Google is always up to something, and it is difficult to tell what will impact you as a consumer, a marketer and as a business. The latest change they announced will affect all three. However, there is a lot to take into consideration.
Cookies are basically data that tracks your activity online. Third party cookies allow you, as a business or advertiser, to obtain information when that user has not been to your site before.
One of the huge issues with third-party cookies is privacy and the sharing of consumer information without the consumer knowing how or when it is being used.
In August 2020, Google began an initiative called Privacy Sandbox. According to the Chromium Blog, the Google team was tasked with developing a set of standards to enhance privacy on the web designed “to make the web more private and secure for users while also supporting publishers”. This includes more transparency and choice for users with their data. Ultimately, this means Chrome will join Safari and Firefox and block third-party cookies. Safari and Firefox have already started blocking third-party cookies, but Google is not jumping on the bandwagon just yet. Google is working on a phased approach instead.
In the same blog, Justin Schuh, the Chrome Engineering Director, writes that Google’s intention is to start blocking third-party cookies within 2 years, with trials occurring by the end of the year. They are looking at solutions for advertisers that still allow demographic targeting without targeting a specific user (and being super creepy about it).
Well, lots of reasons. With third-party cookies we can see what the user is interested in based upon their web page visits, social media and YouTube visits, similar products/websites, and of course, basic demographic information. And with that information in the marketer’s proverbial hand, we can target users accordingly. For example, do you ever feel like an advertiser follows you across multiple platforms when you don’t remember going to their website? Targeting applied as a result of third-party cookies is probably why.
In the end, Google isn’t the first company to study privacy issues, and ultimately, an increase in privacy protection will be good for consumers. Afterall, we as marketers are consumers too! However, these changes will require us to adjust.
In the past, marketers have been successful without the advantage of data gathered by third-party cookies, and we will continue to be as we look toward a future that is again without them. The sophistication of Google ad tools and other paid digital media will assure that investments are made wisely… when used properly. We will just need to reach for a different snack food.