For years, websites have been using cookies to track website visitors, collect data and improve the user experience. The collection of data via tracking cookies has allowed marketers to target ads to the proper audiences. These cookies are also used to learn what users are checking out on different websites.
Not all cookies are the same, and not all cookies will be banned as we’ll explain later. Cookies are managed differently depending on the browser and have different permissions. Essentially, cookies are pieces of code that are saved by websites onto a user’s web browser. Though cookies have many uses, the most important uses are tracking, user personalization and session management.
Cookies are not programs and don’t perform any functions. Instead, they are simple text files. In adtech, cookies track users as they visit different websites. After visiting a website, cookies on that website will be saved to the user’s browser. After a few days, if this user visits the website again, the website will know this is the same user. Some cookies can track users across the web and across devices.
First, what are third-party cookies? These cookies are set by domains that a user doesn’t directly visit. This occurs when a publisher adds third-party elements to their website, such as ads, chatbots or social plugins.
Once third-party cookies are installed, they track users and save their information. This information is used for behavioral advertising and ad targeting. For instance, if a blogger adds a YouTube link to a blog post, and a reader clicks this YouTube link, then a cookie from YouTube will be added to this user’s browser. This YouTube cookie can track the user until it expires.
Google is phasing out third-party cookies to make the web more private and secure for users while also supporting publishers, though many are skeptical about this move.
Different types of cookies, such as first-party cookies, session cookies, persistent cookies and secure cookies, do different things.
The three major web browsers — Safari, Firefox, and Google Chrome — have implemented changes or announced plans to sunset third-party cookies.
When it comes to third-party cookies, both Safari and Firefox have taken aggressive measures to block them from their browsers by default.
Neither Firefox nor Safari currently have plans to replace third-party cookies with other alternatives. But what about first-party cookies? Are first-party cookies going away? Unlike third-party cookies, Safari and Firefox still allow first-party cookies. On Safari, these cookies will expire after one day.
Is Google getting rid of cookies? Google Chrome accounts for 66% of the global market share, making it the most widely used browser that allows both first-party cookies and third-party cookies. However, Google will be sunsetting third-party cookies. Google plans to remove the third-party cookie by 2023 and replace it with various solutions currently in development. For the time being, both third-party and first-party cookies work on Google Chrome.
For many, this announcement from Google isn’t surprising after previous announcements about privacy on the web browser, including the proposed Privacy Sandbox. The new, aggressive timeline, however, will cause repercussions for many industries, including advertising.
Google intends to sunset third-party cookies to make the web privacy-preserving by default. Though there are other tracking mechanisms, third-party cookies are the mechanism that people are most aware of and paying attention to.
Users are demanding more privacy on the web, including transparency, control and choice in how their data is used. To meet these increasing demands, the web ecosystem must evolve. Google hopes that with privacy-preserving mechanisms like Privacy Sandbox, it can sustain an ad-supported web that renders the third-party cookie obsolete.
Unlike Safari and Firefox, however, Google does not intend to resolve the privacy concerns by simply blocking the third-party cookie since the company believes negative consequences could impact the web ecosystem and users. Ultimately, Google worries that outright blocking third-party cookies could harm the companies that depend on online advertising. For example, without third-party tracking, marketers will lose measurement, reporting, optimization and frequency capping abilities outside of walled gardens like Google, Facebook, and Amazon. Therefore, the company is taking a more cautious approach. Though Google wants to ensure users’ privacy, it doesn’t want to do so at the cost of the ad industry it relies on.
Until Google implements an alternative, they will be working to make the current technologies more private and secure, such as by limiting insecure cross-site tracking. The effort to shift to an internet free of third-party cookies could take even longer as Google plans to wait for publishers and advertisers to agree to the future standards before sweeping changes are applied. Developers, publishers, advertisers and browsers will also be allowed to:
Those in the industry will be able to offer feedback on the proposals and ensure these mechanisms address their needs. If a business relies on the web, it may want to ensure its vendors participate in this process and share feedback with trade groups that represent its interests.
Google Chrome does intend to replace the third-party cookie with several solutions that it has in development. Currently, there is no definitive date for when these alternatives will be put in place.
Businesses will need to prepare for the phaseout. You should talk to trusted partners about how they’re handling third-party cookies today and their plans for the future. You may need to create relationships with new vendors, partners and platforms. Websites will need to be updated, and businesses will need to search for new solutions.
At Lotame, we have designed our data enrichment solutions to be independent of third-party cookies and, therefore, prepared for the future of the eventual phaseout.
We believe strongly in a connected ID-driven ecosystem and have invested in building out this connectivity. Our Panorama suite of solutions is future-proofed to offer data enrichment solutions for digital advertising – no cookies required, while our Panorama ID provides the bridge or common language that publishers and brands need to transact with each other and provide the improved experiences consumers want.
Even though Google is phasing out cookies, this won’t affect data enrichment when you have Lotame’s Panorama identity platform.
With Lotame’s identity platform, you can:
With Lotame’s identity resolution, marketers and agencies can enjoy better storytelling and easier analysis. No longer will you deal with isolated insights and scattered data resources to understand your customers. Instead, you’ll be able to enrich your first-party data with second-party and third-party data all in one place from more than 250 online and offline data providers.
And finally, reach more of your consumers with Lotame’s Panorama ID, the first global, people-based, privacy-first identifier for the open web. Lotame Panorama ID is freely accessible to and interoperable across the cookie-challenged web, all domains, devices, and platforms globally. Our solution was created with consumer privacy in the forefront. Panorama ID will give consumers control to see and own their privacy choices and will provide the marketplace with a solution that persists those choices everywhere. Furthermore, Panorama ID is not dependent on cookies to operate, making it future-proofed for advertising.
Lotame delivers flexible data solutions to future proof connectivity and drive performance across all screens. Marketers, publishers, and platforms rely on our innovative and interoperable solutions, powered by our identity platform, to onboard, enrich, and address audiences.
Contact us at Lotame today to learn more about our data connectivity solutions, and to secure your future in the post cookie world.
How are marketers and publishers adjusting their customer acquisition strategies in light of nonstop industry change? We surveyed over 1,400 decision-makers to better understand identity’s role in their cookieless future, what they’re adding and removing from the next-gen tech stack, and where they plan to invest today and in the future. Get the report here.