Google To Phase Out Third-Party Cookies by 2022 - What can be the Alternatives?

Supriti Tripathy

14th Jul'21

Digital transformation is forcing businesses to look beyond the world. As they know it- to observe how things are changing on the field and transform philosophies, models, and systems from the core. 

The transformation is enormous, and so are the advantages. Enhanced is the speed of data delivery, the quality of information for decision making, and the wisdom of the digital workforce. With the massive amount of information all over the web and the customer's browsing habits, our industry has strived to deliver relevant ads to customers. However, the concern it generates is that the individual user data is reproduced across thousands of companies by third-party cookies.

These cookies let firms and advertisers track the preferences of customers and collect data about them. It leads to a breach of individual privacy and trust. Hence, Google recently announced to scrap the third-party cookies by 2022 and work on alternatives so that the customers' interest is protected and advertisers' concern is answered. There are several Google hacks you should know.




Cohorts and Profiling

Before we delve into the technicalities brought about by this declaration of Google, we need to understand specific terms. If your privacy is not hampered and you get the best advertisement options you needed, it's a win-win for all, i.e., Google, you, and the advertisers. Banning third-party cookies will ensure that first-hand individual information is not accessible to advertiser companies.

Now, let's analyze the use of cohorts; based on similar browsing history, it will make customers part of a similar group. Your cohort identity is generated using magic numbers called 'smash. These numbers represent your identity and put you with the masses having matching numbers. Profiling involves machine learning algorithms and AI technologies to support real-world issues.

Presented as 'a boost for privacy', Google implies that adverts now target your cohort instead of individual targeting. This is also why DevSecOps is so important.


How Pragmatic is the Concept?

Facebook has offered advertisers adverts based on profiling for a very long time. Hence the idea isn't new. However, Google's intent must be valid. It's still unclear how this model can enhance individual privacy. In any case, cohorts would be needed to reveal the customer's information to all websites. Third-party cookies, on the other hand, never displayed a detailed volume of individual data to all websites.

As the promise made by Google to keep both advertisers and customers happy, it would favor smaller cohorts for the accuracy of targeted advertising. The smaller the cohorts, the easier it will be to spot individuals in them. Hence, this move is here to open a can of worms and introduce several new risks for privacy and discrimination.



Specimen of the Model

As mentioned at some point in the article, Facebook has already used a sample of the proposed model. It creates cohorts or lookalike audiences of an individual and continues its advertising based on this. Profiling creates several different named cohorts that enable advertisers to create custom audiences with diverse interests.

One such case happened in 2016 where Facebook allowed housing advertisers to exclude users based on race. However, even when Facebook amended its audience groupings, advertisers still could discriminate based on similar sensitive interests.


Alternatives to Third Party Cookies


  • Conversion Measurement APIs allow advertisers to measure performance without using third-party cookies.
  • Contextual Advertising would track interests but eliminate one on one marketing.
  • Publishers to be given a privacy budget that would be capped to eliminate any browser fingerprints. If the cap is exceeded, access to API will be denied to the publishers.
  • Trust Tokens are alternatives to cross-browser tracking. Privacy passes to be issued to trusted users but not be available for monitoring.
  • Cache inspection, navigation tracking, and network-level tracking could mitigate potential workarounds.




Google's Motivation & Future

Google claims to be loyal in its first-party relationship, and Google needs to connect with its customers directly. However, the new model only spills the beans on how Google will retain tracking possibilities of logged-in customers after the model is implemented.

The plan has been successful in creating a lot of confusion on the cyber privacy rights of an end-user. Google is the biggest beneficiary of Chrome's move from cookies to cohorts. Interested groups will watch over the policy. As termed by Google, "privacy boon" is only a few steps ahead of the traditional targeted advertising reach. Our work is to wait and watch the difference and significance of the move.  


We at OpenGrowth, are committed to keeping you updated with the best content on the latest trendy topics from any major field. Also, both your feedback and suggestions are valuable to us. So, do share them in the comment section below.

A believer of good things and pursuer of diverse avocation, she is a fiction lover and a simple writer. Supriti has a number of professions to her list and she feels challenges are the only answers to failures.


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