All in the name of privacy? The decline of 3rd party cookies

If you’re involved in Digital Marketing, you’ll be aware by now that Google is putting a stop to 3rd party cookies, meaning the likes of Amazon and other big names will no longer be able place 3rd party cookies from Facebook, Twitter and other advertisers on sites, which ultimately, in the words of Google, is ‘protecting the privacy’ of those using the World Wide Web.

That means some of these big names will soon, NO LONGER be able to track you around the web, limiting their ability to apply audience attributes to you or place you in an audience segment, making it harder for digital marketers to apply segmented, targeted marketing across these platforms.

Think of it like this, at the minute if you use eBay for example and search for ‘blue shoes’, eBay will be able to use this to target and segment you using their first-party cookies – after all, you’ve given them the data in-platform to imply you’re into blue shoes and they will then serve product ads to you or product suggestions whilst you’re still on eBay, based on your search. eBay will then add 3rd party cookies such as the likes of Facebook/Google/other advertising platforms to your browser, meaning they can then pay these advertising platforms to show you these products and others they think you might be interested in on their platforms. (They ARE following you around the web!)

With Google essentially banning the use of 3rd party cookies, this will make it an awful lot harder for companies and advertisers to be able provide segmented, personalised, audience-based ads.

However, all is not lost for digital marketers… Google is implementing what they’re calling FLoC or Federated Learning of Cohorts.

Now, if you’re like me, you’ll be thinking that is literally just 4 words put together that make absolutely no sense. However, in reality, the concept is pretty simple – Google will use its 1st party cookies & your browsing history (when using Chrome/Google Accounts/YouTube and Gmail) to place you into a ‘cohort’ which will enable advertisers, through the Google platforms, to serve ads to you based on your history and search signals.

 For example, if you’re watching funny cat videos on YouTube, searching regularly for carpets and wooden flooring and getting regular email receipts for your weekly shopping, Google will then place you into a cohort with thousands of other people who are doing the same or similar to you.

What does this mean for Digital Marketing in the future?

With Google creating these cohorts and using its own first-party data to allow advertisers to provide targeted ads, is this really all in the name of privacy? Or is it Google attempting to monopolise the digital ad landscape by reducing the effectiveness of ads on other platforms? Will this lead the likes of Facebook and Amazon to develop their own search engines, email systems and other digital spaces to be able to gather more accurate information about their users to be able to compete with the same sort of targeting that Google will be offering? Will this give Google the opportunity to sell the ‘cohorts’ and advertising space at a higher price? At Keane, we're keeping an eye on it all, but ultimately, the answer is, we’ll have to wait and see.

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