Do you know that uncomfortable feeling you get when you are being followed? Especially when you are browsing on the internet?
Or you are playing your favourite online game and so many advertisements keep popping up.
Wherever you browse online, you keep seeing the same advertisements, similar items you thought of purchasing or similar pop-up items.
They are surely a boon for advertising companies, but what about customers?
Brands have been using third-party cookies for years to improve customer experience, track online behavior, collect data and help target the right ads to the target audience.
What are third-party cookies?
Third-party cookies are created by a website other than the one you are visiting. They are used for online-advertising purposes and placed on a website using tags or scripts. These cookies are accessible on any website that loads the third-party server’s code. They are mostly used to track users between websites and personalize advertisements for consumers.
Let’s say you looked up some vacation rentals in the Maldives. You browsed a couple of websites, admired a few pictures of beaches and sunsets, but ultimately decided to plan your vacation later that year. After a few days, you are seeing ads of a vacation in the Maldives on many websites you visit. Is this a coincidence? No. The web browser stored a third-party cookie and is using this information to send you targeted advertisements.
What led to the removal of third-party cookies?
Third-party cookies potentially concern website visitors who want to safeguard their privacy. Cookies are not inherently good or evil. Their ethical nature depends on how each website deploys, tracks, and uses them. However, many website users demand greater security, transparency, choice, and control over how their data is used.
Google believed that the ecosystem needed to evolve to meet consumer demands. This led to major decisions and announcements made by the company. At the start of 2020, Google announced the removal of third-party cookies from Chrome by 2023.
The main reason for the removal of third-party cookies from major browsers such as Safari, Chrome, and Firefox arises from privacy concerns for consumers. Third-party cookies track and profile individual users, and their death is because of aggressive tactics used by marketers.
Removal of third-party cookies is a wake-up call for advertising companies to create more authentic advertisements. Personalized advertisements that keep the user’s privacy intact, are what ad agencies should aim for.
Reaction to Third-party Cookies Phase-out
Numerous advertising agencies criticized Google’s move to completely phase-out third-party cookies. Research suggests that 41% of marketers believe their biggest challenge will be their inability to track data.
A surge in expenditure is also predicted by advertisers. It is predicted that marketers will have to increase their spending from 5% to 25% to meet the same goals. Marketers have already started investing in email marketing software due to this new policy.
Industries are pushing for newer solutions and alternatives that will help replace the data. On the bright side, there are already existing strategies that can be leveraged for accurate targeting.
Time for marketing companies to explore alternatives available once third-party cookies are gone. Companies like Google are also doing their best to find newer ways to continue tracking customer behavior and retain user data.
Methods such as fingerprinting, cache inspection, and navigation tracking are certainly to be considered. Mentioned below are a few methods adopted by affiliates to prepare for the future.
Server to Server Tracking
Server to server tracking is a way to send data directly to secure servers without relying on a user’s browser. Instead of sending tracking requests on your user’s browser, it is possible to send requests on your back-end server, without user intervention.
When an individual clicks on an affiliate link, a unique identifier code is created and stored. If the same user returns and converts, it becomes easy to attribute the user to the corresponding affiliate.
Reply on First-Party Cookies
Leveraging data from first-party cookies is another reliable alternative. By adding a pixel to a website, affiliates can track customer behavior and interaction on their affiliate site.
Affiliates need to make sure their data is synchronized in the background with their respective affiliate programs. This way, affiliates will be able to monitor users in the same manner.
Google’s Action Plan
Google understands the importance of third-party cookies since the nineties. They are a critical component of online advertising. It will not abruptly remove third-party cookies but the company is determined to come up with its own alternatives shortly.
Google aims to utilize APIs, known as Application Programming Interfaces, technologies that allow companies to collect data without breaching any data protection rule or regulation.
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