What does the end of third-party cookies mean for my business?

Third party cookies are placed on a website by someone other than the owner to collect users’ data. Third party cookies are placed so the website can remember something about the user, to use later. Advertisers use third-party cookies to learn about a user’s browsing and online behaviours. They collect data about what websites users visit most and tailor specific ads to them.

A good example of this is Facebook using its “Like” button as a way to track your interests with cookies. Facebook will then save the cookies so they can be assessed to identify visitors and what other pages they visited.

Why is Google changing 3rd party cookies?

Google want to change third-party cookies to create a more private way of tracking web users. They’ve recently been testing out a potential replacement system called the Linchpin.

Google’s privacy sandbox is the company’s proposed solution to replace the third-party cookies. The linchpin is a privacy sandbox that aims to create web standards that powers ads without the use of tracking cookies.

Advertisers will be able to use the privacy sandbox’s APIs to receive data on conversions, ad targeting and the prevention of spam and fraud. Googles privacy sandbox is still in development and there is no certainty yet on what features will be included. Companies can help contribute to the project by submitting suggestion that will be reviewed by google.

Many industry experts have criticized the privacy sandbox approach and have said they think it’s too limiting to be the replacement of third-party cookies.

When is it happening?

Google has announced that after nearly more than two decades, third-party cookies are disappearing for good. Google have postponed the deadline for the phasing out of the third-party cookies in Chrome multiple times before. However, Google’s reasoning for the delays is to ensure marketers have enough time to adjust their advertising approach and test out new, less intrusive advertising technology.

As of right now consumers should expect google to stop using cookies in Chrome by the end of 2024.

How will it affect businesses?

The end of third-party cookies is not the end of tracking in Chrome. First-party cookies will still function by default in browsers that block third-party cookies (including Google Chrome).  First-party cookies will require consent in most cases unless the cookies are strictly necessary for the basic operation of a website.

One big change business will be facing is that the removal of third-party cookies will make it harder for advertisers to track the web activity of potential consumers. They will have to access data through other ways such as membership cards, loyalty programs and email subscriptions.

The data businesses won’t be able to access anymore is data gathered between browsing sessions. For example, when users are on a shopping site, they scroll through multiple categories and click on many different items they like. The cookies allow businesses to accumulate a good amount of data from the consumer and use it to target ads specifically or them.

Most companies that rely on third-party cookies data say they are not ready for this phase out. In fact, HubSpot report that 41% of marketers believe their biggest challenge will be their inability to track the right data.

What does the end of third-party cookies mean for consumers?

The average consumer will most likely notice a few changes during Google’s third-party cookie phase out. For example, users may notice the ads they’re being shown are less specific to their interests. This is because the phase out will make it much harder for brands to track consumers browsing habits online.

Consumers may notice that brands ask for more information more frequently as they begin to rely on first-party cookies to gather consumers data. You’ll likely be asked to fill out surveys, polls and other data gathering strategies.

Should I be worried about the end of third-party cookies?

The short answer is no. Businesses shouldn’t be worried about the removal of third-party cookies. They should however start preparing as soon as possible. Marketers don’t have to wait until google officially kills off third-party cookies to update their marketing strategies. Those who adjust their game plan now will have an advantage over their competitors who choose to wait.

Businesses have been given a rough time as to when they need to have their new strategies in place. Even though the deadline has been postponed on multiple occasions, businesses should still be working towards it.