Are Cookies Dead? What You Need to Know
The internet made advertising cheaper and more effective. Much of the effectiveness came from the ability to target more and more specific groups of potential clients until you got down to your ideal client. Much of this magic relies on a technology called cookies.
Due to privacy concerns advertisers and law firms that rely on this technology are being put on a diet – no more cookies for you!
Cookies can be used to deliver relevant ads or to retarget (show your ad again and again) to someone who has already seen it. Other useful features include: storing data and retaining previously entered information, saving user preferences, protecting the user’s account by communicating the account details and login status to account-protected servers.
However, they are also used to record user’s activity on the site and to other sites across the internet. Those are the cookies that will no longer exist from 2023 on Google Chrome and are already being phased out in other browsers.
Flavors of cookies
These are gathered on the site and aren’t used for other purposes than to make your experience there better. It’s important to notice that those will keep being supported by browsers.
A common example of cookies that are used to increase user experience are social media platforms, you almost never have to login again after your first login. Another example is baking websites, you don’t need to keep logging in every time you access the site.
These are the cookies most commonly used for digital advertising. They can “travel” across the web following the user. Different sources include google and Facebook, but just as often may come from companies you may not be as familiar with.
Companies can buy them to have access to a targeted audience with the hope that the audience would generate a great return on investment quickly.
For instance, if you’re a law firm with different practice areas you can advertise on pages where people looking for attorneys from each area would be. There’s no reason to offer a service to someone in need of a personal injury attorney if they are looking for an immigration attorney.
Cookies help you to offer the immigration service to the person who’s looking for it at the time they are looking.
These are responsible for making your experience better on the site, remembering your preferences such as language, how many search results you like to have on a results page. The ones used by Google and YouTube for this purpose expire after a period of 6 to 8 months, depending on the cookie and the platform.
Used to protect an account from spam, attacks, attempts to steal the content of forms submitted in Google Forms.
They do this by authenticating users and ensuring that only the owner of the account has access to it. They do also prevent malicious websites from acting as the user without their knowledge.
These cookies help the sites use the data collected to understand how users interact with a page. This data is important because it allows for improving the user experience and building better features.
These cookies are used to show relevant recommendations based on your online behavior. That new car you were shopping for last week that keeps popping up? That’s no accident. That dealer got you with a cookie!
The Death of Cookies Wasn’t All of a Sudden
Cookies policy has been changed by browsers for a few years now. At the moment Safari and Firefox already blocked tracking by cookies and Google has announced this July that by 2023 all third-party cookies will be blocked.
Google has also announced that they’re not building anything to replace third-party cookies or use them in their products. In Google’s words, they can “sustain a healthy, ad-supported web in a way that will render third-party cookies obsolete”.
Lately, more and more people are concerned for their privacy and consent about what’s done with their data. Browser devs have been ending support for these cookies and the advertising industry felt the movement pressure and decided to go along with it.
Google isn’t the First Browser to Change the Cookies Policy
Apple has blocked third-party cookies since 2017, using machine learning to identify and block these cookies, limiting the window of tracking to 24 hours.
However, it’s important to notice that being the pioneer for this was used as a strategy to be seen as the more privacy-friendly option and it was possible to make a quick change because Apple doesn’t profit from ads, unlike Google.
There are some parts of the industry that don’t agree with the changes and that are afraid of how advertising will be in this cookieless future. The good news is that there are already some alternatives arising.
Users are demanding more privacy and control over their data and companies need to respond to that.
Google stated that they’re no longer supporting third-party cookies but that they’ll support even more first-party cookies and tools to build the relationship between the company that owns the site and the user. This means that it’s the beginning of the era of balance over pure advertising.
Google also doesn’t believe that any solution based on gathering user’s data will be a long-term answer to the end of cookies. They believe that users are more and more conscious about the importance of their data and that the new solutions won’t stand up to the regulatory restrictions that are arising worldwide.
If advertisers don’t adapt they’ll have awesome ads in front of people who won’t buy from them. Back to the cave times when it was hard to be in front of your target audience and a big part of ad spent had no return.
One of the options is to advertise using contextual advertising. In this type of advertising the ad compliments the content on the page. If someone is reading blog posts about recipes, they are more likely to buy some kitchen accessories. This has been used for some blogs already and works well.
Companies can also choose to implement people-based advertising. When cookies are used, they’re tailored to a device, people-based advertising creates an ID for the person and the ID goes with them wherever they go on the internet. The downside of this is that the company needs to have enough login information to make it work.
Even though it may seem that there isn’t an easy way to pivot into this cookieless word, what we need to know is that people are looking for a combination of personalization and privacy. Changes have to be made before it’s too late but we can still think about new ways to advertise in this new reality.
Since advertising represents 80% of Google’s revenue, they are looking for a sweet spot for the transition and data management in a cookieless world. Most of their solutions are still being tested, but we have an idea of what’s about to come.
Federated Learning of Cohorts (FLoC) is a new technology proposed by Google, a sweet spot between third-party cookies and no cookies at all.
Their idea is to cluster people who have similar interests in a group, this way no one’s personal data gets exposed and the ads can be placed in front of people who are likely to be interested.
These changes will dramatically affect the way digital marketing is done, but the trend is that people become more conscious about their data so we need to think of new ways to reach them.
Building a relationship with your audience segment is still the best way to keep your practice growing. Information such as email addresses, and phone numbers are worth gold in this relationship-based era. The cookie is dead, long live the cookie!.