What We’re Saying

The demise of third-party cookies

22 March 2021

"People shouldn’t have to accept being tracked across the web in order to get the benefits of relevant advertising."

Last week Google released a blog post – quite an important blog post that paves the way for a more privacy-first web experience. It announced that it would not be developing alternative cross-website tracking methods to replace 3rd party cookies.

“People shouldn’t have to accept being tracked across the web in order to get the benefits of relevant advertising.”

So what does this mean, and why is it so profound? Well, this announcement reaffirms the commitment made by Google to develop privacy-first technologies that protect consumers while at the same time provide business with marketing opportunities across its broad and diverse media inventory.

In terms of how it measures and targets users we are seeing a move away from traditional third-party cookies to focus more on first party data for targeting with a greater emphasis on modelling for measurement to plug any apparent data gaps.

Last weeks announcement certainly cements Googles previous commitment and will require contingencies to deal with the deprecation of cookies created from first-part data, increasing levels of automation and the greater policing of the adoption of privacy-first technology. It does however point to a more user centric future that safeguards and upholds user’s privacy while limiting traceability.

In terms of how people will be targeted, the use of fully consented first party data is its cornerstone, most especially on Google owned and operated media platforms like YouTube and Search. This will be added to by Google’s owned audiences who access these platforms through logging in.

The real change however starts to appear on the Google Display Ad Network. Instead of relying on individual user cookies, Google will now use technology such as FLoC (Federated Learning of Cohorts) to group audiences together into larger, interest-based cohorts. Advertisers can then target people based on the cohort as opposed to individually targeting them.

Recent tests that have been carried out on the concept suggests there is no shortfall in consumer spending when compared to cookie targeting but a much more pleasant user experience. Such changes will also require media agencies to play by the rules and ensure their clients capture data that honour the new code and implement tracking that makes the best of machine learning to improve not hinder the online user experience.

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