Google, third party cookies and you

The removal by Google of third party cookies in 2022; for some a privacy win (or improvement at any rate), for some a revenue threat and for some a threat to competition – but what are the practical implications for you?

First off, what’s a cookie and why does it matter to your business? A cookie is a little bit of code which stores data on your computer allowing it to be identified by website browsers, and there are two main types.

First party cookies are created by the website you’re visiting, this allows the website to remember where you are in your shopping process and what you’ve added to your cart, or your language settings, or login details and so are helpful in creating a positive user experience.

Third party cookies meanwhile are created by websites other than the one you’re directly visiting – a ‘third party’ – usually an advertiser. They use these cookies to track your browsing history and display ads based on that history, which is why they have been so valuable to marketers and advertisers as they reveal insights into your behaviour and allow for greater personalisation of adverts.

What’s going on elsewhere?

We’ve talked about how Google is removing these third party cookies come 2022 but what are others doing?

Well, Apple’s Safari limited cookie tracking in 2017 and Firefox introduced Enhanced Tracking Protection by default in 2019 (demonstrating scale, since then they have blocked 3.4 trillion cookies). Then, in February of this year Firefox went one step further and introduced Total Cookie Protection.

Google is not therefore going to be the first to start limiting or blocking third party cookies but its dominance in the market (as of March 2021, Google Chrome accounted for about 67% of the global desktop internet browser market share according to Statista) means its actions will have the greatest impact.

And what can be learnt from what others have done? Apple’s launch of iOS 14.5 means mobile apps have to ask users who have upgraded to it for permission to gather their tracking data. Since launch (26th April) the % of mobile active users opted in and thereby giving permission is only 13% worldwide and 5% in the US according to Flurry. It has however, at time of writing been just two weeks since launch.

What will Google be doing instead?

Google recently announced it will not be building alternate identifiers to track users across the internet as has been mooted as an option by some in the advertising technology industry. Instead it will be developing Federated Learning of Cohorts (FLoC) which will group users together based on interest and in large enough groups that they are effectively anonymous thereby protecting the privacy of individuals but still allowing advertisers to target adverts based on age for example. More on this to come.

Adapting to this new world

The changes that are coming around third party cookies are going to have a huge impact and will take some getting used to so it’s worth preparing now, no matter your organisation’s size. And while it’s still unclear how many advertising technology platforms will operate from 2022 there are things you can put in place now that will yield value in the short term and help ensure you’re set for 2022.

In broad terms a comprehensive long term marketing strategy that supports long term brand building will be essential.

Drilling down further it’s time for a review of your first party data and how you use it. Now is your opportunity to experiment with different ways of collecting quality data, whether that be through competitions / promotions, new pop up forms and styles of question on registration forms. This is also the time to consider new / different lead generation tools and campaigns. In every instance it’s vital to test the content and creative to establish the combination that is most effective in capturing information you can use to guide your future marketing and advertising.

This is also the time to map out how integrated all your data collection points are with your back office systems, do you know exactly what first party data you already collect and where this is stored?

Once you know what you already have and where it is you can focus on improving how you use it, how you analyse it and you measure campaigns in future .

To discuss your website data in more depth contact our specialists today.