But why is this significant? And what does it mean for advertisers? We are going to cover everything in this article, so read on to learn more.
What Are Cookies?
If you are truly behind the times, it’s imperative that we start this article with a small explanation about cookies. For those who don’t know, cookies are small text codes that can be embedded in websites and used to track users who visit that website.
For example, say John is shopping for a new headset, and he goes to Target.com. As he looks at the headset options on Target, the small bit of code begins to track his internet usage from that point forward. That means that even if he leaves Target.com, Target continues to get information about John and his internet usage.
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Why Are Cookies Going Away?
Well, Europeans aren’t the only ones who started to feel a certain way about cookies, and in recent years, California has also introduced and passed legislation to give citizens back some of their rights alongside the state of Virginia.
Thanks to California, many other states and countries are now reviewing their policies on cookies and data tracking. Google fears there will be more regulation down the road, and therefore, announced cookies would be ended in 2022 to keep up with legislation. This death date was later delayed until 2024, but from what we’ve heard, cookies will be completely removed from Google in Q4 2024.
Is the Death of Cookies Good?
As privacy advocates, we are ecstatic that cookies are going away. However, this isn’t all good news, mainly because Google already has a replacement technology in mind.
The details of this replacement technology haven’t been made public. In a recent article, Google also mentioned that large companies may have their own tools in mind. We hope that these tools are nothing like cookies, but we don’t want to get our hopes up.
What Can Companies Use Instead of Cookies?
A new type of data collection is on the rise, known as zero-party data. This data is nothing like cookies and instead relies on data that a consumer chooses to provide. Examples of zero-party data include polls, questionnaires, and quizzes that an individual chooses to take.
While not all companies may use these ethically (for example, they may not disclose that the answers to the quiz are for marketing data), they are much more voluntary than cookies.
The big problem with zero-party data collection is the fact that it is most often taken using social media, such as Instagram and Facebook, and in either case, massive amounts of data are still being farmed by the parent company Meta. If there was a way to collect this data without using social media, then it would be much more private (in our opinion).
For companies who are looking for an alternative to social media, email is a good option, as is text surveys, the only problem is getting your customer to opt into receiving those types of messages. While it might be a no-brainer for large chains that see the same customers time after time (think big-box grocery stores), it will be difficult for small businesses to get the same enthusiasm from customers.
This is why, although we are ecstatic that cookies are going away, we worry for small businesses in America. Cookies were a market tracking method that was accessible to everyone. We aren’t sure that the methods of replacing cookies will bring the same information to small businesses, and it could cripple their marketing processes.
Of course, we don’t know for sure that this is what will happen in the future, but it is one of the many concerns.
And the worst part is, we all know Google won’t suffer. Without cookies, Google will operate just as it did before. They will also still allow advertisers to buy ads, providing them with the same information on who is searching for what. So, don’t feel sad about Google during this transition.
How to Prepare for the Death of Cookies
If you are a customer, there is nothing you need to do to prepare for the death of cookies. One day, you will simply notice that you get fewer personalized ads on your sidebar than you did before—if you even notice at all.
We simply warn you to be cautious of anything you agree to on websites because now that cookies are going away, you can’t ever be too sure when you are agreeing that the company can use your data versus when you are maintaining your privacy.
For business owners, we recommend that you don’t wait to see how to death of cookies impacts your business. Rather, we recommend starting to shift your strategy now, especially if you rely on cookies.
Look for marketing opportunities that don’t require audience data collection and develop some surveys you could send to consumers to get an idea of what they want to see more of. Consider some incentives you can create to entice consumers to provide their data voluntarily and deduce the best way to connect with your customers from this point forward.
If you do all this now, then when cookies officially disappear in January 2024, you will likely barely notice, and life can go on as usual—without all the blatant data thievery.
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