Google plans to discontinue third-party cookies in 2024. Does this signal the end of targeted advertising? Research indicates that publishers may face a funding loss of up to 52 percent without third-party cookies. In this piece, discover the crucial role cookies play and what will step in to fulfill their function in the coming era, enabling marketers and advertisers to sustain effective pay-per-click (PPC) campaigns.
But first, what exactly is a third-party cookie?
Decoding Third-Party Cookies
An HTTP cookie, a tiny piece of data, is crafted by a web server and deposited onto a user’s computer or device during website navigation. Under specific circumstances, a user’s web browser may also plant a cookie on a different device. Conversely, a third-party cookie pertains to a cookie established by a website distinct from the one currently being accessed by the user.
A prime example of a third-party cookie involves a Facebook Like button on a webpage. Those who visit the site will have Facebook generate and store a cookie on their device. Subsequently, Facebook can employ this cookie to recognize visitors and track their interactions with other websites.
Another instance is when Google Ads generates cookies to monitor user activities. This implies that individuals on a website displaying Google Ads effectively store third-party cookies. Consequently, even if they visit other sites, Google can present ads tied to their search history.
Why Are Cookies Vital in Digital Advertising and PPC Campaign Management?
More often than not, entities that create cookies utilize them for digital advertising and marketing endeavors, which is why they are also known as targeting or advertising cookies. Typically, third-party cookies are “persistent,” meaning they trail users to different websites, collecting data that can be leveraged to display pertinent topics, information, or advertising.
These persistent cookies are a reason why a user with an advertising cookie may not encounter ads on one site, but relevant ones may surface on other platforms.
Given that cookies serve to gather user data, debates surrounding online privacy and security, particularly user data privacy, are prevalent. Consequently, responsible advertisers will only implement third-party cookies on websites with the consent of their operators.
In the advertising sphere, it is customary to exchange data acquired through cookies. Generally, an online advertising agency and Google Ads specialist utilize this data to construct user profiles and assess the effectiveness of their advertisements across various websites.
A key promise a Google advertising agency or PPC ads agency makes to clients is delivering results. This necessitates the development of robust advertising campaigns and the measurement of their efficacy, all made possible by the data cookies gather from users.
For any PPC management team and Google Ads specialist, the prospect of abstaining from third-party advertising cookies is a cause for concern. Thus, when Google announced it was discontinuing Chrome’s support for these cookies, apprehensions arose that Google Ads targeting might become more complex. Monitoring PPC performance and optimizing PPC campaigns could become challenging for a PPC ads agency.
The absence of third-party cookies for advertisers who rely on them signifies a loss of insight into user behaviors. Consequently, maintaining consistently relevant ads becomes a challenge, leading to diminished click-through rates.
Thankfully, Google chose to postpone the deprecation of third-party cookies to 2023, with intentions to phase them out in 2024. For the time being, this grants a Google Ads agency additional time to strategize and innovate, ensuring the continued delivery of top-tier PPC management and digital advertising services.
Why Is Google Transitioning Away from Cookies?
Google places a premium on user data privacy. However, advertisers’ data practices no longer align with users’ expectations regarding online privacy and security. Thus, they opted to phase out third-party cookies and introduce an alternative initiative.
For years, data brokers, publishers, and advertisers relied on cookies to track users’ online activities. However, this practice, many argue, infringes upon user data privacy. Additionally, there exists a slim possibility that cookies could be exploited by hackers to gain access to browsing sessions.
As a countermeasure, users can choose to disable cookies in their browsers or employ ad blockers to limit or prevent ad displays. This shift, however, gave rise to a different advertising attribution technique called fingerprinting.
In analytics, fingerprinting is a method used to distinguish unique visitors, empowering advertisers to track users across the internet and develop user profiles for targeted advertising. Unlike cookies, users cannot erase their fingerprints, leaving them with little control over their online privacy and security.
The Remedy: Google Privacy Sandbox Initiative
Advertising represents Google’s primary revenue stream. Hence, when they decided to phase out third-party cookies, they concurrently devised plans to replace them with the Google Privacy Sandbox.
The Privacy Sandbox constitutes Google’s endeavor to establish new web standards that safeguard users’ privacy, while equipping search engine optimization (SEO) experts, developers, advertisers, or a Google Ads agency with the tools required to cultivate their digital advertising ventures.
Pioneering New Technologies to Safeguard User Data Privacy
Google Privacy Sandbox chiefly aims to grant advertisers and others access to essential metrics for PPC campaign management. An early initiative introduced an experimental tracking feature, Federated Learning of Cohorts (FLoC), which facilitates interest-based advertising by creating user profiles or “cohorts” without divulging user identities.
More recently, Topics, an initiative designed to preserve privacy while enabling publishers to display pertinent ads, has supplanted FLoC. Essentially, it functions by having the browser assist in delivering relevant ads based on interest-based categories inferred from recent browsing activity.
For users, this translates to an opportunity to browse the web or use apps without fretting over their personal information being harvested by unfamiliar publishers. Furthermore, in terms of security, the Google Privacy Sandbox raises the bar, making it more challenging for malicious entities to abscond with user information.
Sustaining Free Online Content
Setting up and maintaining a website entails costs, and the larger the site, the more substantial the expenses. Likewise, generating and disseminating content involves financial investment. However, a significant portion of these resources is provided for public consumption, largely thanks to advertising.
Digital advertising, however, functions seamlessly today due to tracking features, including the use of third-party cookies. Nevertheless, these features are intrusive and prompt concerns over user data privacy and online security. In this context, the Google Privacy Sandbox serves as a privacy-conscious alternative, quelling these apprehensions.
In the future, when third-party cookies are phased out, users can continue to browse and consume content or utilize apps without incurring charges.
Collaborating on Forging New Internet Privacy Standards
By choosing to phase out third-party cookies, Google joins the ranks of privacy-first browsers like Apple Safari, Microsoft Edge, Mozilla Firefox, and others that have implemented measures to prevent, reduce, or govern user tracking.
Looking ahead, collaboration with developers, publishers, data brokers, marketers, and advertisers can yield fresh standards and technologies that enhance online privacy and security. Moreover, this cooperation grants a Google advertising agency access to the information needed to fine-tune PPC campaigns and optimize PPC performance.
The Transition Away from Third-Party Cookies Won’t Hamper Online Advertising Agencies
Efficient Google Ads targeting and precise tracking of PPC performance are indispensable. Any disruption to this process could translate to substantial losses for the industry. Hence, Google has laid the foundation for the new Privacy Sandbox initiative to replace tracking and fingerprinting techniques, ensuring maximum efficiency in PPC campaign management.
Currently, trials and experiments within the Google Privacy Sandbox are underway. Although Google postponed the phase-out of third-party cookies, the initial response and outcomes have been positive.
For further inquiries about how PPC management and Google Ads targeting might impact your business, reach out to us today. Our specialists are available to discuss how we optimize PPC campaigns to generate qualified leads for your business today, and how we’re preparing for the new standards and advertising technologies to ensure seamless operations in the future.