3 min read

How brands will be affected by Google phasing out third-party cookies

How brands will be affected by Google phasing out third-party cookies

Google has delayed the phase-out of Chrome third-party cookies, for the second time. The phase-out won’t start until 2024. The given reason… ‘more testing’. 

With Google owning 83% market share, as of June 22, this is going to have a huge impact on hundreds of thousands of websites and advertisers globally. 

However, with the delay, now has never been a better time to re-think your marketing strategy to ensure you’re building out your first-party data infrastructure.

In a survey by Statista, 26% of people worldwide disabled third-party cookies in their browser while 29% changed their default privacy settings on their phone. For marketers, this could mean up to 55% of their traffic is untrackable. 


What are cookies? 

Cookies are small pieces of data from a website that is stored on the website users’ computer/website browser while they browse the internet. 

Those cookies then track and store a user’s behaviour, and actions whilst browsing. Cookies are specific to individual websites so cannot track you on another website.GDPR was implemented to give users the option to opt out of using cookies, however, a A large number of sites have made content unavailable to those users who do not opt-in for tracking.

Cookies are extremely useful for website owners, advertisers and the user. They can track browser activity, and website information (such as visitor count) plus they remember login details, items in your cart, and items a user has looked at. 

Aside from the pros of cookies, they can also breach privacy depending on how the website uses its cookie. Websites are legally obligated to inform their users on how they are going to use their data. 

However, Cookies can be very beneficial to the user, giving them a more personalised experience on the internet. 

Marketers use the data stored/collected to support their marketing and deliver ads most relevant and beneficial to the user.

Currently, marketers can only see the percentage of people who opt-in or accept cookies, and therefore can’t report accurately. 


What are third-party cookies? 

Third-party cookies are also known as tracking cookies.  A third-party cookie can be set by a third-party server, such as an AdTech vendor, or via code loaded on the publisher’s website, and these are the ones that Google is phasing out. 

They track interests, location, age and search trends. This is the data that marketers love and have relied on for years! 

41% of marketers believe their biggest challenge will be their inability to track the right data. – AdWeek 


Why do people disable cookies? 

Many people disable cookies as they believe they are a security threat. In some cases, this is true as not all websites are safe. 

Within the EU, cookie banners have strict requirements. All websites that collect personal information about internet users need to display a banner. Since this introduction, more people are becoming aware of cookies and therefore block them thinking it is the safest option for them. 


Introducing the Privacy Sandbox

The Privacy Sandbox is Google’s solution to a safer, more privacy focused web and will be Google’s replacement of third-party cookies and other tracking solutions. 

The privacy sandbox is designed to keep users’ data safe, private and secure whilst also preventing invasive tracking. It’s an open-source initiative that is being designed by Google, and both web and app developers. 

We’re currently unsure on how this is going to affect marketing due to the limited information Google has currently shared. However, more information is to be released on the Privacy Sandbox in the coming months. 


What does the phase-out of third-party cookies mean for advertisers? 

It means brands have to adapt and find creative solutions to their problems. 

If marketers aren’t receiving signals /data – they can’t effectively measure the impact of a channel, especially at a multi-touchpoint level, making it difficult to evaluate user journeys.

Facebook’s answer: modelled data – conversion API but this is not a complete solution. 

This means marketers need to be creating their own systems to collect and manage user data so that when the phase-out eventually happens, the marketing team is prepared and will be less affected than those brands/businesses that didn’t prepare. 


How can marketers prepare for a third-party cookieless world?

Marketers should start building out their first-party data infrastructure for a privacy-first world. 
Businesses should also start implementing GA4 and server-side tracking, whilst also building a CRM. This will be crucial to ongoing success and making sure customers want to, and feel comfortable handing over their data. 
Marketers should also experiment with developing measurement frameworks that don’t rely on third-party tracking e.g market mix modelling. 


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