Adland is counting down to the end of third-party cookies by 2022, which has major implications for marketers.
Some of the digital ad industry is working on alternative techniques to track people. A few of these techniques could be even more invasive than cookies, like tying people to email addresses (permanent) instead of advertising IDs (temporary).
As Gartner analyst Andrew Frank put it, “So far, a solution that serves consumer privacy interests as well as the economic interests of publishers and brands has been elusive.”
Last month, David Temkin at Google clarified that not only is Google removing third-party cookies from the Chrome browser, they aren’t replacing cookies with a substitute technology to track individuals, and instead would lump people into interest-based cohorts.
In the announcement, David cited a study by Pew Research Center that “72% of people feel that almost all of what they do online is being tracked by advertisers, technology firms or other companies, and 81% say that the potential risks they face because of data collection outweigh the benefits.” He described Google’s shift as the start of a “course toward a more privacy-first web.”
Gilad Edelman at Wired critiqued Google’s move as “privacy theater”. As he put it:
“This doesn’t mean any steps Google takes to restrict third-party tracking are inherently suspect. What’s dangerous is treating the end of third-party cookies as privacy itself, rather than an incremental shift that comes with its own set of trade-offs … Letting only Google know my secrets might be better than exposing myself to the whole ad tech industry, but not by a whole lot.”
As global regulators increasingly take aim at microtargeting, this is a good time for marketers to reflect on the larger implications of a “privacy-first web.” The end of third-party cookies is not the end of the privacy debate.
Here are a few related cartoons I’ve drawn over the years: