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4 Questions to ask your ad agency about a cookieless future

Google announced in early 2020 that its Chrome web browser would phase out third-party cookies over the next two years. Google’s statement followed similar decisions by Apple, Microsoft and Mozilla. Digital marketers are reacting to Google’s announcement with shock, calling the situation “The Cookie Apocalypse.”

Many businesses that rely on digital advertising outsource the work to agencies, like Parkway Digital. This is a great strategy; you get to focus on what you know best and we worry about optimizing your digital ad spend. However, when Google announces a change as big as this one, we recommend checking in with your ad agency.

Not sure how much you really need to know? Start with these four questions:

Why are people talking about The Cookie Apocalypse?

What makes this situation scary for businesses that rely on third-party cookies is that we don’t know what the alternative looks like yet. Currently, third-party cookies are one of the only technologies that make some digital advertising tactics possible. Eliminating third-party cookies could force businesses to completely change how they advertise.

However, Google also stated that they “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.”

What are cookies?

Cookies are tiny bits of data that a website adds to your browser. This data helps websites understand more about you. There are two types of cookies: first-party and third-party. First-party cookies only track your activity on the website where the cookie came from. You need first-party cookies to add multiple items to an online shopping cart or for a website to remember your login information.

Third-party cookies are from websites other than the one you’re currently on. They stay in your browser and various platforms monitor them to learn more about your online habits and deliver more relevant ads. Cookies, invented in 1994, weren’t meant to capture or share as much information as they do now. This type of cookie has raised privacy concerns, which is Google’s primary motivation for eliminating the technology.

How does my advertising use cookies?

If your digital advertising efforts only utilize the Google Search Network or YouTube, you’re not using third-party cookies. If you remarket to past website visitors on the Google Display Network, your advertising relies on third-party cookies.

How does Google’s decision affect my business?

Remarketing and other behavioral targeting enabled by third-party cookies is just one part of an integrated digital marketing strategy. Digital marketers will still be able to target based on first-party cookies collected by the advertising platforms themselves, including Google, Facebook and Amazon.

Parkway Digital is excited to learn more about Google’s alternate technologies and how they’ll impact ad delivery and conversion tracking. We’re also encouraging our clients to focus on the platforms and information they own. For example, a robust email list, organic social media presence and content strategy should be part of any healthy digital marketing plan in a cookieless future.