That’s just the way the Chrome cookie crumbles…

By Matthew Robson
22nd February 2022

Google Chrome is abolishing third-party cookies, this time for real. The world’s most popular web browser is on the verge of reshaping the way we track.

With the recent delay in the launch date, it’s clearly no simple change. Whilst it’ll be welcomed by the average user who might view cookies as one of the most invasive aspects of using the internet, from an advertiser’s point of view; it’s made our lives much easier.

As a refresher on how cookies for advertising work, they are dropped onto your device by a third party as you browse the web. These cookies can be placed within ads, this then allows advertisers to track your movements around the web.

It allows advertisers to build up a user profile and tailor adverts to you based on your browsing history and search intent. Whilst they’ve got a bad rep from a user perspective, tailored ads can actually improve your journey.

However, they can sometimes really spoil a good surprise too… you don’t want your partner being retargeted for the engagement rings you’ve been looking at online before you even propose!

More recently, Safari (Apple) and Firefox have applied ad blockers to actively stop them from working, in a bid to demonstrate to users how they’re prioritising their privacy.

Google plans on replacing third-party cookies with the Privacy Sandbox, its aim is to “create a thriving web ecosystem that is respectful of users and private by default”. Google knows all too well that it needs to create a replacement that doesn’t damage the lucrative paid advertising industry.

This is the reason we’ve seen a delay in the phase out of third-party cookies, Google simply hasn’t created a strong enough solution. It’s currently testing Privacy Sandbox proposals such as FLoC (Federated Learning of Cohorts).

FLoC works by grouping users together with similar interests, which it calls a cohort. These groups would change every week to ensure privacy is maintained. Google has been quick to confirm that the data is all gathered on the browser and is not kept on servers or sent to anyone else.

Google has claimed the FLoC solution is 95% effective, however, given the recent push back to late 2022, it looks like it’s definitely not set on this approach yet.

As advertisers, we’re now in a position where we’re having to be more reactive than proactive, we have to prepare ourselves for what’s to come.

Albeit the finer details haven’t been confirmed, we believe performance will become less measurable and will need to be looked at holistically, taking all channels into account. If FloC is released successfully, there will be an element of trust in Google’s categorisation.

Here are our three key recommendations to prepare for the abolishment of cookies:

1. Monitoring developments: Currently, we have time on our hands, however, in the digital world, time moves quickly. It’s imperative that we keep a close eye on developments from Google so that we can quickly react to any amendments needed.

2. First party data is King: During this time, we need to gather as much first-party data as possible. Harnessing first party data within Google Ads will provide us with a customer qualification audience, knowing these users have a given interest in your brand. Allowing us to work CPCs harder towards this audience segment and driving customers back to site. With the uncertainties of the Privacy Sandbox approach, we can’t fully rely on what is to come. First-party data is now more important than ever. Get building those email lists!

3. Brand awareness investment: The final point isn’t necessarily something that should only be done since cookies are leaving us. Brand awareness is an on-going necessity that every business should be engaging in. If tracking user behaviour is going to be more challenging, clients must build that brand recognition across their key demographics to help drive users to the site across all channels.

Ultimately, we’re still very much in the dark over what Google is going to release in 2022 or whether there will be a further delay. As stated, we’ll be closely monitoring developments and preparing accordingly. Google are forcing us to be reactive, instead, let’s be proactively, reactive.

If you want to know what this might mean for your PPC activity, contact us today!

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