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What the End of Cookies Could Mean for Advertising and Digital Marketing

It’s hard to imagine a world without cookies (the Internet kind, not chocolate chip), but if all goes according to Google’s plan, we may see a more private Internet in as shortly as two years.

According to a recent blog post published to Google’s Chromium Blog, Google has started working towards its goal of making the web a more private and secure place for users, while also still supporting publishers.

“Users are demanding greater privacy–including transparency, choice and control over how their data is used–and it’s clear the web ecosystem needs to evolve to meet these increasing demands,” said Google.

This shouldn’t come as too much of a surprise, since back in August, Google had announced its new Privacy Sandbox initiative and a goal of developing a set of open standards to enhance privacy on the web.

Now, it appears as Google is making good on its word, by announcing its intention to phase out support for third-party cookies in Chrome within just two years. In other words, cookies will be gone for good.

via GIPHY

“After initial dialogue with the web community, we are confident that with continued iteration and feedback, privacy-preserving and open-standard mechanisms like the Privacy Sandbox can sustain a healthy, ad-supported web in a way that will render third-party cookies obsolete,” said Google. “Once these approaches have addressed the needs of users, publishers, and advertisers, and we have developed the tools to mitigate workarounds, we plan to phase out support for third-party cookies in Chrome.”

This success of this initiative will be dependent on how the development, testing and verification process will play out over the next two years.

“We are working actively across the ecosystem so that browsers, publishers, developers, and advertisers have the opportunity to experiment with these new mechanisms, test whether they work well in various situations, and develop supporting implementations, including ad selection and measurement, denial of service (DoS) prevention, anti-spam/fraud, and federated authentication,” said Google.

How This Will Affect the Digital Marketing World

In simple terms, cookies are a tool used within browsers that allow websites to capture and save user data.

For nearly three decades, cookies have driven digital advertising, making them an invaluable tool for advertisers and digital marketers.

via GIPHY

And while Safari and Firefox browsers have already made the move to block third-party cookies, Google Chrome’s decision to follow suit represents a major industry shift, as the browser makes up 70% of all desktop Internet usage and 41% of mobile.

With so much uncertainty over the ripple effect Google’s decision will have, it’s only natural to feel nervous about the inevitable death of cookies. But that’s not to say that a world without cookies is the end of digital marketing as we know it.

For starters, the changes will only affect desktop, so you can breathe a sigh of relief about that. And, Google has also proposed changes that would allow tracking to continue without advertisers being able to access users’ personal information.

And if you think about it, the lack of third-party cookies for desktop can actually be beneficial, as it would require you to take a more identity-centric approach. This approach can be highly effective, as it requires you to focus more on the customer’s overall journey, giving you more insight and control.

So, while getting rid of cookies will inevitably have an impact on advertising and digital marketing, the future may not be so bleak after all.