Once again. We need to report on Google’s actions. No, we are not obsessed with Google. 🙂 But, there’s a lot going on that affects consumers and marketers alike. For many marketers, this topic may be the most important of all. What will be the impact of the demise of third-party cookies?
First, look at our recent Google posts. Indeed, they reflect Google’s importance in every day life:
- Privacy Issues with Google Maps
- New Criticism of Google and Privacy
- Areas of Google Strength and Weakness
- The Power of Google Leads to an Antitrust Case
In light of the above, it’s Interesting that Google wants to tackle third-party cookies. Which invade consumer privacy. While they benefit marketers. Does Google have a not-so-hidden agenda?
Google — What Will Be the Impact of the Demise of Third-Party Cookies?
Before digging into the subject at hand, we must describe the concept of third-party cookies. For good insights, we turn to Sortable:
Third-party cookies are created by domains other than the one the user is visiting. For example, when you visit website.com and browse their pages, website.com creates a first-party cookie. Like most publishers, website.com uses online ads to monetize its content. The third-party advertising provider also creates a cookie (ads.example.net). As these cookies are not created by website.com, but by the advertising provider, they are classified as third-party cookies.
There are a number of third-party service providers that leave cookies in a user’s browser. Ad retargeting services, which involve following users (who previously visited a Web site) around the web and showing them ads for any products or services they’ve viewed or interacted with previously. Social media buttons, which track the user’s visit to a Web site and send the user relevant ads when the user goes back to these social media sites. Live chat pop-ups, which leave a cookie in the user’s browser to streamline the user experience, by identifying the user and upon the user’s return, remember the user and their conversation history.
Although a wide variety of firms utilize such cookies, there are privacy and transparency issues for consumers. First-party cookies come from sites that people actually visit. However, third-party cookies track people without their knowledge or approval.
Blocking Third-Party Cookies
It started when Apple announced that its new tool, Intelligent Tracking Prevention (ITP), would identify and block third-party cookies. Mozilla Firefox followed suit by launching Enhanced Tracking Protection (ETP) which is enabled by default and blocks third-party cookies. Both Apple and Mozilla implemented these measures on the basis of protecting users’ privacy.
It therefore, wasn’t much of a surprise when Google announced its planning to phase out third-party cookies by 2022. With a majority of users on Google Chrome, Google’s decision to pivot to privacy sent waves of panic across several industries including marketing, advertising, and Ad Tech. Google’s decision is based on users “demanding greater privacy—including transparency, choice, and control over how their data is used.”
Google’s Plan and Its Impact
Now, we examine Wired’s take on Google’s plan. As well as the firm’s intent:
Critics and regulators say the move risks putting smaller advertising firms out of business and could harm Web sites that rely on ads to make money. For most people, the change will be invisible, but behind the scenes, Google is planning to put Chrome in control of some of the advertising process. To do this, it plans to use browser-based machine learning to log your browsing history and lump people into groups alongside others with similar interests.
If you use Chrome at the moment, then the sites you visit, with a few exceptions, add a third-party cookie to your device. These cookies—small snippets of code—are able to track your browsing history and display ads based on this. All the data gathered by third-party cookies is used to build user profiles, which can include your interests, the things you buy, and your behavior online, and this can be fed back to murky data brokers.
Google intends to target ads against people’s general interests. By using an AI system called Federated Learning of Cohorts (FLoC). The machine learning system takes your web history, among other things, and puts you into a certain group based on your interests.
We conclude with a podcast by the Wall Street Journal. “Why Fewer Ads Might Follow You Around the Web.”