Future of third-party cookies: advanced store looks optimistically into the unknown

Future of third-party cookies: advanced store looks optimistically into the unknown

A spectre is haunting the industry, the evil word "cookiecalypse" keeps popping up. The end of third-party cookies seems inevitable. But it will not come as quickly as initially feared. This gives the industry time to rethink old strategies and develop new ones.

There will be a streamlining of existing technologies and it will open the way for new ones. It is even possible that the end of third-party cookie tracking will be reconsidered, because there is definitely resistance to it. The last word has not yet been spoken in this matter. Therefore, advanced store is optimistic about the future of tracking, because even without third-party cookies, there will still be opportunities to target users with advertising and to deliver campaigns efficiently.

It is true that advertisers are dependent on "global players" like Google. Overall, however, the advertising sector is only one part of the online business. Work is already underway on a wide variety of data protection-compliant solutions for the time after the "cookiecalypse". To paraphrase the words of German chancellor candidate Annalena Baerbock: bans can also be drivers of innovation. A ban on third-party cookie tracking will inevitably lead to the industry having to develop other ways to best reach users and track transactions.

However, we are faced with two problems that need to be approached differently: How do we reach the appropriate target group (audience targeting) and how do we measure the resulting conversions? There are already various solutions for both questions.

Evolution towards more cookie control

There was already a lot of excitement in the run-up to the introduction of TCF 2.0, but the implementation succeeded. advanced store is a recognised "IAB registered vendor" of the framework and supports the standardised solution for processing GDPR-compliant data consent. The IAB Europe is now tightening its measures to control compliance with the TCF agreements. Repeated violations threaten exclusion from the framework.

So now third-party cookies are no longer to be accepted by browsers in order to use, among other things, users' view data for conversion purposes. Google is already working on a solution with the "Privacy Sandbox": "The Privacy Sandbox initiative is developing innovative, privacy-centric alternatives for key online business needs, including serving relevant ads," it says on the Privacy Sandbox website. At Google, they are certain that "relevant advertising and monetisation do not have to be sacrificed in favour of a private and safe web browsing experience". However, the introduction of the Privacy Sandbox has meanwhile been pushed back further. Originally announced for 2022, the end of third-party cookies is now set to be heralded in mid-2023 and will be completed by the end of 2023 after a three-month transition period. "For Chrome specifically, our goal is to have the key technologies ready by the end of 2022 so that the developer:inside community can adopt them then. [...] Chrome could then phase out third-party cookies over a three-month period - mid to late 2023," the Google blog outlook said.

sandbox timeline

Until major market players like Google provide alternatives, Chrome will continue to allow third-party cookies - as can be seen from the recent deadline shift and the various solutions being pursued by the Web Incubator Community Group (WICG).

Proposed solutions (Google) under development:

  • FLoC: Federated Learning of Cohorts enables user behaviour to be evaluated by the browser and matched against similar browser data. The data is processed internally on the device and is not passed on to third parties.
  • Fledge: The user's browser combines interest group data with ad buyer and seller data and business logic to conduct an "auction" to select an ad. This ad auction takes place locally on the user's device rather than sharing data with a third party.
  • First-party sets: Third-party domains allowed by the site operator are treated as first-party.
  • Conversion Measurement API / Attribution Reporting API: Development of APIs for measuring click and view events.

When it comes to measuring view and click data, Google is relying on "privacy-focused techniques" such as aggregating information, adding noise and limiting the amount of data when creating the Chrome Conversion API, according to the Google blog. "In the coming months, Google Ads teams will continue to explore how the planned conversion measurement APIs can be used in conjunction with Google's measurement products to support use cases such as reporting view-through conversions, determining incrementality and reach, and attribution."

The most promising development currently, in our view, is that of conversion measurement API and first-party sets. But here, too, an agreement on a uniform standard of the various browser providers is necessary in order not to rely on isolated solutions.

More market power for Google?

It may come down to a central first-party data strategy solution from Google and its countless services. Google could also win the race in international competition in the measurement of views and clicks with its Chrome Conversion API. However, this would essentially contradict what the EU data protectionists actually want to achieve, as it would give the US corporation the greatest power over the data and its processing. After all, the purpose behind all measures is to protect the user's personal data.

But therein also lies the opportunity to improve the quality of the data collected. If only those users who are willing to receive offers tailored to their interests agree, the likelihood that they will also make a purchase increases. "Black sheep" in the industry who do not want to protect user data would gradually disappear. So instead of banning cookies completely, they could be made more controllable and "white lists" could be created for reputable providers.

"Advertising has always existed and will always exist. The (data protection) regulations separate the wheat from the chaff. Black sheep' in the industry will have a harder time, quality providers will prevail" (advanced store CTO Fabian Hübner).

advanced store is therefore relatively relaxed about the change that will inevitably come. For the time being, there will be no complete shutdown of third-party cookies, so there is still enough time to develop solutions that satisfy both data protection and the interests of advertisers.

Related links to the topic:

Google Privacy Sandbox: https://privacysandbox.com/

Google Blog: https://blog.google/intl/de-de/

IAB Europe: https://iabeurope.eu/

TCF 2.0: https://iabeurope.eu/tcf-2-0/

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