In this article, we’ll delve into the long-expected demise of third-party cookies and explore Google's recent actions to phase out third-party cookies and examine the implications for marketers and advertisers worldwide.
Google's long-expected removal of third-party cookies has begun.
Despite initial doubts, Google took decisive steps in January 2024 to abolish cookies, affecting millions of users and prompting a reassessment of data strategies and privacy practices. The company turned off cookies for 1% of Chrome users, amounting to approximately 30 million users.
Read on to get an update on Google's removal of third-party cookies and find out what marketers can do to deal with this significant change.
What is a web cookie?
Web cookies are small pieces of data that are saved on web browsers as users navigate the internet. They carry information about people’s browsing history, behaviour and settings. On the plus side, cookies make using the internet more convenient, as they enable websites to remember information like login details, shopping cart contents, and browsing preferences.
On the negative side, cookies can be used to gather information about people without their consent. This violates the right to privacy, something that internet citizens and governments are increasingly concerned with — as evidenced by the global rise of data protection and GDPR-like laws.
There are two types of cookies: first-party and third-party. And they’re a world apart.
What is the difference between first-party and third-party cookies?
First-party cookies are created by the website (or domain) you’re visiting, with cookie data being stored directly onto your browser. The data collected enables website owners to understand how visitors are using their website, which is key to improving user experience and adding a degree of personalisation.
Any cookie that is tracking a user’s data outside of the domain which created that cookie is considered a third-party cookie.
Usually, these cookies are used for advertising purposes. Advertisers use cookie data to segment internet users into audiences based on browsing behaviour. They can then gauge advertising effectiveness by recording conversions after a user has seen one of their advertisements somewhere on the web.
Does HubSpot use third-party cookies?
No, HubSpot does not use third-party cookies. All the cookies that HubSpot stores on your visitors’ web browsers are considered first-party cookies for your website and they do not track users’ behaviour and browsing history outside of your website.
With the end of the third-party cookie, first-party data is increasing in value. This is why marketing and advertising leaders are telling companies to “make use of your own first-party data, build your own database, and segment your own audiences.”
HubSpot’s CRM and Marketing Hubs help you do exactly that by enabling you to: create a database of contacts, build re-marketing audiences based on contacts and visitors, segment your visitors and contacts into buyer personas, and help your buyer personas evolve to understand your audience better.
March 2024 Update: Google's Third-Party Cookie deprecation
At the beginning of January 2024, Google took the decisive step of turning off cookies for 1% of Chrome users, affecting approximately 30 million users.
After enduring a series of delays, 51% of global marketers surveyed by Forrester expressed doubts about Google's commitment to deprecating third-party cookies. Google has now reaffirmed its commitment, pledging to phase out cookies for 100% of Chrome users from Q3 2024.
Google's actions have not escaped regulatory scrutiny. The tech giant is facing ongoing investigations and concerns about possible anti-competitive practices in connection with the removal of third-party cookies.
As the countdown to the demise of third-party cookies continues, with the goal to phase out by Q3 in 2024, stakeholders across the digital marketing landscape are preparing for a future without this long-standing tracking mechanism. However, uncertainties loom large, prompting marketers to adapt and innovate in anticipation of the impending changes.
As stakeholders prepare for the imminent end of third-party cookies, Google's Privacy Sandbox initiative is coming into the spotlight, which will reshape both digital advertising strategies and user privacy practices.
What is Google’s Privacy Sandbox?
Google’s Privacy Sandbox is a Google-led initiative attempting to build new tools for advertisers to help them target the right audience and attribute conversions to the right campaigns. At the same time, Google aims to protect users from being identified as individuals on the web.
Previously Google had announced the development and testing of interest-based targeting technology named FLoC (Federation Learning of Cohorts). This initiative was abandoned and now the new technologies that are being tested are called Topics API and FLEDGE API.
Essentially, Google is trying to find ways to connect devices with interests which will allow advertisers to serve relevant ads to the users of those devices. This is tricky, as this technology cannot allow anyone to identify any particular user.
Third-party cookies are dead. This is what you need to know
As Google progresses toward cookie deprecation, the need for privacy-minded marketing strategies becomes increasingly urgent. It’s essential that marketers rethink their data strategies and prioritise the ethical sourcing and use of data to ensure compliance with evolving privacy regulations and consumer expectations.
Maintaining the status quo is not an option. Marketers must proactively explore new approaches and strengthen their first-party data strategies to effectively navigate the changing landscape. Here's what you can do to adapt:
Invest in a variety of targeting approaches: Marketers should invest in testing a variety of targeting mechanisms to identify which strategies perform best in a cookie-less environment. Google's new Protected Audience API, formerly known as FLEDGE API, offers promising opportunities for custom audience and re-marketing use cases while prioritising user privacy. Additionally, exploring contextual targeting alongside initiatives within Google's Privacy Sandbox can provide valuable insights into alternative targeting methods.
Embrace new campaign performance measurement approaches: The demise of third-party cookies significantly impacts the data used for measuring campaign performance. Marketers must explore alternative measurement approaches that prioritise privacy while delivering actionable insights. Google's Attribution Reporting API offers a privacy-preserving method for conversion measurement, enabling marketers to gauge the effectiveness of their campaigns without relying on invasive tracking mechanisms. Data clean rooms present another viable option for measuring campaign impact, although scalable use cases remain limited.
Zero- and first-party data collection: Increasingly, marketers are turning to zero- and first-party data to fill the gaps left by the absence of third-party cookies. Zero-party data refers to customers intentionally and proactively sharing personal data with a company. This can include customer preferences, purchase intentions, personal contexts and data about how a person wants to be recognised by the brand. By transparently and judiciously collecting zero- and first-party data, marketers can build higher-quality audience profiles and deliver more personalised advertising experiences. Implementing robust first-party data strategies and zero-party data experiences enables marketers to leverage valuable insights directly from their audience, fostering stronger connections and driving more effective campaigns.
In essence, the death of third-party cookies represents both a challenge and an opportunity for marketers. With innovative targeting approaches, new measurement methods and ethical data practices, marketers can adapt to the changing landscape and succeed in a post-cookie world.
Google's recent actions to phase out third-party cookies have triggered a major reassessment of data strategies and privacy practices among marketers and advertisers around the world.
There are many uncertainties in managing this transition, but also opportunities for innovation and adaptation. It is critical for advertisers and marketers to prioritise the ethical sourcing and use of data and ensure compliance with evolving privacy regulations and consumer expectations. In addition, utilising a variety of targeting approaches, exploring new measurement methods and employing zero and first-party data collection strategies is essential for success in a post-cookie world.
At Huble, we understand the challenges and opportunities presented by the end of third-party cookies. Our marketing consultancy services offer customised solutions to help businesses navigate this transition effectively.