By now you’ve probably seen numerous articles following Googles announcement in 2020 that they would phase out the use of third-party cookies by 2022.
So what are third party cookies and does what are the practical impacts affecting my business?
Third party cookies are pieces of code generated to track site visitors wherever they go. A third party cookie generated by Site A will sit on a visitors computer and send information back about the online behaviour of the visitor as they go to site B, C, D and so on.
Many other search engines such as Firefox, Duck Duck Go and Safari do not track third party cookies and there has been a continuous rise in the prevalence of ad blockers and VPN (Virtual Privacy Networks) by consumers as they seek to protect privacy and information ceded and avoid targeted adverts based on these algorithms.
So is this something for businesses to panic about?
No. The basic data collected by web browsers known as “First Party” Cookies will still be gathered.
First Party Cookies provide the basic visitor details such as how long visitors spent on your website, location, what pages were of particular interest to them and so on, allowing you to create segmented marketing specific to certain visitor groups
Unlike Third Party Cookies they cannot provide insights about what your visitors do on other separate websites.
Google will continue to collect and store your first party data through the Chrome browser and while they will not target adverts at you as an individual they will categorise you in profiles called “cohorts” and use these to deliver adverts to you as you browse.
This means that businesses using Google Display, Search Video and Shopping adverts will still be able to target specific audiences, (of Chrome users), nearly as effectively as before according to Google however the likelihood is that it may cost more to run campaigns as audience segments, (cohorts) will technically be more generalised and it will not be possible to exclude those who are already engaged with your brand, (hot audiences)
Adverts will serve to those meeting certain criteria on third party websites regardless of previous engagement which will cost you more as adverts are serving to both “hot” and “cold” audiences.
Reaching previous audiences using video or display adverts on non-Google websites will be more difficult as you will not be able to target your previous visitors. This however will be possible on YouTube, text and shopping adverts as these are Google assets and formats so the first party cookies will provide the information.
Overall if your main online marketing strategies are concentrated around Google products the removal of third-party cookies from the platform will cause minimal disruption however showing adverts on third party sites will become more challenging.
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