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Google Chrome To Phase Out Third-Party Cookies: Just The Facts

January 23, 2020 Sarah Cavill

Third-party cookies have been on the back foot for some time, so the announcement from Google Chrome that the popular browser is on a “path towards making third party cookies obsolete” by 2022 is a natural progression of the ongoing changes in data acquisition.

Why Is Google Chrome Phasing Out Third-Party Cookies?

Shutterstock_315184076 Google Chrome homepage on computer screen. Google Chrome is a freeware web browser developed by Google.

Major browsers are increasingly rejecting third-party cookies because of privacy concerns by consumers stemming from the growing discomfort with data shared unknowingly. As part of Google Chrome’s new “Privacy Sandbox” initiative, designed to “develop a set of open standards to fundamentally enhance privacy on the web,” the third-party cookies will be replaced with a browser-based mechanism.

Google’s aim is to still offer personalization, but in secure environments that protect user privacy. As explained in the Google announcement, “After initial dialogue with the web community, we are confident that with continued iteration and feedback, privacy-preserving and open-standard mechanisms like the Privacy Sandbox can sustain a healthy, ad-supported web in a way that will render third-party cookies obsolete.”

How Will The New Cookie-Free Mechanism Work?

The goal of doing away with the third-party cookies has a two-year timeline, so the “how” is still being worked out. “Some ideas include new approaches to ensure that ads continue to be relevant for users, but user data shared with websites and advertisers would be minimized by anonymously aggregating user information, and keeping much more user information on-device only. Our goal is to create a set of standards that is more consistent with users’ expectations of privacy,” according to Google.

Google is reluctant to facilitate wholesale third-party cookie blocking on the Chrome browser, believing it leads to opaque work-arounds that still aren’t careful with the privacy of users. This concern is why Google is developing a new set of standards on Chrome to replace, instead of block, third-party cookies. But there are questions about how audience targeting strategies and conversions will be measured. Google aims to manage both of these issues through “privacy preserving APIs” which allow for ad delivery and measurement within the browser without revealing any individual user information.

What Should Digital Marketers Think About Google Chrome Moving Away From Cookies?

It’s unlikely that any digital marketers are surprised about the decline of third-party cookies, but there are still concerns about how the advertising world will continue to facilitate audience targeting.

As usual, there is grumbling that the goals of Privacy Sandbox are just more power-grabbing from Google, but, as Martech Today points out, “Google will need to build consensus among a broad community of publishers, advertisers, technology companies and even Apple and Mozilla.” Adding, that for now “it’s a thoughtful and reasonable approach that also plays to [Google’s] strengths – a vast ecosystem coupled with powerful data collection and modeling capabilities – and will preserve its dominant position in the digital ad market.”

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About the Author

Sarah Cavill

With more than 20 years of writing, editing and reporting experience, Sarah Cavill brings to Digital Media Solutions (DMS) a fine-tuned and diverse set of skills. Her work has been featured in notable publications including The Daily Muse, CBS Local, Techlicious and Glamour magazine. Sarah has a passion for current events and the deep-dive research that goes into the content development and brand identity of DMS Insights. In her role as Senior Marketing Communications Writer, Sarah contributes to the pitching, researching and writing of multiple stories published each week surrounding digital and performance marketing innovations in pop culture, news, social media, branding and advertising.

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