The Death of Third-Party Cookies … Eventually

Not all cookies are going away. They can’t. First-party cookies are required for ecommerce websites to hold things in your shopping cart or for you to be able to hit the back button in your browser to get to a page you were on previously.

What is getting the final nail in the coffin by the second half of 2024 are third-party cookies that are a bread crumb data trail left from every website you visit, every keyword you’ve searched for in every browser tab you have open IF you’re using the Google Chrome browser. Chrome uses your browsing information and search history to serve you relevant ads when you visit a website that has ad space available for advertisers using the Google Ad Display Network. An example of that is a Delta American Express display ad served on because I was previously searching for flights using my miles in another browser tab.

Safari and Firefox have been blocking third-party cookies by deault for years. Google’s Chrome browser, used by more than 50% of U.S. internet users, will follow suit and block third-party cookies “to meet the demands of consumers who desire privacy and the ability to control what data can be shared about them,” and I put that in quotes, because what’s really going on is that this move is more about the fact that the data Google has from search and browsing activity on Chrome will be first-party data owned by Google.

Remember, Google is a data aggregator, a search engine provider, and a browser provider and has the most ad inventory available on the internet. Safari, Firefox and others are not all of those things which is why they had no issue ending support for third-party cookies long ago. They had less revenue to lose and market share to gain.

How will Infinity’s core products/services be impacted?

The products/services ID offers, like prospect audience modeling, direct mail, WebIDPlus and Multichannel Direct, don’t rely on third-party cookies or even use them. Therefore, this does not impact us or our clients’ projects at all. We use identity resolution graphs, backed by all data aggregators (Epsilon, etc.)  to target households that are associated with a public-facing IP address of the home’s internet network. Identity resolution providers shifted away from using third-party cookie data years ago in addition to all other data points they use to resolve identity.

How will ending support for third-party cookies impact marketers?

The marketing operation most impacted by this would be search engine marketing (SEM) where advertisers bid on keywords and keyword phrases where ads are served to relevant users who search for those keywords. Search is Google’s most lucrative business unit, which is likely why the date for ending third-party cookie support keeps getting pushed back. Google called the delay a deliberate approach to ensure that the web can continue to thrive without relying on cross-site tracking identifiers.  

Jenny Lassi • February 15, 2023

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