Google has announced that it will no longer allow third-party cookies on its Chrome browser, joining both Apple Safari and Mozilla Firefox in the move.
Chrome is Australia’s most popular browser, with a little over 60% of users logging on with this portal, meaning the majority of Australians will be affected by the change.
Yet it’s a move that everyday users will likely hardly notice, but marketers may need to make some adjustments to their online marketing strategies.
Here’s a little more about third-party cookies, why Google is scrapping them, and what it means for your online marketing.
What are third-party cookies?
When you visit a website, that website might store first-party cookies, allowing the site to collect data points – such as your behaviour – as you move around the site.
Third-party cookies are when you visit a website and another website (the third-party) creates cookies to collect data points and information as you move around the site.
For example, each morning you check your favourite news website (website A). As you browse, a third party (website B) is collecting data about your movements and behaviours. Generally speaking, website B is using this data to advertise to you, and will use that information to show you digital display and other ads targeted to your interests and behaviours as you move around the web.
First-party cookies can be blocked or deleted by the user (although this will mean you’ll need to re-sign into the website each time) and are supported by all browsers. Users can also block or delete third-party cookies, but browsers have started automatically blocking them on behalf of users – with Google Chrome being the biggest and most influential browser of them all.
Why is Google phasing out third-party cookies?
Google made the announcement about blocking third-party cookies on its Chrome browser in a blog post titled ‘Charting a course towards a more privacy-first web’.
In it, they cite the loss of trust as a major driver behind the move:
“… [A]s our industry has strived to deliver relevant ads to consumers across the web, it has created a proliferation of individual user data across thousands of companies, typically gathered through third-party cookies. This has led to an erosion of trust.”
They also said that digital advertising must evolve to address users’ concerns about privacy.
“… [O]nce third-party cookies are phased out, we will not build alternate identifiers to track individuals as they browse across the web, nor will we use them in our products,” the release added.
In short, customers have increasingly felt like their privacy has taken a backseat to advertising in recent years, and Google has made the call to do something about it.
What it means for your business.
Google and Apple have already faced the displeasure of advertising companies and agencies because the change removes the ability for companies to personalise and target their online marketing strategies.
However, Google has already offered an alternative that seeks to become a compromise between personalised advertising and online privacy, called the Federated Learning of Cohorts (FLoC).
This tool runs in the Chrome browser and tracks a user’s browsing habits, however, instead of sharing that information directly with third parties, the user’s habits get placed into a group – a cohort. Advertisers will then be able to target particular cohorts, giving the user a little more personal privacy, while still allowing advertisers to personalise their messaging to some degree.
Google has promised marketers that this won’t drastically impact their bottom line, saying FLoC marketing will still see ‘95% of the conversions per dollar spent when compared to cookie-based advertising’.
Of course, first-party cookies are still alive and well, which means that Google’s products, such as YouTube and Search, will still collect data for advertising purposes and be able to provide targeted messaging.
Therefore marketers can make the switch from third-party to FLoC as it gets off the ground, and continue to work with first-party cookies to offer personalised, effective messaging for their audiences.
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