There is no prize in guessing the biggest debate on the internet!
Most people are wary of online tracking. Also, government bodies recognize this as a major concern.
It’s a mainstream issue, and a rather defining one at that. It is quite clear that tech companies must ensure optimum user privacy to retain and grow their user base.
A lot of action is underfoot, and more is yet to come in recent years. It’s this concern that prompts websites to ask for your consent before installing cookies.
Browsers such as Mozilla and Safari prohibit the use of third-party cookies. Google Chrome, the biggest browser also, has an incognito mode.
In fact, early this year, Google announced that Chrome would also do away with third-party cookies. The company plans to do this in a phased manner, and complete it by 2023.
How does this decision affect advertisers? Why are cookies important in advertising? What are the options in a cookieless digital world?
How are cookies important for advertising?
Cookies are small codes that websites add to your web browsers. They help provide a custom user experience on the web.
These have expiry dates, usually from the time of last using a website. They can be active for months, even years. Users can personally delete cookies before the expiry date.
Here’s how they define advertising.
- Saving your preferences
- Autocomplete functions such as name, address, and passwords
- Storing data such as items added to the shopping cart
- Ensuring the security of protected servers
- Suggest relevant ads
It is good to remember that cookies drive ads, and ads drive revenues. This revenue, in turn, funds the free web. This includes services such as Google search, Facebook, Twitter, and Gmail. In addition, thousands of people all over the world depend directly on the digital ads ecosystem.
Cookie usage by Google
Here are some of the major cookies used by Google. Manage cookies as you wish in Chrome’s settings. You can delete existing cookies, and set preferences. It also permits you to allow or block all cookies.
- ‘NID’ shows ads in Google services for signed-out users
- ‘ANID’ shows Google ads on non-Google sites
- ‘IDE’ also serves the same purpose, more or less
- ‘DSID’ helps to identify the signed-in user on non-Google sites
- ‘_gac_’ cookies are from Analytics
- ‘_gads’ lets sites show personalized ads
Different types of cookies
Cookies come in two flavors, first party and third party. When the domain you visit directly stores the cookie, it counts as a first-party code.
It helps with a custom user experience, such as remembering your language setting. These also collect analytics data to grow your browsing profile.
Third-party codes come via domains other than the ones you directly visit. Typically, the ad servers on publisher websites host these.
Their functions include:
- Re-targeting: Presenting ads on products that users show interest
- Ad-serving: The particulars of presenting ads, such as when to show them
- Cross-site tracking: Collecting browsing data from multiple websites
Google’s plan with third party cookies
Google has been considering its response to third-party cookies for quite some time.
In late 2019, they announced the deployment of a system called the ‘Privacy Sandbox.’ Google also explained that abrupt blocking of third-party cookies might encourage alternate identifiers for data tracking.
Besides, they also noted the role played by digital ads to fund the free web as it is.
Then, in January 2020, Google announced the intent to phase out third-party cookies by 2022. Their next announcement came in March this year. Google made it clear that the phasing out of third-party cookies is imminent.
The tech giant also clarified that they would not be using alternate identifiers to replace third-party cookies. An update in June specified the duration for this phase-out. The process is to begin in mid-2023 and will be over by the end of the year.
Alternatives offered by Google
Google assured advertisers of viable alternate solutions. In the future, privacy-preserving APIs will largely replace third-party cookies. These APIs can still deliver results to advertisers even without individual tracking.
Google also hinted at data aggregation. They clarified that a system called FLOC ( Federated Learning of Cohorts) is in motion. Tests show that FLOC can access user data based on a collective experience.
In other words, Google intends to create user groups based on browsing details instead of individual tracking.
First party cookies will be retained
First-party cookies will continue to play a major role in fueling Google Ads.
So, advertisers can still count on first-party data from the biggest search engine in the world. With more than 5.6 billion queries every day, it is easy to imagine the immense leverage of this data.
They primarily rely on keyword inputs to show ads. Video ads and search ads continue to be the major source of revenue for Google Ads. Third-party cookies are mostly relevant for showing display ads across the Google Display Network.
Adjusting in a cookie-free world
As of now, third-party cookies are still applicable in Chrome. As you continue to use it, always keep an open eye on the latest updates from Google.
Find more information on Privacy Sandbox, FLOC, and the privacy APIs as they become available. At the same time, some marketers are also focusing more on alternatives that don’t need third-party cookies.
These include traditional options such as contextual ads and greater use of emails. Contextual ads are those that tally with the content on the page where the ads show up.
Third-party cookies allow the display of ads that do not necessarily belong to the same niche as the publisher’s website. At the moment, it only makes sense to wait and see what the future brings.
Google Ads without cookies: Conclusion
Advertisers need not be afraid about phasing out third-party cookies from Chrome. Admittedly, it is going to be a major change, but it is nevertheless a well-planned one. Alternate options are already in place.
It is only a matter of time that advertisers learn how to make the best of it, even without third-party cookies. In addition, phasing out will improve the privacy aspect. This is likely to further boost online business in the coming years.
As always, reach me out if you need any help regarding your Google ads management…