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Google is Killing Cookies: Here’s What it Means for You

Discover the impact of Google's cookie phase-out on your data and marketing strategies in our latest blog post.

Big changes are coming for Chrome users: Google is killing cookies in the name of user privacy. Google announced its plan to stop supporting third-party cookies back in 2020. Since then, EU and UK regulators have intervened to prevent them from killing cookies too quickly—which is where the constant cookie pop-ups came from. Now, the slow rollout of the death of cookies is finally here. For one percent of Chrome users (about 30 million people), Google has already disabled cookie support. The rest of its users will be phased out of cookie support over the coming months. While this currently only affects Chrome users, Google’s dominance in the market means other browsers will likely follow suit. Source: The Wall Street Journal

What’s a cookie and why is it being phased out?

  • A cookie is a small piece of data stored on a device, usually within their web browser, by websites they visit.
  • Cookies are used to store information about the user’s interactions with the website, their preferences, and tracking data.
  • Cookies have earned a reputation for spying—by tracking user data, they can compile detailed and sometimes invasive user profiles.
  • Companies can profit from the sale of the information and it typically is well out of the individuals’ control.
  • Don’t want to wait for the phase-out? Here’s how you can kill your cookies now.


If cookies are gone, what’s next?

  • Google’s Privacy Sandbox is an initiative to protect individual privacy while giving developers safer and more secure tracking information.
  • The Privacy Sandbox will offer sites and apps alternative ways to show you personalized ads.
  • It will minimize what information is used, limiting the amount of data shared.
  • Chrome is testing Tracking Protection, a new feature that limits cross-site tracking.


What does this mean for digital marketing?

  • Marketers have relied on third-party cookies to help build, target, and retarget audiences. Without cookies, individual profiles will no longer be created, and advertisers will no longer be able to target based on their engagement and behaviors exhibited online.
  • The data acquired from cookies doesn’t have a reputation for accuracy and with the new methods, Google is working to improve the accuracy of the data.
  • First-party data will give you deeper analytics of onsite activity (e.g., forms, landing page engagement, or events).
  • Google is introducing new privacy-conscientious methods for audience creation called TURTLEDOVE and FLoC (Federated Learning of Cohorts).
  • Google has a new privacy-safe alternative to cookies: Topics API. Topics API is interest-based advertising with ‘top interests’ of browsing history kept for up to three weeks and stored on the user’s device.
  • Google’s FLEDGE (First Locally-Executed Decision over Groups Experiment) will be similar but for ad retargeting.
  • Attribution Reporting API can be used to measure conversion without third-party cookies.


How can healthcare prepare?

The death of third-party cookies will have major effects on the healthcare industry due to the implications of user data collection. Healthcare marketing will need to adapt to the future of more private browsing.

  • Use Contextual Targeting, which doesn’t rely on third-party cookies. While this ad placement gives higher-cost impressions, it generates more meaningful customer connections and brand favorability.
  • Another tactic is to incentivize users to exchange personal information (email sign-up, survey, etc) for something of value. Use this information to provide targeted information to connect with consumers. For instance, if they prefer telehealth to in-person primary care, share information on telehealth services they can use.


What about higher-education marketers?

With this major change, higher education needs to focus on first-party data for less invasive and more personal advertising.

  • First-party data encompasses information voluntarily provided by a student or parent, such as their email address submitted through a survey or by completing a form in exchange for a desired item (such as Campus Visit registration or a course catalog).
  • Utilize this information to better understand their needs, interests, and intent. Use it to provide more relevant ads to them.
  • With first-party data, you need to ensure that you handle data privacy permissions (opt-ins, opt-outs) appropriately and that server-side tracking is done accordingly.


Need help adapting your marketing to a cookie-less world?

With the phase-out of third-party cookies, marketing strategies will need to adjust to this new challenge. Targeting individuals won’t be as easy, but it will still be possible to reach the right audiences. Need help? Contact us to discuss your options and how you can adapt your marketing to maintain measurable results.

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