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Cookieless Future Get Familiar with Google Cookie Update

Google is one of the main tech industry players with over 91% search engine market share and a major role in the state of the modern internet. It’s no wonder that Google’s 2020 cookie update announcement has caused a backlash in the digital community, affecting the business performance and personal life of millions of users worldwide.

Although changes to internet privacy laws have been anticipated for a while, most online businesses relying on personalized advertising weren’t ready for Google’s move. This article explains everything you need to know about the cookieless future awaiting us and how to prepare for it.

What Are Cookies, Exactly?

Before we dive into reviewing Google’s cookie update, we should first clearly define cookies. If you’re already familiar with the term, please skip the section.

Simply put, cookies contain information about a website’s users, including the web browser they use and their behavior. For example, cookies may store information about the pages a user previously visited to offer personalized advertising when they visit the website next time. Cookies play a vital role in web marketing and custom user interactions. They also make the log-in and payment process more convenient for the user because their information is already saved on the website.

We can divide cookies into two major categories - session and persistent cookies. The former only retains user information while the browser window is open. If the user revisits the page after closing it, they are treated as a new user. Persistent cookies have a specific lifespan unaffected by closing the browser window.

Additionally, cookies differ in which party tracks the data. First-party cookies are limited to a specific website. The website collects and tracks data such as log-in credentials and preferences to customize the user experience.

In contrast, third-party cookies are tracked by a third party unrelated to the website a user is visiting. Third-party cookies typically serve marketing purposes, showing users targeted ads. You may have noticed ads for products you’ve been looking at in online stores on other websites – these are third-party cookies in action.

Google Cookie Update in a Nutshell

The Google update is related to third-party cookies. The company announced that the Google Chrome web browser would stop supporting third-party cookies within two years in 2020, and now, we’re well into 2022.

The decision is related to Google’s concerns about user privacy. Over 70% of Americans admit they’re concerned about their privacy when browsing the web. The news has predictably caused a backlash among web marketers worried about losing a powerful advertising tool. However, Google stated that they would be working on developing new cookieless advertising tools emphasizing user privacy.

Google’s cookieless update isn’t particularly innovative. Mozilla Firefox and Apple’s Safari browsers already give users an option to disable third-party cookies. However, Google is the first tech giant to disable third-party cookies by default. Furthermore, Mozilla Firefox and Apple’s efforts weren’t particularly effective because the companies didn’t offer an alternative to third-party cookies. Google’s update objective improves user privacy measures and enhances web marketing transparency while providing businesses with new opportunities.

How to Prepare for Cookieless Future?

The earlier web developers, marketers, and website owners establish a plan for a cookieless future, the higher their chances of staying afloat when big changes arrive. This update will inevitably impact how websites collect, measure, and utilize user data, and unprepared players are bound to experience customer losses. Here are the steps website owners, developers, and digital marketers can undertake to get ready for the update launch.

Stay Up to Date

Google is still working on the third-party cookie replacement, so staying up to date is vital. You should also stay informed to ensure your business is ready for any new changes to the user privacy laws. Businesses can find recent updates on the matter on Google’s Privacy Sandbox web page.

Stay Up to Date

Focus on First-Party Cookies

With the absence of third-party cookies, first-party cookies will gain more value. E-commerce and other online businesses can effectively utilize first-party cookies in their marketing efforts. For example, first-party cookies facilitate abandoned cart e-mailing and targeted product recommendations. Personalization improves user experience and leads to better conversion.

The main challenge is convincing users to share their data. Unlike third-party cookies, first-party cookies require businesses to build direct customer relationships with mandatory user consent. Companies willing to persuade users to authenticate with their website should provide them with compelling reasons to do so. You’re likely familiar with such tactics. Online businesses may offer users exclusive promotional offers, competition entries, or early access to new products in exchange for data collection.

Shifting the focus on first-party cookies also has long-term benefits. The more businesses collect first-party user data, the more accurate they can measure the actual website audience size, behavior, and preferences. A better understanding of the audience helps to segment consumers and fine-tune targeting.

Emphasis on Contextual Advertising

Contextual advertising refers to placing ads on select channels based on their content. For example, a business selling activewear may place its advertising in fitness and lifestyle-focused blogs to reach its audience. The key to successful contextual advertising is aligning the company’s and platform’s target audiences.

With third-party cookies, advertising is personalized but entirely out of context.

You may view a phone case on Amazon, then visit a medical website and see a phone case advertisement there. The ad reaches its target but lacks effectiveness because it’s taken out of context. A person reading how to treat a headache is unlikely to forget about their pain and focus on choosing a phone case. There are exceptions, of course. However, if a person reads a medical website, they will likely be more receptive to a painkiller ad.

Contextual advertising is more cost-effective than behavioral advertising utilizing third-party cookies because it doesn’t require extensive data processing. Businesses can target their audience by keywords and platform niche instead of individually tracking and analyzing each user’s behavior.

Furthermore, contextual advertising is safer for the brand’s reputation. Businesses can choose where to display their advertisements and avoid environments harming their image. Most importantly, contextual advertising is relevant but not creepy. Users don’t feel stalked and, consequently, have a better attitude towards the brand.

Consider Other Marketing Channels

Thousands of businesses lose a major marketing channel with the new Google cookieless update. Thankfully, when one door closes, another one opens – at least if you’re willing to invest the effort. Businesses should expand their online presence by exploring new channels and advertising forms. For example, brands not yet on social media may acquire social pages and invest in influencer marketing.

Be Relevant and Useful

The most effective way to convince users to share their data is to build trust. Businesses must provide real value and stay relevant, prioritizing customer experience over cookies and search engine optimization. Investing in engaging copywriting, customer service, and interface design effectively helps nurture customer loyalty.

Be Relevant and Useful

Use Universal ID

Google’s update doesn’t mean that businesses have to give up on personalization entirely. Universal IDs are a decent alternative to third-party cookies. A universal ID recognizes a user’s identity across different platforms to facilitate personalized advertisement. The universal ID doesn’t need to process third-party cookies but relies on first-party and offline data such as IP addresses, timestamps, and ISP information, not restricted by Google.

An example helps to illustrate how universal IDs work:

Suppose an iPhone user scrolls Facebook and sees an ad. They tap the ad and are redirected to the brand’s website. The user decides to make a purchase but switches to their Windows laptop because the checkout is more convenient on a larger screen. First-party cookies would recognize this person as two different users. Meanwhile, a universal ID allows websites to deduplicate users to collect more accurate data.

The main challenge with universal ID utilization is that it requires IT team involvement. Marketers may not sufficiently understand the processes to gather and analyze data correctly. Furthermore, universal IDs are prone to data leakages. The spike in universal ID popularity in marketing and its ethical concerns may lead to another major privacy update in the future.

Invest in Organic Traffic

With Google’s cookieless update, organic traffic becomes more valuable than ever. Businesses should heavily invest in search engine optimization and guest blogging to drive traffic directly to their websites. A smart SEO strategy helps businesses attract users at any marketing funnel stage without creeping into their browser activity.

Stay Informed and Adapt

Hopefully, our guide has helped you understand Google’s reasons, goals, and consequences of the cookieless update. Staying up to date and adopting modern technology is the only way to stay afloat once the update launches. IT professionals can help businesses adapt to the industry change and implement new tracking, analyzing, and targeting tools. Don’t hesitate to contact the Interactivated team to learn more about your business growth opportunities in the cookieless future.

By interactivated • on April 30, 2022

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