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Google’s decision reiterates importance of first-party data: Sir Martin Sorrell

The Executive Chairman & Founder of S4 Capital talks about Google’s decision to stop building ‘alternate identifiers’ to track individuals’ activities online

Sir Martin Sorrell

After Google announced that it will stop building ‘alternate identifiers’ to track an individual’s activities online once third-party cookies are phased out, Sir Martin Sorrell, Executive Chairman & Founder of S4 Capital has said the decision reflects the importance of first-party data for advertisers.

Last year, Google had announced that it will soon stop supporting third-party cookies. In a blog dated March 3, David Temkin, director of product management for ads privacy and trust at Google, announced that they will instead be looking at using Federated Learning of Cohorts (FLoC) in a wider way and are expected to begin testing FLoC-based cohorts with advertisers in Google Ads in Q2.


“CMOs should take note that this reiterates, once again, the importance of first-party data and how consumer trust and privacy are moving to the forefront of marketing. In the coming years, digital consumer relationships will be earned by customer experience and value exchange. With Google Chrome removing support for third-party cookies by 2022, the time for marketers to start investing in the future is now,” Sorrell said in response to the development.

Quoting one of S4 Capital’s clients, he said, “Google’s decision reinforces again the importance of first-party data and that we are entering into a world of at least 25 big walled gardens. It’s a natural evolution of the privacy debate.”


Sorrell said S4 Capital thinks of first-party data as the Holy Grail and already has its sights on the critical next phase for marketers, where digital identity is in the hands of brands themselves. “In 2020, we merged with leading cookieless measurement company Brightblue and readied brands like Mondelēz to leverage first-party consumer data to plan, personalise, and optimize their digital media and content.”

Reacting to Google’s decision, Jakub Ortzasek, APAC Head of Data & Analytics, MightyHive, said this reflects the company’s intentions to assure a required level of privacy without a devastating impact on the advertising industry. “Since Apple’s Intelligent Tracking Prevention updated to Safari invalidated third-party cookies for user tracking, all eyes were on Google,” he said.


“When Google Chrome announced it would remove support for third-party cookies by 2022, many asked how they were going now to maintain their main source of income (advertising) with the impact of these privacy changes. Google presents this challenge as privacy vs utility. For a while, we’ve been fed with developments about Chrome’s privacy sandbox, which attempts to balance privacy and some advertising features. Now it seems that Google found a way to go with FLoC (Federated Learning of Cohorts),” he added.

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