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Google is set to stop the use of third-party cookies in their hugely popular browser, Chrome. As many advertisers will know, this has huge ramifications, and many are wondering what the future of digital marketing will look like.

The removal of third-party cookies will make it harder for advertisers to track the web activity of potential consumers, which will have a considerable impact on things like remarketing.

Third-party cookies have helped advertisers target ads depending on the data they collect: this could range from age and gender to historic behaviour on websites and search history.

This move from Google is to appease the concerns of their audience: consumers - who have grown more aware of the capture and use of their personal data - increasingly perceive third-party cookies as a form of privacy-invading technology.

When is Google scrapping third-party cookies on Chrome?

Google is currently set to phase out third-party cookies in Chrome by 2024. This comes after a few delays, primarily because Google wanted marketers to have more time to adjust their advertising approach and test out new, less intrusive targeted advertising technologies.

What’s the alternative to third-party cookies?

With no third-party cookies to rely on, advertisers will have to look to first-party cookies for targeting information. These types of cookies are stored on domains and can be used for things like on-site search optimisation and recommendation systems.

As an alternative to reliance on third-party cookies, Google has been building the Privacy Sandbox, which is planned to be a less intrusive solution to targeted advertising. The Sandbox is a collection of technologies that aim to protect people’s privacy online, while still providing businesses with tools to advertise successfully.

As part of the Privacy Sandbox, Google has introduced the new Topics API. This is a new proposal for cookie tracking. The algorithm works within a user’s browser and classifies them within a set of high-level interest groups, such as fashion, food, or travel. This broad grouping can then be used for targeting.

Who will be the most affected by the cookie changes?

The shift towards relying on first-party cookies will heavily favour large companies that have the most access to first-party data. These companies will have the resources to develop the most effective algorithms for maximising profits with just first-party data.

Smaller companies that lack first-party data will struggle to target and remarket to shoppers, making it harder to advertise. Small businesses will still be able to make use of technology such as Google Topics to segment users into interest groups and leverage data that way.

Will this change give Google more power and control over retailers?

With no third-party cookies from Chrome to use in advertising efforts, retailers may turn to Google services such as Smart Shopping or Performance Max to gain visibility on Google Shopping and improve their profits. These are both ‘black box’ advertising algorithms that advertise on a retailer's behalf.

Everything you need to know about Google's Performance Max

The problem with relying on these services is that it gives a lot of control to one company: Google decides which retailers can enter the auction for the advertising space, the bid price, and who wins the auction. 

It also puts a lot of reliance on algorithms that give limited data feedback, such as search term data, so there’s a lack of accountability. It also means that retailers have less data available to use in advertising optimisation efforts on other channels.

What can companies do to prepare for the change?

Utilising first-party cookies will be the best method of reacting to Google’s changes. This data can be analysed to help you create targeted ads across Google, Facebook, and YouTube.

A commonly used tactic for companies to increase the amount of first-party data they have is through the use of newsletters which collects data. Creating high-quality content for users to interact with can also provide you with more data.

As mentioned above, making the most out of Google’s Topics API will be a great way to target groups of users who have exhibited a similar interest.

Promoting user accounts for services can also help you gather user-specific data for you to use in your targeting efforts.

Prioritising and investing in other digital marketing strategies will become more important than ever. To explore different aspects of digital marketing, take a look at our guide.

One of the best things you can do is to take control of your data and leverage it to help your advertising efforts. Bidnamic’s technology platform is completely transparent, unlike Google’s Smart Shopping and Performance Max campaigns, and our clients can use this valuable data to help drive performance throughout their business.

If you’re looking to make Google Shopping a profitable channel and boost your visibility, book a demo with one of our specialists today.

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Dr Oliver Wales

Dr Oliver Wales

Oliver has an extensive academic background with a PhD in Physics and has completed the extremely competitive Faculty Fellowship data scientist programme. Oliver has been with Bidnamic for three years. In that time, he has worked to build Bidnamic’s in-house data science function and bring Bidnamic to the forefront of technology in the Google Advertising space.