Why the Google Third-party Cookie Takedown Doesn’t Feel Like a Victory

The time has come where Google had finally announced the end to their third-party cookie tracking back in February 2020. Well, at least through their Chrome browser. And hopefully by 2023 after their recent one-year delay. This comes years after Apple’s Safari and Firefox declared their stance for user privacy by limited or blocking third-party cookies. And now Google, the world’s most popular web browser is finally changing the game for online advertising in efforts to give back user privacy. Even if it’s just a small change that doesn’t really affect their limits on tracking.

Is it really one small step for Google, and one giant leap for user?

Understanding Third-party Cookies

Ad companies use third-party cookies to track users, collect their data and ultimately send you ads based on that data. So, when you look up snack bars through search and visiting lots of websites conducting research for a competitive strategy class and then all you see are online advertisements for varies energy bars. That’s a result of third-party cookie tracking. Google has third-party cookie code on thousands and thousands of websites. The data is used to build user profiles. This could be made up of your age, interests and buying behavior just to name a few. Making user online privacy nonexistent.

What’s on first: Google

The effects of this change on Google are little to none. They will still continue to collect your data and use it to target ads on their own platforms. While eliminating the use of third-party cookies to ad companies, Google will remain tracking and targeting through users mobile devices. This causes no impact to their bottom line. Since they will still collect your first-party data from Google Search and YouTube. So why stop the sale of web ads targeting?

With privacy awareness on the rise, could it be to please consumers, play nice with legislations, all the while harming smaller advertising firms and creating their own alternate advertising strategy.

Who’s on second: The Advertisers

The largest impact will be on marketers as they scramble to pivot to a new less intrusive way to advertise to users. They will no longer have the same access to track and target like they use to or like Google will continue to do on their platforms. Giving Google the ultimate leg up in advertising collection data. So, what will this mean for advertisers? If you rely heavily on third party data to target users online or a website that depended on ads to make money, then I’d say they’re in big trouble. For other advertisers not so much. They won’t be as affect just in need of a change. Google has come up with a solution called, Privacy Sandbox for Chrome. The proposals are intended to still allow for targeted advertising but with privacy-first in mind. Allowing for advertisers to change the way they receive data but not completely abolish it.

I don’t know is on third: The Users

What we don’t know, can’t hurt us or so we thought. Privacy has become a huge issue. With the rise of its awareness in the technology sector, more and more eyes are on Big Tech companies and what their plans are for regulations. The removal of third-party cookies is a small win for user privacy. It still does not regulate what Google is able to do with the data they continue to collect. It is unknown what the future holds long term for privacy verses the user. The limited change will not be noticed online as ads won’t disappear and user targeting will continue. What we can expect is a much less creepy way of advertising and our personal profile data collected not to be shared out between third parties. But is this enough for the future of the user?

What Marketers want to know

Google is working on an alternative solution — an AI system called Federated Learning of Cohorts (FLoC). This is an interest-based advertising technology that categorizes users into groups. The learning system will collect your data based on your interest. Advertisers will then be able to target the groups with ads. The FLoC is not without its flaws. There is no way to know currently how effective at targeting it will be compared to third-party cookies. FLoC has not made it clear what the cohort buckets will be and if certain people will be left out.

Don’t be confused

Yes, Google is removing their third-party cookies hopefully by the year 2023. Why are they finally making this change? We can assume it’s for the benefit of the user and Google. Third-party cookies were an invasion of privacy to the web user. Google will not stop tracking and targeting but will conduct it in a more subtle way. So in theory, a small step for Google to take. Advertisers that purchased user data or profited off online ads will be negatively affect. They must find a way to change their marketing strategy. Other advertisers will have an alternative option provided by Google technology. Will users see any big changes? No. Will data no longer be collected or sold? No. Will users still find ads targeting their interests? Yes.

Google is making an effort to satisfy the consumer. User’s privacy is being banned from third parties but not entirely. Users have gained an inch in a mile long race.

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thoughts and reflections on digital-first marketing from NYUSPS Integrated Marketing Grad Students

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Victoria Stein

Victoria Stein

M.S. Integrating Marketing Canidate at NYU SPS . Event Marketing Manager . Dog mom to a 9 yr. old pit-bull

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