In early 2020, Google announced plans to stop the use of tracking cookies or third-party cookies in Chrome before 2022. But as of the current update, removal of Google third-party cookies in Chrome has been delayed.
Changes have been pushed back to late 2022 with third-party cookies eliminated by late 2023. (source: Stephen Waddington)
As of June 2021, Google has released an updated timetable for its Privacy Sandbox initiative that will phase out support for third-party cookies in Chrome.
What would this mean to marketers and advertisers?
Before we talk about that, let’s first discuss the definition of Chrome and Cookies.
Chrome and Cookies defined
Chrome is a web browser that is owned by Google. As for cookies, it is a code or identifier that is placed on a user’s browser which allows the advertisers or marketers to identify a user and this user can be tracked and monitored for target customer conversion. Since Chrome has Cookies, they can aggregate personal information about people and they can use it in their advertising.
Third Party Cookies Defined
Third party cookies are created and placed by companies and vendors, mainly in the advertising technology industry. The types of personal data that third-party cookies harvest range from username and password, to individual IP addresses, to sensitive search and browser history, specific details about devices, and private information about an individual’s background information and much more.
The problem with third-party cookies is how vast the amount of personal data they collect (or the sensitive nature of that data), which can be put together to create extensive profiles on users consisting of multiple thousands of data points - your Google searches in the last 3 to 5 years, your credit card transactions, the websites you visit, and so on.
Inferences are made about the user’s preference and personality. With this profiling information, predictions about way of life and life situations can be sold to advertisers, who in turn will target their ads on a more focused, individual level.
Now that third party cookies are in the phasing out transition period, the advertising technology industry is faced with the problem of how to deal with the post-third party cookie circumstance.
One thing is clear though: the end of third-party cookies is not the end of tracking and consent
A website will still need to do the following:
Ask for and obtain the explicit consent from end-users before any data is allowed to be stored on a user’s browser (regardless of what technology is used, be it third-party cookies, local storage or trust tokens).
Inform end-users about whatever technology is used to collect their personal data, including the website’s provider, purpose and duration, and to document safely the obtained consents.
Consent is still the platform for compliant tracking today moving forward and into the future
Consent remains an important aspect to most data privacy laws. In September 2020, Google launched its Google Consent Mode that lets websites run all Google-services based on consent from their end-users.
With Google Consent Mode, it became a clear signal of intention from this giant tech company to move the advertising technology industry in the direction of consent, and to give balance to tracking technology and data privacy.
Even though third-party cookies in Chrome will be phased out within the next few years, consent will remain a fundamental aspect in tracking technologies and the Ad Tech industry.
Going back to the first question: What would this mean to the marketers and advertisers?
Google’s announcement on the third party cookies has been a wake up call for the advertising technology industry.
Marketers and advertisers have been too dependent on using data from third party cookies, not because it is the most effective way to reach their target customers but because it is the easiest way to access data on prospecting target customers.
Now is the time for the ad-tech industry to focus on reviewing the data marketing and advertising strategies they need to use in order to develop relationships with their customers in the best way possible.
On the other hand, end users like you and I are unlikely to notice any difference. We will still be watched, monitored, and targeted based on our online activities but only now as part of a group or “flock”, rather than as individuals.
Allowing cookies can improve the browsing experience through a site, especially one we often visit. Now we have the choice to opt in or opt out - do you 'accept all' or 'reject all'?