these “solutions” are really just band-aid fixes. Consider universal IDs as an example: Fundamentally, UIDs are only new means of cross-site tracking, and they still carry the privacy concerns and liabilities that companies are trying to get rid of.

These are unwise directions that will eventually lead to dead ends as authorities impose ever-tougher privacy requirements in response to public opinion.

Furthermore, it’s becoming obvious that companies seeking really privacy-centric solutions cannot turn to Big Tech and other companies that rely on data from third parties. The ability to collect data and connect it to gain a deeper understanding of Web users is essential to these businesses’ bottom lines because it allows them to eventually sell that visibility. Their motivation is to provide short-term tweaks and workarounds rather than fully future-proof solutions.

It is hard to overlook the importance of contextual and first-party-based targeting.

Every marketing leader prioritizes simplifying processes over increasing privacy. A significant portion of this complexity issue stems from marketers using the excitement surrounding intricate targeting to erect excessive barriers between them and their target audience.

Additionally, every piece of ad tech middleware deducts money from your advertising budget. Although there was initially hope that these middlemen would provide enough value to offset their fees, it is now practically hard to calculate ROI.

READ MORE: Google Tells Ad Tech To Take Its Medicine And Try The Privacy Sandbox

In the ad tech industry, calls for increased openness have taken on a life of their own. But the fact that companies are interacting with so many different parties and levels of detail is undoubtedly the biggest obstacle to full-funnel identification. Despite efforts to centralize attribution, there is an inherent conflict of interest because each vendor is competing with the major players in the ad tech space and is hesitant to provide too much openness. Each vendor contributes its own set of attribution standards.

By switching to a first-party data strategy, practically all of that extra complexity, expense, and signal loss is eliminated right away. Companies are realizing that their interest signals are stronger and more accurate, their ad spend is more efficient, and the whole experience is much better for the user’s privacy when they have first-party connections with customers and employ first-party media channels.

Even though the majority of businesses will undoubtedly continue to employ ad tech partners and tools to support their first-party initiatives, this change offers a fresh start, giving them the chance to carefully select partners and tools and raise the bar for those partners. With a functional ad tech toolset that adds direct, transparent, and quantifiable value from each partner or tool, marketers can go beyond rent-seeking and value extraction.

Establishing a first-party competitive edge is imperative right now.

The whole debate over cookie deprecation has taken on the characteristics of a “boy who cried wolf.” However, despite the conclusion of the well-known fable, digital advertising will not disappear because of cookies. It is really a sign of the larger global shift toward privacy, which is already well under way.

Similarly, it’s becoming evident that the shift to first-party data strategies is not a forced reaction, but rather an objective increase in exposure and value (for businesses and their customers). Since third-party platforms are already notorious for data and value loss, modern organizations’ only chance of success is to implement true first-party strategies in order to reclaim control over their customer connections, advertising budget, and data.

Therefore, brands that persist in pursuing quick solutions and shortcuts will find that their investments and efforts continually run into fresh dead ends as privacy-centric technologies and regulations advance, putting an end to the theater around the “will they or won’t they” Google cookie deprecation. Brands who embrace and address the shift toward a privacy-first Web will have a competitive edge. They will be able to align with this future, regain visibility and control over their web analytics, and ultimately provide customers with more genuine, effective advertising experiences.