Another Google Cookie Delay May Impact Web Browsing

Third-party cookies are like invisible digital detectives, quietly tracking your online browsing habits

Another Google Cookie Delay May Impact Web Browsing
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Internet cookies have become an integral part of monitoring our online activities. However, ongoing worries about privacy have led to the demand for the elimination of these third-party cookies. Google has been promising the phase-out for years now, recently announcing another extension. In this week’s newsletter, we will talk about what these cookies are, what is going on with the latest Google extension, and what this could mean for users and advertisers.

What are “Internet Cookies?”

For those unfamiliar with cookies, let’s shed some light. Third-party cookies are like invisible digital detectives, quietly tracking your online browsing habits. They can be used to track information such as search history, browser type, language preferences, IP address, pages visited, past purchases, ads interacted with, name, email address, geographic location, and more. Companies then use this information to personalize their email marketing. But now, with third-party cookies on their way out due to concerns about web privacy, this development is throwing off email marketing and personalization for many companies.

How do they work?

When you visit a website, it can store “cookies” on your browser. If these cookies come from the website’s domain, they are called “first-party cookies.” However, those coming from a different domain are what are referred to as “third-party cookies.” These cookies collect information about your online behavior, such as the pages you visit and the products you view. This data is valuable for companies that want to target their advertising more effectively.

These cookies can be used to remember your preferences across multiple sites, collect analytics, count ad impressions, and more. If you look at a product on one site, there is a possibility that third-party cookies might be used to show you ads for that product on another site. This is what has become a concern to many people. Third-party cookies can track your activity across the web. This is why you may often see cookie consent notices asking you to accept or decline the use of cookies when opening web pages.

What's going on with Google's latest cookie extension?

Removing third-party cookies has been a promise Google has made since 2020. For the third time now, Google has announced yet another delay in ending its third-party cookies in the Chrome browser. Many theorize the newest delay has come because the U.K.’s Competitions and Markets Authority (CMA), which has been regulating the plan, has addressed some concerns about the plan. The current delay has pushed the phase-out to 2025. However, the delays are expected to continue until Google knows it can maintain profitability and appease the regulators.

Why are users concerned about third-party cookies?

Users are worried about Google’s third-party cookies for a few reasons. Some see Google's actions as harmful to the open internet. They believe Google is making it harder for advertisers to work outside its own platforms, like search and YouTube, which could give Google an unfair advantage. Others think Google's alternative –  Privacy Sandbox – might not be as good as they are leading some to believe. While Google is promoting it heavily, some marketers still need to be convinced it's the best option. Ad tech companies also are not thrilled about the Privacy Sandbox, fearing it could give Google even more control over online advertising.

Another concern is that if third-party cookies are already bad for privacy, their replacements may not be that much better. Some people question why paid alternatives are seen as better, even if they do similar things. There is also a theory that Google is using the Privacy Sandbox to slow down Amazon's advertising business. While it is not certain, some believe Google could use this to compete with Amazon and make it harder for them to grow.

What will happen during the phase-out?

Google's move to gradually eliminate cookies will fundamentally reshape the advertising landscape online. Most of the impact will fall back on the advertisers. It is not expected to mean all that much for the vast majority of everyday users. While many hope for more privacy to come from these changes, third-party advertisers will still have other ways of collecting data. If the switch away from cookies works as intended, Chrome users can continue browsing the web in much the same way as they did before with mostly just an underlying layer of stronger privacy.

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