Below is a letter our President, Jacob Ross, sent to PebblePost brands with our perspective on how we are treating the latest update from Google on their initiative to improve privacy on the web which has far-reaching impacts on digital advertising and the evolution of the internet in general.

You have likely read that Google is phasing out support for third-party cookies over the next two years in the Chrome browser, as part of their Privacy Sandbox initiative to enhance privacy on the web.

This proposed change is longer term, but they will continue to advance towards this in the short term with the release of Google Chrome 80 on February 4, 2020, which will require that digital entities declare the intended purpose of their cookies, among other things.

There are dozens of articles and position pieces that are coming out on a daily basis to support, criticize, or analyze the change. We at PebblePost wanted to reach out with what we think you’ll find helpful, how this affects us, and what we’re doing about it in the short and long term

PebblePost’s Point of View

This is a necessary evolution—user privacy is a foundational issue, and also one that can’t be solved by only one company. Even Google has committed to a set of open standards that would have to be adopted by the rest of the market.

Chrome commanding market share of almost two-thirds of all browsers can help Google promote, incentivize, and enforce these standards. But without strong leadership from other browsers and innovators, we will not be able to effect dramatic change. We must all collectively work towards fixing the problem and developing a new standard.

Of course, there is a fair amount of anxiety in the market because Google is far from a neutral party, and the stakes are high: a given brand’s ability to target accurately and measure the effectiveness of their marketing efforts. That said, Google has taken a different approach than Apple and Mozilla, who have turned off third-party cookies by default. Google’s approach bodes well for continued collaboration with industry bodies and partners. At a time when Walled Gardens are bigger than ever, it’s critical that while the wonder that is the Internet grows up, it doesn’t just become powered by a small number of companies.

How We are Positioned for This Evolution

PebblePost’s company strategy, alongside a few distinct capabilities, makes us more “future-ready” – and we are committing to the sustained effort and innovation that will be required to help welcome a new age of marketing.

First, we believe in, and practice, people-based marketing. We don’t target cookies, we market to households, and the people within those households. We use a diversified set of signals, including online browsing data expressing interest and intent, demographic and psychographic features, appropriately cleansed addresses, and more.

Unlike digital-only solutions, the PDM® Platform is powered by a proprietary dataset (the PebblePost Graph) that is very diversified, intentionally built to take in multiple signal sources, compartmentalizing, aggregating and anonymizing data wherever possible, fully in compliance with regulations. Our Graph includes both online and offline datasets, which allow us to bridge the gap between the digital and physical worlds. This diversified asset makes PebblePost more resilient to changes in the digital ecosystem (and undergirds our entire platform).

Second, we only use third-party cookies with our brands, with whom we have direct and highly aligned transparent relationships. We aren’t a marketplace, an ad network, exchange, or any other intermediary. We are a full-stack platform built for brands. The online “signal” that fuels our decisioning is passed to us directly from our brands, and we have created robust technological, policy, and process governance to make sure we are good stewards of this data. As policies surrounding this continue to evolve, we will be working with our brands to regularly update our services to be privacy-first.

Third, and as a consequence of the first two, privacy is a pillar of our strategy and something we take seriously. PebblePost only wants to communicate with consumers who want to hear from us and our brands. To that end, we go above and beyond required regulations, allowing consumers a direct way to take control of their data. On our website, consumers may control their preferences by completing a simple form, regardless of what state they reside in. This is a direct and easy way to opt-out of receiving PDM.

Next Steps for PebblePost

Prior to Chrome 80’s effective date, PebblePost will have deployed a new version of our Javascript tag (V3.2) across all our brand sites to accommodate Chrome 80 changes. This latest version will be compliant with the most recent guidelines, and we expect no adverse impact on our services. There is no action required from brands.

Longer-Term Outlook

PebblePost will continue to proactively diversify our datasets, and identify the most favorable and privacy-forward mechanisms as the industry continues to evolve, collaborating with our brands, data partners, and leading organizations such as the IAB and others.

Regardless of industry changes, we remain committed to helping brands effectively and efficiently reach their consumers at home with relevant and respectful mail, alongside a privacy-first approach to data collection and usage.

If you have any further questions, please do not hesitate to reach out to us. And of course, we will continue to share important updates with you as they arise.

Thank you for your continued partnership,

Jacob Ross

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