Understanding the Importance of Third-Party Cookies Going Away
by Organic Team on Jan 16, 2024 2:50:00 PM
Let's explore the significance of third-party cookies, and their impact on media publishers with millions of monthly pageviews.So, AI, this is a third-party cookie, huh?
What are third-party cookies and why are they going away?
Third-party cookies are small text files that are created by websites that you visit and are stored on your computer or device. They are used to track your online activity and gather information about your browsing habits. These cookies are called 'third-party' because they are created by websites other than the one you are currently visiting. The dark side of third party cookies boils down to how companies such as Meta took advantage of consumers using blurred lines around user privacy. For example:
- Shadow Profiles: Meta has been accused of building detailed profiles of non-Facebook users by tracking their online activity through embedded Facebook pixels on other websites, even if they don't have a Facebook account. This allows them to target them with ads without their knowledge or consent.
- Misleading Users: Meta has been found to use deceptive tactics to encourage users to enable cookies and share more data. For example, they may present cookie consent options in a confusing way or highlight the benefits of personalized ads while downplaying the privacy risks.
- Exploiting Loopholes: Meta has been accused of exploiting technical loopholes and industry standards to bypass cookie restrictions. For instance, they may use the "Criteo Graph" to match hashed email addresses across different platforms, allowing them to track users even if they opt out of cookies.
- Ignoring Regulations: Meta has faced legal challenges and fines for violating privacy regulations related to cookie use. For example, in 2019, the Irish Data Protection Commission fined Facebook €5 billion for its handling of user data, including the use of shadow profiles.
These are just some of the accusations against Meta regarding its use of third-party cookies. It's important to note that the company has denied some of these allegations and has taken steps to improve its data privacy practices in recent years. However, the controversy surrounding its cookie use highlights the importance of strong data protection regulations and user awareness of how their data is being collected and used. Additional resources:
- A 2019 investigation by The Wall Street Journal on Facebook's shadow profiles: https://www.wsj.com/articles/how-many-users-does-facebook-have-the-company-struggles-to-figure-it-out-11634846701
- A 2023 article by The New York Times on Meta's continued use of third-party data: https://www.axios.com/2020/05/19/new-york-times-advertising
Third-party cookies have been an integral part of digital advertising and tracking for many years — they allow advertisers and marketers to target specific audiences and deliver personalized ads based on users' browsing history. However, there are growing concerns about privacy and data security associated with third-party cookies, which has led to their now gradual phasing out throughout the 2020's.
The main reason why third-party cookies are going away is the increasing focus on user privacy and data protection, across the Internet. Third-party cookies are often used to collect and track users' personal information without their consent, leading to privacy breaches and potential misuse of data. As a result, many web browsers and technology companies are taking large steps to limit or block third-party cookies, ultimately leading to their decline.
The role of third-party cookies in digital tracking, past vs. future
In the past, third-party cookies played a crucial role in digital tracking. Advertisers and marketers relied on these cookies to gather information about users' online behavior and target them with relevant ads. Third-party cookies allowed advertisers to track users across different websites and platforms, creating a comprehensive profile of their interests and preferences.
However, the landscape of digital tracking is rapidly changing. With the decline of third-party cookies, advertisers and marketers are exploring alternative solutions to track and target users effectively. One of the emerging trends is the use of first-party data, which is collected directly from users through their interactions with a specific website or platform. First-party data is considered more reliable and transparent, as it is based on users' explicit consent and provides a clearer understanding of their preferences.
While the future of digital tracking without third-party cookies may present certain challenges, it also opens up new opportunities for media publishers to build stronger relationships with their audiences and deliver more personalized experiences.
I think AI shines here — you can easily find the Epislion report for example.
Benefits of third-party cookies going away for media publishers
The decline of third-party cookies actually benefits media publishers in several ways. Firstly, it encourages the use of first-party data, which allows publishers to have direct control over the data collected from their users. This means that publishers can build a more accurate and comprehensive understanding of their audience, leading to more effective content recommendations and personalized experiences.
Secondly, without third-party cookies, media publishers have the opportunity to foster trust with their users. As users become more aware of privacy concerns and data security, they are likely to appreciate publishers who prioritize their privacy and offer transparent data practices. This can result in increased user loyalty and engagement.
Lastly, the decline of third-party cookies forces media publishers to explore alternative advertising strategies. Instead of relying solely on third-party data for targeting and personalization, publishers can focus on contextual advertising, which takes into account the content and context of a webpage to deliver relevant ads. This shift will lead to more meaningful and less intrusive ad experiences for users (just as long as you can track the various content flight dates and deliver the ROI info for advertisers).
Challenges and concerns surrounding third-party cookies going away
While there are benefits to the decline of third-party cookies, there are also challenges and concerns that media publishers need to address. One of the main challenges is the need to adapt to new tracking and targeting methods. As third-party cookies become less prevalent, publishers need to find alternative ways or partners to gather user data and deliver personalized experiences. This may require investments in new technologies and strategies.
Another concern is the potential impact on advertising revenue. Third-party cookies have been a key component of programmatic advertising, which relies on real-time bidding and audience targeting. Without third-party cookies, media publishers may experience a shift in the advertising landscape, which could affect their revenue streams. However, this also presents an opportunity for publishers to explore new advertising models and partnerships.
Lastly, the decline of third-party cookies raises questions about the future of measurement and analytics. Third-party cookies have been used to track and measure the effectiveness of advertising campaigns. Without them, publishers may need to rely on alternative methods to gather data and assess their performance. This requires a shift towards more privacy-friendly measurement techniques.
To quote Mr. T.'s response to this AI query, "Prediction, PAIN."
Please let us help you figure out how to address these types of technical concerns.
The future of third-party cookies, and the importance of data ownership
The future of third-party cookies is uncertain, as their decline continues and new privacy regulations are introduced. However, one thing is clear: the importance of data ownership is paramount. Media publishers need to prioritize data ownership and establish transparent data practices to build trust with their users.
By owning and controlling their data, publishers can ensure that user information is collected and used responsibly. This includes obtaining explicit consent, providing clear data policies, and implementing robust security measures. Data ownership also enables publishers to offer personalized experiences that are tailored to users' preferences while respecting their privacy.
In conclusion, the decline of third-party cookies presents both challenges and opportunities for media publishers. By understanding the significance of this shift and adapting to new tracking and targeting methods, publishers can navigate this changing landscape and continue to deliver valuable content and experiences to their audiences.