What happens if you give an advertiser a cookie? They want another. But what happens when you tell them they can’t have any more?
Google has decided to sunset the tracking of third party cookie data in Chrome over the next two years.
So what now?
First here’s a quick overview of what cookies are and why they are important.
Google has proposed a new set of technical solutions that would essentially replace what cookies are doing currently and would provide a way of tracking that would help advertisers target certain demographics (location, company, gender, etc.) without it tracking down to a specific person. This would at least give advertisers some insight into who they are targeting and some sort of anonymous tracking so they can see if leads turned into revenue.
What does this mean?
This doesn’t mean the end for targeted advertising, it just means a different approach. Since Firefox and Safari made this move a while back, it was just a matter of time before Chrome did as well. It just has a much bigger impact because Chrome is the most used browser. The digital advertising world and everything in it is always moving and changing. This is no different, it just means having to adapt.
The first thing you can do is make sure your site is secure. If it’s not, Chrome won’t serve your ads on sites anymore. If it is secure, your ads will continue to serve until the two-year mark when all third-party cookies will be blocked from serving in Chrome.
This change has come on the heels of the demand for more privacy and the ability to decide what you want, and don’t want, to see.
According to this article from Blooberg Technology, “Google has proposed changes that would allow tracking to continue without passing personal information back to advertisers. That could give Google more power by cutting off marketers’ use of valuable data streams, while at the same time arguably increasing privacy online.”
Some ways to work around it
Google ads recently started letting advertisers use customer lists for display and remarketing ads, likely in anticipation of this change coming. Using these lists might be the best way to target specific people with image ads once third party cookie tracking officially ceases.
Advertisers will still be able to send ads to people who have visited their website directly as a retargeting effort with first party cookies from their site.
This also won’t impact search advertising because those ads are triggered by keyword searches and not by cookie data, so advertisers will still be able to use search advertising as they always have.
Social media will also still be used in the same way and won’t see any impact from this change, which will allow advertisers to run ads on these platforms without any changes or downtime.
This is a big change for the digital advertising space but with a two-year buffer before this change takes effect, it gives advertisers, as well as Google, the opportunity to make updates and find ways to work around the change.
Read up on it (there’s so much documentation on this change) and likely there will be more as time goes on as Google finds ways to help cushion the blow of this change.
Moral of the story: take advantage of being able to have cookies while they are still around, but also be ready to adapt when they are gone.