Online Marketers & Advertisers have recently been shocked to learn that third party cookies are about to stop being supported by Google Chrome, one of the most dominant browsers used between desktop & mobile users. While they’re not the first browser to do this, they’re making a new system that some find controversial called the Federated Learning of Cohorts, which will work to replace cookies using a new grouping system that will group user’s with similar browsing histories into large groups, to avoid individual targeting. There’s debate between whether or not this will be the most effective & ethical way to move forward, but what’s not being as frequently discussed is how to prepare your organization for these changes.
Time To Benchmark Existing Data & Prepare For Potential Shifts In User Data
The first step for any organization is to ask “Will this effect me?” & if yes, “How/why?”. This seems like an oversimplified way of approaching the problem, but realistically this isn’t going to have any if much impact on a lot of sites. Certain CMS’s such as WordPress have discussed offering users the ability to opt out of participating in the FLoC, as they seek to protect users that run sites about sensitive topics such as healthcare, religion etc… & if it seems like your org doesn’t want to expose its users to something like this, look for an option to opt out.
Be the evangelist within your team as well, let other members of your team & all stakeholders involved in your projects know about what is going to be coming up & make sure that they are informed enough to pass along data to any other stakeholders or clients who they may be responsible for.
Once to a few times a week offer updates to anyone based on material you find with more details that come forth closer to the discussed transition.
Benchmark Existing Data & Prepare For Potential Shifts In User Data & Interactions
Now that you’ve alerted others, it’s time to take a dive into your analytics reports & look to see what types of & how much traffic may be affected by this update. Take some reports with different time lengths so that you have some benchmark numbers for all quantitative & qualitative traffic & conversion data in your reports, and reach out to all teammates & stakeholders who rely on these reports & similar ones to get a list of all the KPIs & metrics they keep track of. This way, it’ll be easier to identify the initial changes that take place, while also adjusting your future content strategy to minimize the impact of this update.
Once these reports have all been compiled, take the time to make sure that everyone is well aware of what specific numbers are being reported & why, and share the benchmarks with anyone that you normally would be sharing reporting with, explaining where to anticipate the changes so that should they log into an analytics platform & see an issue, they will know why it is happening & that you are proactively monitoring the situation.
Improve On-Page SEO & Latency By Cleaning Up Old Tags & Reviewing Content Strategy
Anyone well versed in Technical SEO can tell you of a employer or client who had too many tags popping up in their page load sequence. Typically the larger the organization & longer that they’ve been around, the less likely it is that anyone can tell you exactly what every file loading in a page’s load sequence is there for, much less who is using the data. Countless times I have tried to track down the respective owners of tags that eat up a large percentage of a page’s total requests or weight, only to be told that no one has any idea, but it should stay. Of course there may be some pushback re: landing pages that are no-index, but this is a way to get the root conversations moving forward.
This update now will be a great way to re-prioritize those conversations, as many of these tags are now completely deadweight if they weren’t already not being used. Showing the Time taken off by these tag removals, as well as the percent less requests & data that is required to be transferred should make for a very compelling case, now more-so than ever. Anything that can be placed within a tag manager & still collect relevant data should be placed in one immediately, as to allow time for auditing & debugging.
It’s also a time to consider how your content is being generated, particularly the items that are most likely to be impacted by FLoC. Check in with where your landing pages for ad-content are in regards to your site’s conversion funnel, and be ready to adjust them if you begin to notice that your relevance is decreasing. This may result in a need to change some of your future funnel entry-points in order to make them more accessible to the broader categorizations of users being considered for ads.
Begin To Formulate A Backup Plan
Not every organization is able to make the changes outlined above on a whim, and each site is going to find themselves in unique situations. It isn’t easy to conduct business in an environment that is going to be considered an A|B test in & of itself, but digital marketers should be accustomed to this by now. Google doesn’t always stay with what they say & test, but what they’re pushing towards does tend to have some staying power.
This seems like an effort to get sites to remove unused tags & improve latency for user experience, while also getting more & more sites & companies to become compliant with Google Tag Manager. I think back to when Accelerated Mobile Pages (AMPs) were being touted as game changers, and it seems like a similar tactic. When AMPs were being rolled out, the AMP carousel was the selling point to get sites to convert to using them, but it was more symbolic of what sites needed to change at their core to rank well. Slowly but surely more folks began paying attention to latency, and SERPs were no longer as focused on AMP results; this seems like a similar move.
By following the planning methods outlined above, and beginning to use those to structure future content & site changes around the new proposed FLoC guidelines webmasters can get ahead of the curve, while also making the tiny adjustments to content & code that were neglected prior.
Measure, Adjust, Repeat For Best Web Optimization & SEM Results
The scientific method continues to reign king, as testing & adjusting your organizations sails is key to success (as always!). There are going to be some adjustments needed as with any campaign(s), but this may actually be a way to encourage sites to post more diverse content in order to lure users into their conversion funnels.
An example I thought of earlier is how a guy who is into hunting an fishing used to have it easy should his wife & kids be buying him a Father’s Day/Birthday gift due to the former ways of targeting customers.
They could shop around, get a few tagged pixels in their browser’s cache, and be brought to something he’d likely love very easily. But now this is being changed, as in the initial stages even the proposed sample sizes of 1,000+ users per grouping is still tiny, which is likely to muddle analytics data for a while.
Organizations now must wrestle with the concept of how to start a different user journey that has grouped from instances like this, plus many others where the average user may not realize they have regrouped into another category, but is still a target user for conversions.
How to address this change will vary dramatically between organization types & team initiatives, but it is ultimately an immediate need to be addressed. How teams address it overall will likely become part of longer-term strategizing as well, making it even more imperative to begin these discussions now to ensure that your team is ready for anything that is to come.
As always, if you need anything, let Demarkles Digital know, we’re always happy to help!