For years, brands have been using third-party cookies to track website visitors in a bid to improve the user experience, as well as to collect all important data and information that can be used to target ads to the perfect audiences. Cookies can also be used to help us learn more about our audience’s activity online while they’re not checking out our website, as well as providing marketers with insights into their behaviours to build robust user profiles.
However, as the digital landscape has changed, users feel this mass collection of data was a breach of privacy. Therefore, by the end of this year, Google will phase out a ban on third-party cookies.
As businesses prepare to face one of the biggest challenges of their time, it’s important to understand the developments and what they mean. Keep on reading to find out how you can best prepare for the ban on third-party cookies.
What is a third-party cookie?
A third-party cookie is a tracking code, generated by another website other than your own, that is placed on a user’s computer. When the user goes on to visit your site and others, the cookie can track this activity and send the information back to the third-party who created the cookie. In some cases, this may be an advertiser.
Third-party cookies were once crucial for online advertisers to learn information such as what websites they visit and how frequently, what their purchases have been, as well as their interests on various other websites.
For example, imagine you have researched a Smart TV on Amazon. You then go onto another website and, there on the page, is an Amazon ad for the exact product you were looking at. If the site you visited was not owned by Amazon, it is highly likely the advertisement you saw was triggered by third-party cookie data.
Why has Google decided to ban third-party cookies?
With as many as 72% of British consumers conscious of how their personal data is used when browsing online, third-party cookies have acted as an erosion of trust from online consumers.
The decision to ban third-party cookies came as part of the larger Privacy Sandbox initiative, which aims to personalise (or target) web ads while still respecting and protecting user’s privacy.
In an attempt to accumulate all the important data that you want, third-party cookies amass huge amounts of personal data from end-users that is then distributed and shared within digital communities.
And it isn’t just the collection of personal data that is seen as the issue – it’s the fact that extensive profiles can be made, consisting of up to thousands of different forms of data points, including credit card transactions, social media profiles , IP addresses and sensitive browser searches.
What does this mean for ad targeting?
Many businesses have been relying on the data produced from third-party cookies, and as it stands, these are the types of advertising options that will be most affected by the ban of third-party cookies:
To combat the issue around ad targeting, Google has proposed an idea called trust tokens. This process means that users will still have to give out personal data, just in combination with other APIs in the Privacy Sandbox, which places users in an aggregated ad target group that requires the processing of personal data.
The processing of personal data by trust tokens will be done on the user’s browser and not by third-party cookies, therefore, Chrome will still be able to process data such as browsing history to more accurately collate users into similar groups that advertisers can target for their marketing campaigns.
What are the next steps for your business?
Naturally, many businesses may be feeling at a loss as to what to do next to react to the phasing out of the ban. However, by ensuring you have a robust strategy in place ahead of time, you can be well equipped to counteract the loss in third-party data.
Perhaps one of the best things you can do right now is to stay up to date with the latest best practices, especially those relating to third-party cookies and online privacy.
If your current advertising strategies rely on third-party cookie data, now is the time to start considering some alternatives, as you can have more time to experiment with other forms of online advertising before the rollout is completed at the end of the year.
From considering new software’s that allows you to better leverage first-party data, to revitalising older strategies, you can ensure that your business remains as safe as possible during this rollout phase.
What are the main things to know about Google’s cookie phase-out and privacy pivots?
As part of this phase-out, it’s important to know what is and isn’t affected.
For example, not all cookies are being banned. First-party cookies, consisting of a code that is generated and stored on a user’s computer by default when they visit your website, will remain. First-party cookies are predominantly used to support user experience and remember information such as passwords, basic data, and other preferences.
First-party cookies are still incredibly valuable, as they can provide information on what your user did while visiting your own website – this allows you to generate tailored experiences around them, as well as marketing strategies.
Secondly, it’s important to note that Google won’t be stopping tracking web users entirely. Instead, Google will be applying an anonymised, group-based tracking approach, instead of tracking individual users. This decision was made based on the fact that, after all, tracking groups is far more beneficial to businesses than targeting each individual at a time.
Group tracking works by clustering individuals together with other similar profiles, providing businesses with information of people with common interests.
The anonymised, group-based tracking is believed to be just as effective as individual tracking and will work in line with on-device processing and other privacy-preserving technologies to offer a clearer and more compliant path.
Successful results in group tracking have already been seen from FloC, a technology that allows effective group tracking by removing third-party cookies from the advertising equation and hiding individuals within larger groups.
Finally, the ban of third-party cookies does not need to be feared, as it can still provide innovations for the marketing industry, especially for adaptable and skilled brands and agencies.
With the laws surrounding online privacy continuing to evolve, this is the perfect opportunity for brands to look to less-invasive and less-vulnerable forms of advertising. For example, we can help you to create ads that target groups on the masses, identifying with a large and impactful audience, removing the need for often irritating and invasive pop-up ads.
What will remain unaffected by the ban?
For individuals logged into popular platforms such as Google, Facebook and Amazon, they will still experience tailored ads. However, this is purely because these platforms take advantage of an information-rich, first-party relationship. Many marketers are referring to this as “walled gardens” of first-party data, in which there is no reliance on third-party cookies.
For advertisers, the ability to purchase clusters of audiences (such as Google’s customer match and Facebook’s custom audiences) remains – this is based on the platforms developing ability to provide tracking solutions and standard contextual behavioural targeting.
This information is based on a consumer's interaction directly with ad tech platform websites, not supplementary data or other website interactions.
Are you looking to update your advertising strategies in line with the ban on third-party cookies?
At Champions, we don’t believe this new rule is anything to panic about and, with proper preparation and a full understanding, businesses and advertisers can continue to thrive.
Get in touchwith the digital team at Champions today to discuss your new digital strategy and find out how you can excel online.
With our expertise in the digital sector, combined with our experience in various industries, all complemented by our personable approach, we can ensure you have marketing, digital and advertising strategies in place, as well as continued support to guarantee your success.