How retailers triumph over the looming third- party cookie apocalypse

By Andy McNab, VP EMEA, Fanplayr

The decision by Google and the other major browser operators to axe third- party cookies threatens the effectiveness of many retailers’ websites.


rganisations will still be able to use first-party cookies for their own domains, but the use of third-party

cookies to monitor what visitors do on other domains will stop. This is a big change.

For years, third-party cookies have allowed a retailer to track where consumers go, once they have left its website, providing a wealth of data that fuels personalisation and optimises interactions with those same consumers when they return. The information from third-party cookies is also critical to the accurate targeting of internet advertising.

This decision to ban third-party cookies has been taken in a broader context. It follows the increase in privacy concerns following the EU’s GDPR (General Data Protection Regulation) and the CCPA (California Consumer Privacy Act) in California. Apple and Firefox have already acted, and Google will make its own move in 2022. Since Google has more than 60 per cent of the browser market, its decision is highly significant.

Retailers need new solutions to fully exploit their website data It is such a major change that unless organisations start focusing on how to use the data from their own websites, they are likely to experience a significant drop in revenues from next year as consumer behaviour is lost in a forest of generic information. In retail, all brands must think smartly about new customer insight and personalisation solutions

40 that maximise their own website visit data.

Google itself has acknowledged the potential impact of its actions on revenues. Analysis by the company of the 500 largest Google Ad Manager publishers globally over three months found where no cookie was present, revenues plummeted by an average of 52 per cent compared with traffic where there was a cookie. This is one of the reasons behind its Privacy Sandbox initiative – an attempt to create a secure environment for personalisation that also protects user privacy. Little in the way of meaningful results has come out of this so far, however.

Although we know Google plans to end the use of third-party cookies, information has only trickled out, which is why companies may not have fully grasped the seriousness of the situation. It has not helped, either, that each browser operator has its own interpretation of how to deal with third-party cookies and privacy. Most browser companies are restricting storage access where cookies have been identified and classified as compromising user privacy. However, Safari has followed a different tack with its Intelligent Tracking Prevention. This uses multiple methods to restrict storage access for third parties algorithmically classified as having cross-site tracking capabilities.

Whatever the approach, brands will have to battle harder to get consumers to their sites, using keywords and SEO-optimised content.

Direct Commerce |

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