Seizing your data destiny: Google delays third-party cookie phase-out

Seizing your data destiny: Google delays third-party cookie phase-out

On June 24, Google announced in a blog post it intends to delay by more than a year its self-imposed deadline to deprecate third-party cookies in its Chrome browser. The timeline was originally targeted for March 2022 but is now expected to be complete by late 2023. 

“While there’s considerable progress with this initiative, it’s become clear that more time is needed across the ecosystem to get this right,” stated Vinay Goel, privacy engineering director for Chrome, who penned the blog post.

The blog post cited a number of variables contributing to the delay, including a desire “to allow sufficient time for public discussion on the right solutions, continued engagement with regulators, and for publishers and the advertising industry to migrate their services.” But what undoubtedly pushed the timeline forward was Chrome’s decision to end the initial trial of its proposed alternative for third-party cookies, Federated Learning of Cohorts (FLoC).

FLoC is a type of web tracking that groups people into “cohorts” based on their browsing history for interest-based advertising. It was promising but also problematic. Earlier this year, The Economist reported that it may be hard for Google to “stop the system from grouping people by characteristics they wish to keep private, such as race or sexuality.” The article also expressed privacy concerns, suggesting that cohort systems could facilitate fingerprinting of individual devices.

Everyone agrees that third-party cookies aren’t perfect – they’re household, not individual, identifiers. Moving past cookie-based marketing makes philosophical, ethical and practical sense. However, this year-long reprieve enables companies to continue developing their own solutions and to make up lost ground and lost time. 

After all, personalization, measurement, and general customer experience (CX) are getting harder to execute effectively. The pandemic accelerated people’s desire for meaningful, relevant and personal experiences – without sacrificing privacy and protection. Google is simply giving a temporary stay of execution, not a pardon.

Moving forward

Chrome still intends to phase out support for third-party cookies by late 2023. Google holds the dominant position in online advertising, and any change to Chrome has a deep impact on brands. Furthermore, Google isn’t the only major player altering the digital landscape. Apple has already made changes to restrict third-party cookies in their web browser, along with changes to mobile identifiers and email permissions. Right now, the “data titans” are making the rules. 

Our advice? Don’t wait for Apple, Google and Chrome to solve this challenge. Now is the time for brands and their marketers to consider the future resilience of their identity and martech solutions. First-party solutions – those built and owned by the brand – are the foundation for navigating the new media landscape. Marketers should continue to invest in strategies that solve for the delayed deprecation of third-party cookies. 

Look at it this way: first-party data belongs to the brand, and it can be used to the brand’s own discretion, provided compliance is met. Brands who adopt a first-party identity graph simply render moot any changes made by Big Tech. 

Building an identity graph helps brands generate a consistent, persistent 360-degree view of individuals and their relationships with those brands. Enterprise identity graphs hold all the identifiers that correlate with individual people, and they can unify digital and offline first-party data to inform the single customer view and manage the changes that occur over time.

Use this unexpected “overtime” to take control of your data destiny. Implementing a first-party, private identity graph is a great starting point. If you’ve yet to explore this path from end to end, expertise and resources are available. In the meantime, move with a sense of urgency and establish, or continue investing in, first-party identity strategies for managing identity across connected channels.

Sources: June 24, 2021., Why is FLoC, Google’s new ad technology, taking flak? May 17, 2021.

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