Monthly Archives : March 2021

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How Blocking Third-Party Cookies Affects Digital Ad Campaigns

The shift to tighter privacy has caused browsers to block third-party cookies. Safari and Firefox have blocked third-party cookies since 2013 and now Chrome, the browser with half of the global web traffic, has also chosen to phase out cookies in 2022 which raises concerns for online marketing. We have included a quick overview and recommend 2 articles linked below for more information on how the move to block third-party cookies will affect advertising on Google and Facebook publishing platforms.

Here is the first paragraph of the article which introduces the topic well:

Google announced that “third-party cookies are over — at least, as far as its ad networks and Chrome browser are concerned. This represents a significant change for the ad business and seems to be a step forward for privacy, but it’s also a limited one. It doesn’t mean that Google will stop collecting your data, and it doesn’t mean the company will stop using your data to target ads.”  – Source.

In a nutshell, third-party cookies improve targeting for online ad campaigns. A clear example is remarketing campaigns where a third-party cookie in your browser will trigger remarketing ads based on sites you have visited in the past. For this reason remarketing will be most affected by this change. Cookies are also used for advertising in the Google Display Network (GDN) where ads are displayed not only based on the context (the topic of the site it the ad is on) but on information from third-party cookies to determine what is relevant to a user.

Google uses cookies, but doesn’t need to. Google has enough first party data to continue providing similar services without using third-party cookies. Someone who wants to stay private and not be tracked will now more easily be able to avoid services that big advertising companies can get data from. So essentially you would not be able to target those users as accurately and not be able to do remarketing to those users who take steps to remain untracked. But you can still advertise using search ads which are keyword-based, contextual ads and Google and Facebook still have a wealth of first-party data to target ads on its publishing platforms. Note also that users can already opt out of Google ads personalization using Google’s ad settings.

“Google will still collect your first-party data — that is, what you do when you’re using its products, like YouTube and Search — and it will target ads to you based on it. That first-party data becomes even more valuable to advertisers as third-party data sources dry up. This is great for Google, whose platforms get billions of hits per day. In fact, the bulk of Google’s revenue comes from ads on Google Search — more than half of it, according to its most recent quarterly earnings report, and far more than it makes from its ad network that currently relies on third-party cookies. And because Google Search won’t be affected by the cookie ban, that data-based revenue stream will continue to flow.  – Source.

More reading on this topic:

The Death of the Third-Party Cookie: What Marketers Need to Know About Google’s Looming Privacy Pivots
Hubspot put together a good overview of what third-party cookies are and how online marketing will adapt once they are phased out.

Google is done with cookies, but that doesn’t mean it’s done tracking you
Focusses more on how Google will adapt to a third-party cookie ban