Well, this is 2022, and third parties are still running over the web; why? That’s because they postponed the complete scrapping of cookies till late 2023. It turns out that Google is scared of the money they might lose because third parties cookies are the backbone of advertising. Perhaps they are yet to have a perfect replacement for the system.
However, what is certain is that sooner or later, third-party cookies are ending. And it’s going to impact search engine advertisements significantly. Safari and Firefox have already taken bold steps towards eradicating this tracking device on the internet. But only Google has the power to completely shut it down because they have 63% of the global browser market. The company has the final say.
But at the same time, they have to take action because more internet users are beginning to understand the dangers of cookies. And that might cost the company a significant loss that they aren’t willing to bear.
Are cookies dangerous? Why are browsers removing it?
A cookie is a small text containing an identification number sent from a site to a researcher’s browser to track the web pages and sites visited by the internet user. These cookies help to collect a user’s language preference, passwords, and behaviors and store it on their browser.
Cookies are why eCommerce sites are saving your carts, and you can always check into them any time you want. It’s also why you don’t have to carry a book containing all your internet passwords and login details everywhere you go.
There are two major types of cookies: First-party and Third-party cookies. And they are used to improve browser functionalities, improve user securities, gather data for website performance and analytics, and personalize ads for users. The only main issue with cookies is that they are considered to be breaching internet users’ privacy.
First-party cookies are not considered dangerous to users’ privacy. These cookies are responsible for saving users’ carts, security passwords, consents, preferences, and identifiers.
Third-party cookies are those that track the researcher’s behaviors and likes. They collect data that can’t reveal a person’s physical features but have the potential to identify an internet user and their sexual and political preferences.
And therefore, third-party cookies are considered dangerous, and many privacy advocates call for their eradication.
Is killing third-party cookies the right thing to do? Are there other options?
Just like the movies we watch, before a scientist or engineer considers pulling the kill switch for an invention that went rogue, they would have tried other possible options.
The same thing happened with third-party cookies. The concerned bodies have attempted to regulate the third-party cookies to prevent internet users’ data breaching, but it seems the kill switch is the only way to end the mess.
In 2002, an EU injunction ordered that all cookies expire after 12 months of storage or collection. However, this didn’t help the situation, as it was later found that cookies stay on computers and browsers for more than the stipulated period. This caused some other government bodies to rise and enact some cookie regulations.
Other browsers have also followed Apple’s example, and the world is waiting on Google to deliver the final blow that would send a third party to a coma or finally to its grave. The question now is, Is Google willing to do it?
The news of Google shutting down Chrome cookies feature was rumored in 2019, officially announced in 2020, and now postponed to late 2023. As the situation holds, observers begin to doubt the company stands on pulling the kill switch. Meanwhile, the company has been testing some innovations that may replace cookies in the long run.
One of such innovations is the Federal learning of Cohorts, known as FloC for short. FLoC was introduced in 2021. It’s a system that will monitor and record Chrome users’ browsing history for three weeks and use this data to sort each user into groups known as cohorts. These cohorts are search/topic categories, and users would only see ads that fall into groups they belong to.
For instance, if a significant percentage of a user’s three-week browser history suggested that they are car lovers, such a user would only see automobile-related ads. This tracking system was also criticized by privacy advocates and was closed by Google in August 2021 and replaced by Google Topics API.
Instead of your three weeks browsing histories, the Topics API only analyzes the researcher’s last 300 topics, which contain no hint about a user’s gender, sexual, or race orientations and preferences. On opening a webpage that supports Topic API for ads purposes, researchers would be asked to select a topic from three suggested topics they want to see ads.
Each suggested topic is selected from each week of the user’s past three weeks’ history. The chosen topic for each week must have the highest number of searches out of the five most-searched topics made by the user in that week.