What to Expect from a Third-Party Cookieless World

Accept All Cookies. We’ve all come across that tasty-sounding button while visiting websites. It’s one that you either click on mindlessly or immediately select the available deny option. Lately, there’s been more and more buzz around a cookieless future. Google announced its intention to go third-party cookieless by 2024, which has those who use tools like Google Analytics questioning how a cookieless future will affect the way we work. 

woman looking at computer

But before we explore the ramifications of cookieless future, let’s cover exactly what cookies are and how they work. 

Cookies are little bits of text that websites will store on your computer. When you click that Accept All Cookies button, that website will save a bit of text to your browser for the website to find the next time you visit it. It’s this piece of text that allows the website to pull your username and password to log you in automatically.  

The cookies you receive from different websites are unique identifiers. They let the website know who you are and allow you to experience the complete site. Your cookie lets the site know you can view the images or interact with different features, and your cookie allows the website to track your movement throughout the web domain.  

First-party and Third-party Cookies 

To understand exactly what cookieless means, it’s important to understand the difference between first-party and third-party cookies. First-party cookies are the ones that allow you to be tracked by a domain while using a site. For example, if you go to the Adage website, we can track you because you are using our website.  

Third-party cookies are from other websites that are also pulled onto the website you’re visiting. Common third-party cookies include ones from Facebook or Instagram. It’s the third-party cookies that allow advertisers to track users across different websites.  

I’m sure you’ve had the experience where you go to a store, look at a product online, decide not to buy it, then go to Facebook or Instagram and immediately see an ad for the exact product you were looking at seconds ago. Third-party cookies make this type of advertising possible.  

When you visited the store’s website, they had Facebook linked on their web pages, which allows Facebook to receive your info from the Facebook cookie already stored on your computer. Facebook now knows that you visited this product page, and the store can use that data for retargeting you for that product. 

What Going Third-party Cookieless Means 

By going third-party cookieless browsers are removing the ability for third parties to track your movements across websites. This means that when you visit a store’s website, and they have Facebook on their web pages, Facebook is unable to share your information. And the store is unable to retarget you for that exact product the next time you visit Facebook. 

Going third-party cookieless will also affect the way that Google Analytics and Google Ads are used. Currently, Google Analytics is considered a third party when you visit sites. Google Analytics will still be able to track you, but they can’t share that info. This means marketers won’t be able to follow your trail. 

A Different Way of Targeting 

To offer marketers a way to reach their audiences while protecting individuals’ privacy, Google offers options to market to groups through FLoC. FLoC places individuals in different interest-based groups, or cohorts, based on their internet activity.  

Through this system, users are given privacy while advertisers can market to the groups that best fit their product target groups. Advertisers will need to adjust to targeting at a group over an individual level.  

Cookies will never go away completely. First-party cookies are integral to using the internet and having a seamless web experience. But going third-party cookieless is a way to afford individuals internet privacy and address the potential ethical concerns of third-party cookie usage.  

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