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The Crumble of The Third-Party Cookie: Google's Upcoming Cookie Ban

Strategy, Digital Marketing

If you’re anything like us, and keep up on online marketing news, you may have caught the buzz of Google’s plan to ban third party cookies. While this may seem like quite a setback for your marketing attempts (no doubt), there are strategies you can put in place to ensure your efforts can continue moving forward. We are here to help you do just that.

A Quick Refresher: What is a cookie?

Cookies are teeny files that are left on your device when you visit a website. And, just like a real cookie, it helps beckon you to go back for more, but in a rather subtle fashion. Here is how it works: A cookie that is left for you is there to tell the website or search engine whether or not you’ve visited the site before, so the site can whisper to you in multiple ways “Psst, come back. I made something just for you, and also I’ll give you more cookies if you come back.”

From both the user’s and website’s perspective, cookies are useful (and of course, tasty) for several reasons:

  • Your customers’ online experience can be made for them. As a returning visitor, your customer may not see the same links for “new customer discount” offers, since they may no longer be relevant. Instead, they may see your message for “returning visitors” or your “loyalty program” while first-time users to your site may see really tempting offers, or an introduction to your company and your website.

  • Cookies capture personal information, such as location, email address, and phone number. This makes logging in or filling out forms a breeze, once again making their experience better suited to them.. A customer who has an easy time, is a customer likely to return.

  • Details about what your customers have viewed on past visits, such as products they have recently clicked or particular web pages they have visited.

Google feels that some of the above points may raise concerns about consumer privacy and the sort of information that’s being held about people. However, it’s abundantly clear that the main purpose of cookies is to make life online easier for everyone. For this reason, even Google itself uses cookies. 

How third-party cookies differ from your typical delicious cookie drop:

Your website typically does not share its cookie data beyond your own site, unless you specifically tell it to. For example, Popular Science can only access cookie data from their own site and not from other similar sites a user may have visited. However, third-party cookies can and do track users across multiple websites. 

These third-party cookies are usually served by advertisers and data brokers, rather than solely the businesses that advertise to their own consumers. They give marketers a view into a user’s online persona because of the user-interest data that they collect. This data is valuable to advertisers, because they can now tailor ads to make them relevant to the target audience by using retargeting. The third party cookie stores data about products, services, or content that a customer has engaged with. Google currently uses third-party cookies to power their advertising capability in Google Ads, so, for now, these cookies are a critical element. 

Because of how these cookies function, the announcement that Google Chrome will soon ban third-party cookies is scary news in the advertising community.

Google has planned to replace third-party cookies with ‘Privacy Sandbox’

As of now, the third party cookie is Google’s main way of collecting user data to feed Google Ads advertising. If Google were to stop collecting this data today with third-party cookies, their advertising capabilities would come to an abrupt halt, along with the capabilities of advertisers who rely on Google Ads. 

As there is no way Google is going to lose money because of their own ban, they have come up with a new product to help keep the advertising dollars flowing: the “Privacy Sandbox”. In theory, advertisers should continue to benefit from targeted advertising even after third-party cookies have been blocked, but now consumers will be offered peace of mind knowing their online data and privacy is better protected.  

Privacy Sandbox is proposed to function by:

  • Delivering ads to large audiences without collecting personal and identifying data from their browsers. This will essentially group segments of people together with sets of similar characteristics, but the groups themselves will remain anonymous.

  • Conversion metrics tracking, such as clicks, purchases and leads without individual user tracking. This should allow identifiers that indicate whether a conversion takes place on a website, but without revealing personal information.

  • Allowing websites to collect key reporting metrics from browsers, using an API, while adhering to the anonymity of users.

  • Fraud detection by use of “Trust Tokens” that work by giving users tokens of trust (kind of like cookies, right?) as they browse, which are subsequently used to verify they are in fact – actual users.

How do these third party cookie and privacy sandbox changes impact marketers?

Since blocking third-party cookies does not completely mean the end of tracking, it likely just means that the Privacy Sandbox technology that is being developed will replace third-party cookies altogether. So, from a Google Ads perspective, little will seem to change on the front end. Now, because nothing is finalized yet, this information is based on what we know so far. With time, as the third-party cookie ban comes closer, we will learn more, and absolutely share.

So, when is the Privacy Sandbox change coming?

 

The Privacy Sandbox is already being tested, and testing is complete, there is a proposed timeline by Google for Privacy Sandbox milestones:3rdPartyCookieTimeline

  • Late 2022: Key Privacy Sandbox (PS) technologies to be deployed.
  • 9 months from late 2022: PS technologies can be phased-in by the development community.
  • Mid-2023: Phasing out of third-party cookies on Chrome
  • Completed by late 2023: The phasing out of third-party cookies

Google’s new site, privacysandbox.com, is expected to be updated with a more detailed timeline and more information as this progresses.

 

 

If the news of the third-party cookie ban still leaves you weary, feel free to get in touch with us, and we can come up with a marketing transition plan together that will streamline your transition away from the third party cookie. 

 

 

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