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How does googles cookie changes affect marketers & digital agencies? What are the third-party cookies changes?

Earlier this year Google announced it was launching new tools and features to allow its users to have greater control over third-party cookies. The announcement came with the promise of allowing users to disable third party cookies (usually used for cross site tracking) whilst retaining first party cookies (used for storing login details and site settings). Developers must now specifically state which cookies work across sites and can therefore be used for tracking.

The changes stems from google believing user privacy should not have to be a luxury and everyone should have access to how they’re tracked online. By releasing these features, it grants users a new level of control previously unavailable.

Microsoft also announced its Chromium based browser Edge would be releasing similar features, whilst Apples latest version of ITP 2.2 will limit cross site cookie tracking of users to one day only.

Along with these changes Google will also be releasing an open source browser extension which will allow users to see greater detail about an ad. For example, the names of companies which acted as intermediaries between the advertiser and publisher and the companies with ad trackers present with the ad. Whilst also providing greater information about the factors used to target that ad to the user.

How these changes affect digital marketing?

The way these changes affect marketers won’t be fully realised for quite some time however as it stands these changes will have a significant impact on remarketing, analytics and attribution efforts.

What we do know is that marketers who are thinking they can bypass these changes by using browser fingerprinting will have to think again as Google prepared for this also. Knowing that these changes would drive marketers too look for alternatives they also announced a crackdown on browser fingerprinting.

Google will now be reducing the ways browsers can be passively fingerprinted whilst also aggressively restricting browser fingerprinting as a whole. Fingerprinting goes against Googles privacy policies as it isn’t transparent nor under any control from the user; removing any choice they have over how they’re tracked online.

So, whilst marketers may feel these changes are step back in regard to the level of targeting, they’ve previously been able to set. These changes aren’t all doom and gloom for advertisers, third-party cookies will not be blocked by default and will require users to actively take action to control their cookies. Many have speculated that the number of users who will even be aware these changes have occurred let alone take action to utilise them will be minimal.

Alongside this Google has been largely spared from these changes as google doesn’t utilise cookies to track users across their services, devices and apps. With google handling around 90% of all internet searches with 3 billion users. These changes may just further their hold of the market, encouraging marketers to adjust their spends with other advertisers and to hand over this budget to Google for advertising.

Our recommendation for digital marketers

First of all: stay calm. As many marketers will already be aware if they’ve ever used cookies for cross site tracking, it’s not a straightforward procedure nor is it a perfect system. It can often be the cause a bad user experience with ads being shown to users who’ve already purchased a product from another website.

And with the possibility for users to delete cookies it will make consent preferences a user makes temporary which could lead to websites repeatedly asking users for their consent preferences every time they visit a website which in turn leads to bad user experience.

If you’re currently utilising Google for all of your online advertising the likelihood is you won’t notice much of a difference to what you’re currently doing and for those utilising other platforms for your online marketing it’s best to keep an open eye how these will affect your current and future campaign plans. With these features not being set by default and requiring user action to what extent they will be used is yet to be determined but if they do get used heavily the affects may be more drastic than currently anticipated. If these features fly under the radar of most users, then the ripple affect of these changes may not be felt by most marketers.

Get in touch and find out how we can help you to prepare for the coming changes…

Pawel Lorenc

Head of SEM Pawel is a highly-motivated and enthusiastic digital marketer. He's also a dad to three lovely children (his most important job of all).