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Why has Google removed the third-party cookies targeting option?

March 1, 2022 - Fifteen

For many years, companies across the globe have used internet cookies to track traffic to websites, enhance user experiences, and collect key data that helps them target ads to the correct audiences. Cookies have also supplied valuable information for firms on what content visitors are interested in on their websites and which areas they seldom spend time on. Being able to see what type of content is engaging to their audience is vital for any business and cookies have proved useful for generating reports and providing insight.

However, recent notifications from Google are now set to dramatically alter how cookies and ad-tracking tools are being used. In 2020 an announcement from the company outlined its intentions to phase out third-party cookies by 2022 on Chrome Browsers, in line with its Privacy Sandbox initiative. In March this year, Google gave an update on this process, stating that they will not be building any alternative identifiers for tracking users as they browse the web, nor will they be using such trackers in their products.

In the same post, Google confirmed that it was aware that as a result of this decision, other providers may deliver a level of user identity for the purpose of ad tracking that it will not, so why has the company selected this course of action? Below we’ll take a closer look at why Google has removed the third-party cookies targeting option and why it believes it can still deliver the right results to publishers and advertisers on the web without this feature.

Providing an alternative to cookies with innovative solutions

Google believes that individuals should not need to accept that they will be tracked on the web, just so they can enjoy the benefits of being offered relevant advertising. The company also feels that advertisers do not need to track an individual consumer across the web in order to appreciate the performance benefits that digital advertising can bring.

According to Google, advances in anonymization, aggregation, and on-device processing among many other privacy-preserving solutions provide a way to eventually replace individual identifiers. Its latest tests of Federated Learning of Cohorts (FLoC) show a method of effectively removing third-party cookies from the advertising equation by hiding individuals among large crowds of web users who share the same interests. Google Chrome plans to make these cohorts readily available through origin trials for public testing in an upcoming release in April and expects to start testing FLoC-based cohorts with selected advertisers in its Google Ads in the second financial quarter of this year. April will also see Chrome offer the debut of brand-new user controls, which will then be expanded on in subsequent releases, as additional proposals become ready for the origin trial stage and receive feedback from the industry and end-users.

The aim of this initiative is to create a scenario where neither advertising nor monetisation needs to be sacrificed in order to provide a secure and private experience for users.

The importance of first-party relationships

For any brand to construct a successful business it must develop strong relationships with its clients and customers, and in Google’s view, this is even more crucial in our privacy-first world. To this end it has stated it will keep supporting first-party relationships on its Google ad platform for partners, allowing them to still maintain direct connections with their dedicated customers. It will also entrench its support for any solutions designed to build on these relationships between consumers and the publishers and brands they are engaging with.

A privacy-first policy

Users are now demanding greater levels of privacy than ever before, including control and choice of how their personal data is used, and web engines and interfaces must rise to meet these requirements.

To sum up, Google has phased out third-party cookies to ensure the internet remains accessible and open to all while protecting their privacy. The move to put an end to third-party cookies is only part of this process and any technology that is used to track individual people when they search the web is also blacklisted by the company. Its ongoing aim is to preserve an open and thriving web ecosystem where users can confidently access a wide selection of ad-supported content while feeling assured that their personal choices and privacy remain respected.

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