Navigating the Cookieless Future: What Website Owners Need to Know

“A cookieless future”? What does this mean and why was this term invented? 

A cookieless future is a term used to refer to the restriction on the use of cookies on websites. But it’s not necessarily speaking about all cookies, in specific we are talking about third-party cookies. 

If you have never used or come across a cookie yourself (which is unlikely) here is a brief explanation. Cookies are small files, stored on the user’s computer when they visit a website. They are then used to remember things like the user’s login information or their browsing history so that the website can provide them with a more personalized experience. There are more than just two types but we will narrow it down to two of the most popular and relevant. The first is first-party cookies, which are set by the website the user’s visiting, and second, third-party cookies, which are set by other companies (like advertisers). 

The Role of Cookies in Online Advertising

Cookies have an important role in the world of digital advertising, as it helps to deliver a vast amount of important data to advertisers, in turn helping them to deliver more relevant and effective ads to consumers. By tracking the user’s browsing history, cookies can help advertisers understand their preferences and tailor their ads accordingly. 

But this has raised concerns about online privacy. Critics argued that these cookies are a key factor in the rise of  “surveillance capitalism,” where user data is collected for profit. Most of the time users are tracked without their knowledge or consent. 

Hence why, Google has stated the complete annulment of third-party cookies set to begin in 2024, exploring new technologies and approaches that can help protect users’ privacy while still allowing advertisers to serve relevant ads. For example, Google is developing a set of privacy-preserving technologies called the Privacy Sandbox. This Sandbox will use technologies like machine learning to group people into larger, anonymous categories based on their interests. This way, advertisers can still show you ads that are relevant to your interests, while maintaining your anonymity as a user.

So how does the Privacy Sandbox do this? 

  1. Federated Learning of Cohorts (FLoC): Instead of using cookies to track users’ behavior, the Privacy Sandbox uses FLoC. This is a new system where users are assigned to a group with similar interests. Advertisers can then target these groups instead of the individual. 
  2. TURTLEDOVE: TURTLEDOVE (Two Uncorrelated Requests, Then Locally-Executed Decision On Victory) allows for websites to show personalized ads without tracking the behavior of users across the web. In this case, the browser will make the ad-related decisions locally and the user data is kept private. 
  3. First-Party Sets: First-party sets create a network of sites between multiple websites to allow them to share data with each other. They can work together to serve personalized content and ads while still protecting users’ privacy.
  4. Trust Tokens: Trust Tokens are for browsers to provide proof to a website that this user is “real” without having to reveal their identity. This will prevent bots or other automated systems from manipulating the system. 

Impacts of the Cookieless Future on Website Owners

So will consent go away? It’s a clear no! You will still need to ask and obtain explicit consent from your users, as long as privacy regulations are in place.

But you may need to adapt to new technologies. What is immediately clear is that once Chrome phases out third-party cookies, website owners will need to find new ways to reach their audience and measure the success of their ads. This could mean using new tracking technologies or exploring new approaches to online advertising.

Preparing for the Cookieless Future

Here are some steps website owners can take to prepare for the cookieless future:

  • Create relevant, high-quality content: Make sure that your content is catered well to your target user since contextual targeting will be on a rise. Contextual targeting is a strategy that Google uses where it analyses the content on a webpage and places its ads based on the page’s content. 
  • Implement alternative tracking methods: For example, Google is working on a new technology called Federated Learning of Cohorts (FLoC), which groups users with similar browsing histories into cohorts for ad targeting purposes.
  • Understand first-party data: Collect and use first-party data, such as newsletter sign-ups, user accounts, and social media engagement.
  • Use a consent management platform: Even with third-party cookies on their way out, privacy regulations like the GDPR and CPRA will still require user consent before collecting their personal data. 

A CMP can help your website comply with such privacy regulations even with alternative tracking methods being used. Especially as you prioritize your first-party data, a CMP will be necessary to manage user consent obtained through various methods such as newsletter sign-ups, user accounts, and social media engagement. 

  • Build trust: Not only should you show your users that you are complying with the latest privacy regulations, but you should also show that you are putting their privacy as your priority by giving them the option to have more control over their personal data. That’s why it is important to have a clear and concise consent message and accessible information on how you will process their personal data while respecting their privacy. 

So even in a cookieless future, a CMP will still be an important tool for managing user consent and respecting user privacy. Find out how.

Prepare yourself now

The potential move away from third-party cookies is a signal to a more privacy-focused web. While it still may take some time to adjust from website owners and advertisers, when done correctly it can be a positive step towards gaining more trust with your users. 

Take action now! Make sure you already comply with the current regulations and be ready once the new changes take effect. Our CMP is always up to date with new and upcoming legislation changes from all around the world.Simply click here to get started.


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