The Digital Marketing world has once again been thrown a curve-ball with the news that Google will phase out the use of third-party website cookies on its Chrome browser by 2022.

Whilst Google is not the first technology company to move away from cross-website cookies (bans have already been introduced by the likes of Apple, Microsoft and Mozilla), its aim places the final nail in the coffin of the humble cookie.

So, what does this mean? How did this happen? And, how will it affect your business? Let’s find out.

What are cookies?

Website cookies are small-packets of information that your computer stores within a web browser (such as Google Chrome or Internet Explorer), and is used to help a website keep track of your visits and activity.

Websites could require this information for a whole manner of reasons. For example; an eCommerce business would want to use cookies to ensure that your shopping cart doesn’t reset every time you leave, or a social media network can help make your sign-in experience easier by remembering your log in details for you.

If you were to reset your website cookies, you would essentially be starting again online, browsing the web as if it was the first time you had ever done so. Whilst this can be very freeing, it’s not the most efficient online experience.

It’s not particularly these cookies that Google, and other browsers, are wanting to move away from however. Third –party tracking cookies, often utilised data platforms, may be used to create long-term records of your internet history, collecting a deep profile of you and your online history.

Unlike their first-party counterparts, third-party tracking cookies are accessed on websites that didn’t create them. This allows the cookie’s creator to collect and receive user browsing data from an array of different sources and websites.

 

Why do companies track your browsing history?

Quite simply; to make money. The advertising industry is worth a staggering $565 billion, and information sits at the heart of it. The more information you have, the better you can target your potential customers and increase sales. However, as the industry grows the information collected and sold by providers utilising third-party cookies has become more invasive.

For example, dating apps such as Grindr, OkCupid and Tinder have recently been accused of potentially breaking European privacy laws with their decision to collect and sell user invasive information such as their dating choices and precise locations.

In a post-GDPR world, browsers have begun to realise that this is, quite frankly, an unacceptable practice and they need to do more to protect their users online.

 

How will this affect my business?

If you are a business that relies heavily on its digital marketing activities this decision could have a significant impact on how your organisation targets and communicates with potential customers online.

Depending on how Google Chrome (and other browsers) decide to move forward, we could begin to see the end for third-party data platforms and multi-touch attribution providers. How marketers and advertisers collect, manage and track their campaigns will rely more heavily on first-party data solutions, which could lead to a data monopoly for companies such as Google, Apple and Microsoft. This is likely the main reason for browsers to move away from third-party cookies, however we can dream that they have their user’s interests solely at the heart of their decision.

 

Why is this a good thing?

Moving forward, it’s unclear at this stage what the data landscape will look like in 2022, but you can rest easy that this isn’t the end of your data strategy, just a re-alignment.

Reliance will of course become heavier on first-party cookies, but the fundamentals of your digital advertising approach will be largely unaffected – unless you are acquiring personal identifiable information (if you are, stop that!).

How we use the internet has evolved a lot over the past 25 years, but website cookies have remained largely unchanged in all that time. This is far from the ‘cookie-pocalpse’ that is being portrayed online, but an opportunity for a fresh start for the whole digital industry.

With Google’s decision to phase out third-party cookies by 2022, the media industry has been offered a period of transition to establish better practices and an environment for innovation. We may even see a renaissance for more traditional marketing and advertising practices has we move away from invasion and towards inspiration.

 

To discuss how your business can improve its digital marketing activities and get your data strategy ready for 2022, speak to one of our expert marketing consultants today!