Cookies take the biscuit

What does the third-party cookie phase out mean for your business?

Google have started to phase out third party cookies but what does that mean? Let’s go back to basics…

What are cookies? 

A cookie is a small text file which is added to a user’s browser when they visit a website. Some cookies are necessary for websites to function, and others are used for innocent tracking and analytical purposes and are deemed as standard.

There are also cookies used for marketing purposes. These track your online activity to help advertisers deliver more relevant ads, or limit how many times you might see an ad.

First Party Cookies – the wholesome goody two shoes.

These are the cookies that are created, stored, or managed by the website that you are on. This might allow the website to collect analytical data on your session, remember your preferences, and collect other helpful data.

First party cookies are considered innocent and helpful.

They are created by the website you’re visiting, and often help improve the user experience. They allow the browser you’re using to remember key pieces of information, such as your password, so you don’t have to log in each time, or any items you may have previously added to your basket on an eCommerce website.

Third Party Cookies – the sneaky voyeur.

These are cookies created by domains other than the one you’re visiting. Most commonly, they’re used for cross-site tracking, remarketing, and serving users more relevant ads.

Third-party cookies that are created by websites other than the one you’re visiting often cause confusion and privacy concerns. Used to track user behaviour and support online advertising/remarketing they help advertisers by retargeting ads to users even when they are on a different site.

You’d be surprised at some of the services supported by cookies – live chats and chat bots rely on them, as well as some CRM and lead monitoring systems too. Even social media sharing buttons utilise them too.

Why care about cookies now?

Browsers are beginning to act on cookies. They’re starting to take user privacy more seriously, and they’re implementing changes to their browsers that better protect users.

Google announced that Google Chrome (the most popular browser in the world) would begin to phase out third-party cookies which can be used to "follow" a user from site to site over the next two years.

This has ramifications for the digital marketing industry. Some of the changes that have been or are about to be implemented by browsers will have a big impact upon the way digital marketing can operate.

With an increased focus on user privacy, cookie practices have become a huge talking point – despite the fact it’s been so commonplace (and many online experiences are only possible because of cookies).

3 key changes browsers are making:

1. Browsers are now doing a better job of informing their users about what cookies are, and how they’re being used.

2. Browsers are making it a lot easier for users to control and access cookie preferences.

3. Browsers are restricting malicious cookies.

What does this mean for your business?

The removal of third-party cookies will impact:

Behavioural targeting – the ability to target ads to a user based upon their wider shopping or research behaviour.

Retargeting/remarketing – the ability to target ads to a user based upon the previous websites they’ve visited.

Frequency capping – the ability to restrict the number of times a user sees an ad, if you don’t want to overwhelm them.

Attribution – the ability to see where a user first found your website, and credit any resulting sales/enquiries to that channel.

These digital marketing functions won’t disappear from the web completely, but they will be impacted, and digital advertising is likely to become more complex and content driven as a result.

What does this mean for the future?

Advertisers will be forced to innovate and come up with new digital marketing activities to reach audiences.

We are likely to see a return to contextual advertising and outcomes-based marketing will increase. That is, adverts targeted to specific audience groups based on the website being visited.

There will almost certainly be an increase in the importance of high-quality engaging content that results in greater transparency in your digital relationships with audiences.

Businesses should be encouraged to think more deeply about the relationships between their channels and audiences.

With the advent of GDPR and increased discussion around user privacy, brands who are built utilising practices that aren’t ethical will falter.

So, will your digital marketing cookie crumble? Or are you already developing a new recipe to take the digital biscuit to a whole new level?

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