Third-Party Cookie Removal: Google’s Change to the Future of Advertising

  • Insights
by Andy Reed,
Senior Performance Marketing Specialist

Google’s Chrome cookies have helped marketers for years discover third-party data to understand their audience for improved targeting. While this data has been a tool to help collect information as an identifier for advertising, Google plans to remove third-party cookie data entirely leaving obstacles for advertisers in the years to come.

 

Why Are Cookies Being Removed?

When Google initially stated that cookies would be removed, it was anticipated that all third-party data would be phased out by 2022. Since the beginning of this year, Google has now announced that this data is expected to be removed in late 2023 without a specific time for the rollout. The removal of cookies marks a huge privacy change for users limiting how much internet activity information is provided to advertisers.

 

While there is much speculation about cookies being removed, this is a much larger strategy from Google looking to create a privacy sandbox. The privacy sandbox is an initiative led by Google to create privacy-preserving technologies that serve as an alternative to third-party cookies. Google’s Privacy Sandbox will still be able to target users based on larger groups with similar interests and behaviors. Other browsers and apps aside from Google are looking to adapt to a first-party data strategy that allows data to be collected with user consent.

 

Google is not the first company to remove third-party cookies due to user privacy. Other companies including Apple and Firefox have begun to remove cookies in 2019.

 

What Does This Mean for Advertisers?

As advertisers have used third-party data from Chrome to improve targeting, this will no longer be available for retargeting, user tracking, and conversion attribution. It is inevitable that removing third-party cookies from Chrome will impact advertisers causing a dramatically changing landscape in the years ahead for advertising.  This will require marketers to adapt to other digital advertising targeting options with different technologies.

 

The Future of Digital Advertising

Although digital advertising relies heavily on third-party tracking, there are several alternatives to access user data. First-party data has been deemed the most credible by advertisers as this data is directly from users making it easier for forecasting user behavior. Additionally, Google Topics is a proposed replacement for third-party cookies. Interests from Google Topics are collected, and API can curate categories relevant to user behavior. Users are still able to opt-out of Google Topics if they choose to. There has been no date set for the announcement from Google of when advertisers can begin using Google Topics to help with advertising efforts.

 

While Google Topics does not have a set date, another approach advertisers are considering is using a referral program or a subscription service to help grow user data from first-party data. SERP data will also still be available for advertisers to use to understand the priority and importance of pages on your site, helping create a funnel to acquire new users without third-party data.

 

Growing Trust from New Users

While remarketing data has been able to create forecasting, user experience will never go out of style. With contextual advertising, advertisers are still able to provide high-quality and authoritative content to help provide a better user experience. Third-party removal of cookies will remove non-intrusive advertising for users.  This will allow more trust in contextual advertising that is both engaging and personalized improving targeting from first-party data sources.

 

As there is no set date for when exactly third-party cookie data will be removed in 2023, it should be considered for advertisers to consider all strategies aside from direct retargeting. This involves interacting more with users to collect information data from a first-party source. As information of data adapts to meet privacy standards, advertisers still have an opportunity to retain and acquire user information by updating their data strategy. This is a reminder for advertisers that marketing personalized experiences will create new relationships to improve customer success in the years ahead.

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