“FOMO” (fear of missing out) is a point of great anxiety for anyone working in digital marketing today. The rate of change in the marketplace continues to accelerate. A day away from industry news can leave marketers (and clients) scrambling to adjust in response to major practice, policy, and process changes – especially from global giants like Google. When Google changes how they operate, like their browser cookies, companies reliant on their platforms and products pay the price – in confusion, in campaigns that run at a reduced capacity, and in time spent playing catch-up.
This month, we’re focusing on Google’s delay of their dreaded third-party “Cookiepocalypse”. This is the first post in a two-part series. The second post will focus on the importance of first-party data as sources of third-party data are eliminated.
Understanding the Browser Cookie Concept
To understand the value and impact of browser cookies, it helps to outline how cookies work.
A computer “cookie” is a packet of data. When you visit a website, that data packet is stored by your browser to track your online activity. As explained on Norton.com, there are many different types of cookies, each with a specific (often helpful) purpose:
- To keep track of the items in a user’s shopping cart as they navigate across multiple links and retain the contents of that cart for a specified time even if they leave the site without making a purchase
- Keep track of a current session or recent visit to a particular site
- Keep track of your login information, allowing you to store passwords on commonly used sites
As you can see in the examples above, tracking activity across the internet is what cookies do best. Banning all cookies would make most websites impossible to navigate.
However, a setting that controls or limits third-party tracking cookies can help protect your privacy while still making it possible to shop online and carry out similar activities. Check-out instructions to manage cookies for these popular browsers: Chrome, Microsoft Edge, and Safari. Mozilla’s FireFox browser blocks third-party cookies by default.
How Marketers and Advertisers Use Internet Cookies
Cookies provide site owners – as well as marketers and advertisers – with information about visitor behavior, preferences, and interests.
- First-party cookies are created by the site you visit. First-party cookies help provide a better user experience. They enable the browser to remember important user information, such as your shopping cart and passwords.
- Third-party cookies specifically are created and placed by websites other than the website you’re visiting. Some common uses include cross-site tracking, retargeting and ad serving. Third-party cookies creep people out because they remember data about you between browsing sessions.
Companies have employed digital analytics, advertising tech, and marketing solutions to track customers and create data “profiles”, thus connecting their behaviors across touch points.
Cookie information can be used ethically to deliver tailored, targeted, and relevant content, ads, and offers to site visitors wherever they browse online. However, the unethical use of tracking cookie data has led to privacy concerns.
Understanding the Influence of Google (Cookies and Internet User Privacy)
When you hear the word “Google” you may think immediately of online search. However, Google has become one of the most influential tech companies in the world through their consumer products including software (Gmail, Chrome, Google Maps…), hardware (Pixel smartphones, Google Home, Chromebooks…), and internet services (Google Fiber, etc.).
According to HubSpot, 92% of 2021 global online search activity happened via Google. Google facilitates approximately 72% of the desktop market and 92% of the mobile search engine market. By comparison, Google’s competitors Bing only holds 2.5% of market share and Yahoo accounts for 1.5%.
“It’s estimated Google processes approximately 63,000 search queries every second, translating to 5.6 billion searches per day and approximately 2 trillion global searches per year. For users signed into their Google account, Chrome’s browser history provides the data necessary for Google to construct a profile based on age, language preference, gender, and search preferences, which informs the type of search results returned. Location offers an easy example of this approach — if users have location services turned on, Google search results will be filtered by geographic location to increase overall relevance.”
Panic: Google Announced Deletion of Third-Party Cookies in 2022
In January 2020, Google announced they would phase-out storage of third-party cookies in their market-leading Chrome browser over the next two years. Then in June, Apple announced limiting the use of its Identifier for Advertisers (IDFA), in iOS apps. Digital advertisers have long used these identifiers for targeting, pacing, measuring, and personalizing their campaigns.
According to Statista.com, during a 2021 survey carried out among senior marketers from the United States, 80% percent of respondents stated that third-party cookies were important for their current marketing strategy.
Relief: Google Postpones Deletion of Third-Party Cookies until 2023
In June 2021, Google announced it would delay the “Cookiepocalypse” until 2023. Digital marketers and advertisers breathed a collective sigh of relief.
Going forward, Google will work with global partners to create acceptable advertising options that meet privacy guidelines.
According to TheVerge.com: “Google has found itself in a very difficult place as the sole company that dominates multiple industries: search, ads, and browsers. The more Google cuts off third-party tracking, the more it harms other advertising companies and potentially increases its own dominance in the ad space. The less Google cuts off tracking, the more likely it is to come under fire for not protecting user privacy. And no matter what it does, it will come under heavy fire from regulators, privacy advocates, advertisers, publishers, and anybody else with any kind of stake in the web.”
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Media Venue has 20+ years of experience. Having helped clients in a variety of industries reap the benefits of effective local, regional, and national campaigns.
In a media landscape that is constantly changing, Media Venue is a trusted partner and guide.
As Media Venue’s Digital Marketing Manager, Christine Long has over 15 years of experience planning and executing integrated campaigns combining online advertising, content marketing (social media, blogging), email marketing, audience segmentation, promotions, and live events. Researching and writing about best practices in digital marketing allows her to utilize these practices to serve her clients.