Third-party cookies phase out: how to prepare your business
Feb 3, 2021

Third-party cookies phase out: how to prepare your business

Image Credit: Unsplash @mitchel3uo

In January 2020, Google revealed plans to phase out third-party cookies across their Chrome browser by 2022 and replace them with new browser features that are fundamentally more private.

This idea came after more and more users started showing privacy concerns. Nowadays, internet users have a growing fear of privacy breaches. The main concerns are that their personal information is being taken and used when browsing the internet.

Over the past few years, users have learned to be more aware of what they do online and how they consent to access their personal information, most users have learned that third-party cookies can easily get some of their personal data, such as age, location, interests and hobbies. As a result, web users want more safety and privacy protection online. They want to be guaranteed the protection of their identity and personal information while online.

Since the first announcement earlier last year, Google has continued to work on at least 5 Privacy Sandbox technologies with the aim to preserve users’ privacy while preserving the vitality and sustainability of the open web.

Privacy Sandbox is developed alongside ecosystem partners with the aim to protect people’s data when navigating the web while ensuring that publishers and advertisers can still succeed in what they do. Google’s privacy-first alternative to third-party cookies is called FLoC, which essentially groups people with common interests as opposed to using individual identifiers for each person.

Digital experts will agree that advertising is a central part of the internet, an open world that offers opportunities for businesses to expand while feeding consumers with what they want and need. However, users have become more aware of this ‘openness’ and expect a web ecosystem, especially one like Google Chrome, to protect their privacy. According to Google’s recent data, the number of people who searched “online privacy” on the browser grew by more than 50% globally in 2020 compared to the previous year.

In this article, we look at Google’s FLoC, the main characteristics of this alternative to third-party cookies and what the removal of third-party cookies means for advertisers in the web ecosystem.

As a product feed software, we’re curious to see how the proposed technologies develop in the coming months and how we can assist brands with product feed optimisation tips when a definitive option is rolled out by Google.

What are third party cookies?

Third-party cookies, also known as tracking cookies, are tracking codes that are created by domains other than your own and placed on a web user’s computer.

For advertisers, third-party cookies are a way to collect data from web visitors, allowing them to learn about a user’s online behaviour, interests and previous purchases. With this data, a brand can build a user’s profile and tailor ads to its target visitor. Due to the nature of the information that can be collected through third-party cookies, web visitors must be informed that they are accepting third-party cookies while browsing.

What is FLoC?

FLoC stands for Federated Learning of Cohorts and it’s essentially Chrome’s suggested alternative to third-party cookies. This technology groups users with similar browsing behaviours together, instead of identifying people individually. Google believes that this is an innovative option that can deliver advertising results almost as effective as cookie-based approaches.

When a user visits various websites, FLoC collects and uses the algorithms from users and then places these users in cohorts made of other individuals with similar browsing behaviours and interests. The idea is that this ‘bubble’ of web users will be large enough to shield the individual users and their personal data, while still leaving room for tracking to help brands out.

Additional technology advancements

The Chrome Privacy SandBox proposal also includes privacy-safe ways to:

– Predict and protect against fraud

– Measure ad campaign effectiveness

– Find the right audiences for ads

What it means for advertisers

The majority of advertisers use third-party cookies in digital campaigns, so the news from Google inevitably means that advertisers should be thinking about their next moves and be prepared for this privacy-forward future.

According to Chetna Bindra – Google’s Group Product, User Trust and Privacy Manager, “advertisers can expect to see at least 95% of the conversions per dollar spent when compared to cookie-based advertising.”

Google is the largest online advertising community in the world and for this reason, aims to provide privacy to users while keeping advertisers happy too.

Among the proposed technologies within the Privacy Sandbox, Google wants one that will allow marketers, and partners working on their behalf, to measure campaign performance without third-party cookies. This way, Chrome can guarantee consumer privacy while supporting key advertiser requirements. For example, bidding models will be able to recognise patterns in data with measurement over groups of users rather than individuals.

By using privacy-preserving techniques like aggregating information, adding noise, and limiting the amount of data that gets sent from a user’s device, the proposed APIs report conversions in a way that protects user privacy.

Google continues to test the Sandbox Privacy technologies so this is a chance for brands and advertisers to start thinking about ways through which they can create an audience and engage with them in a fair exchange relationship that protects both sides.

Google’s proposals for a more private web also include focus is user-facing controls, as Justin Schuh – Justin Schuh – Director, Chrome Engineering, commented on Google’s latest blog post.

“it’s clear that people will want to tune whether the content is tailored to them (or not) – in addition to keeping their private info private. With the Chrome 90 release in April, we’ll be releasing the first controls for the Privacy Sandbox (first, a simple on/off), and we plan to expand on these controls in future Chrome releases, as more proposals reach the origin trial stage, and we receive more feedback from end users and industry”.

Optimisation post-third-party cookies

Without third-party cookies, product feed optimisation is going to become even more crucial for brands. The focus should be on optimising the product feed to its full potential, ensuring that every essential information is included because the more specific the product feed, the higher the chances of your shopping ads appearing in the right searches. If you can no longer rely on third-party cookies to give you hints on who you’re directing an Ad to, then ensuring that the shopping Ad is optimised to its full potential will keep your conversion chances high. You can read more about product feed optimisation here.

If you have questions about what this means for your up-coming shopping campaigns or existing ads within your product feed, then get in touch with us today!


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