In June 2021, Google announced their plan to remove third-party cookies by the end of 2023 within Google Chrome (in July 2022, Google delayed this plan to the end of 2024). The plan to remove third-party cookies did not come as a shock to most people, however, as other browsers such as Firefox and Safari already did the same back in 2013. Google made this decision amidst popular sentiment amongst consumers to have their personal tracking data limited, and when required, safe from hackers and other companies. Read on to learn how this change will affect digital marketers and businesses.
How third-party cookies helped marketers
Essentially, third-party data helped marketers and businesses understand user behaviour across many websites. This allowed them to personalize their marketing techniques to yield high click-thru rates and conversions at a lower cost compared to traditional marketing (think of billboards, poster ads in public transport, etc. that are not as targeted). Marketers could also follow users through their buying journey and even remind them that they abandoned their cart. In fact, 80% of advertisers rely on third-party cookies to track user behaviour and deliver relevant ads, according to Epsilon.
Why did Google choose to remove third-party cookies?
The reason behind Google’s decision is similar to that of Firefox’s and Safari’s back in 2013: primarily due to consumers’ concerns about privacy and data selling. With third-party cookies being sold to external companies, there are ethical concerns about what the buyers are doing with the data, who they are selling it to, and how they are keeping it safe from hackers. While some data such as age and country of residence may not be as troubling to some if they were to be leaked, data can often include or link to sensitive or identifiable information such as full name and address - which are easily harmful in the wrong hands. This point is only solidified by research suggesting that only 11% of website visitors accepted cookies.
What can be done after third-party cookies disappear?
It’s no surprise that with the prevalence and power of third-party data in personalizing marketing efforts, 41% of marketers believe the inability to track the right data will be their biggest challenge going forward.
However, it’s important to note that Google is only phasing out third-party cookies, not all cookies. Businesses can still use first-party cookies, which include data and tracking within their own business that cannot be shared with others. This means that data collected on a certain domain is not shared with advertising partners or other websites (directly).
Like all cookies, first-party cookies came into existence as a way to aid the user, for convenience, before being further engineered to connect and cater the buying or advertising experience. First-party cookies are what makes it possible to remain logged in to your favourite news feeds, social media platforms, and online grocery sites, offering conveniences with specific and hopefully reasonable allowances to deliver features. Before auto-fill-type browser features, first-party cookies pre-filled your username so you didn’t have to each time you logged into a website.
First-party cookies are used for clever and effective marketing. One method is to offer a special offer for first-time users, such as a discount or free offer. Another technique personalizes a website to each user based on their activity on previous visits. For example, you likely notice that Amazon retains information about what you were shopping for in order to personalize what you see when you arrive at the homepage next time.
When third-parties cookies are finally dropped, older marketing techniques may make a comeback. Contextual advertising, for instance, is the method of placing ads in content based on the type/category of the content. If you are marketing for a furniture brand, you could place ads in articles about home decor. There is less personalization in this method, but it is still likely to reach the right target audience.
To learn more about what UpOnline is doing to prepare for the fall of third-party cookies and how our services can provide maximum tracking without the use of third-party cookies, contact us today!