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Chrome Third-Party Cookies 2024 Phasing Out

Third party cookies countdown

The digital world is gearing up for one of the most meaningful changes in the privacy landscape. Google’s long-awaited plan to phase out third-party cookies in Chrome begins Jan. 1, 2024. This marks the beginning of a new era, in which Google’s Privacy Sandbox toolkit will be incrementally activated for Chrome developers to replace third-party tracking cookies with privacy-protecting API alternatives such as Server Side Tracking.

This news brings both opportunities and challenges for online businesses. In this article, we will examine the implications of this change and discuss the emergence of Server Side Tracking as a solution to this problem.

Key Points 🔑

  1. Phasing out Third-Party Cookies by Google: Google Chrome will begin phasing out third-party cookies starting Jan. 1, 2024, an important step toward improved user privacy.
  2. Server Side Tracking as a Solution: With the deactivation of third-party cookies, Server Side Tracking, which uses first-party cookies, becomes a compliant and effective alternative method for data collection and advertising.
  3. Implications for Online Businesses and Advertisers: This transition brings both challenges and opportunities. Advertisers must adapt to changes in targeting capabilities and data collection methods.
  4. Preparing for the Future: It is essential for companies to begin moving to Server Side Tracking now to stay compliant with privacy regulations and continue to operate effectively online.

Google’s Phasing of Third-Party Cookies.

The first phase in removing third-party cookies is almost complete. Google has announced that it will gradually enable the Privacy Sandbox toolkit for Chrome developers after the release of Chrome 115 on July 18. This marks an important milestone toward completely phasing out third-party cookies, a goal Google has set to achieve by Q3 2024. However, the timeline of this rollout is “subject to change depending on the results of monitoring.”

The Privacy Sandbox Timeline for the Web.

Google: “Subject to alterations depending on the results of monitoring.”

Google Tracking Protection: A New Turn in Privacy Management

Google is taking a significant step with the introduction of Tracking Protection in Chrome. This progressive feature, which heralds the phasing out of third-party cookies, signals a major shift in how user data is Administered and protected on the Internet. With this change, effective January 2024, Google is encouraging developers to switch to first-party cookies (more on this later). This move toward a more privacy-centric approach has far-reaching implications for advertisers and marketers, who are now forced to rethink their strategies and adapt them to this new reality.

google-new-tracking-prevention-example

From Third Party to First Party

Phasing out third-party cookies has significant implications, as client-side tracking (current way) works based on third-party cookies, while Server Side Tracking works based on first-party cookies. If browsers ever decide to block first-party cookies as well, it would have a huge impact on website functionality. First-party cookies namely are crucial for various functionalities on websites, such as staying logged in, functioning of shopping carts, security, and remembering language preferences and other settings. So this is not going to happen anytime soon.

You can find more info in our blog post about the difference between First-party cookies and Third-party cookies.

Impact on Consumers

Google’s choice to disable third-party cookies has both positive and negative implications for consumers.

PositiveNegative
Enhanced Privacy ProtectionLess personalized online experience
Reduced risk of data misusePotential payment walls
Regulatory complianceAdjustment period needed

On the one hand, this decision represents a victory for consumer privacy. On the other hand, it calls into question existing advertising models and creates potential complications for end users and online services.

Influence on Advertisers

The use of third-party cookies essentially served two main functions:

  1. Reclaim Visitors: Individuals who have previously visited your Web site.
  2. Attracting New Customers: Based on their preferences and interests.

Suppose a user arrives at your webshop with third-party cookies disabled. The webshop uses both Google Analytics and Facebook Pixel to re-target users who have left a product in their shopping cart but have not checked out.

In this situation, it is not possible for both Google and Facebook to label this visitor as a potential customer for future ads. This has serious implications for return on ad investment (ROI), as retargeting usually has a high rate of return.

This is equally true for behavior-based segmentation. If Google blocks third-party cookies, the ability to build detailed customer profiles is greatly reduced. This means that ads cannot be as finely tuned to the interests and behavior of individual users.

Test your website in a Third Party Cookies free environment

To measure the impact of the upcoming changes, it is important to test your website without third-party cookies. Here are two methods:

Incognito mode in Chrome

Enable “Block third-party cookies” in your Chrome settings and re-examine your site in incognito mode. There are a few drawbacks to this method of testing since incognito mode also disables first-party cookies, among other things.

incognito-mode-blocks-all-cookies-including-first-party cookies

Chrome Flag Testing

For this reason, Chrome has a new feature: chrome://flags/#test-third-party-cookie-phaseout flag. This feature allows you to launch a version of Chrome that simulates the environment after the third-party phase out.

Testing-Your-Website-in-a-Third-Party-Cookie-Free-Environment

Then you can investigate in the“Issues” tab in the developer tools to identify the affected third-party cookies. Watch the video below for an example.

affected-recourses-third-party-cookies-removal
affected-third-party-cookies-after-removal

Do you have a lot of third-party cookies that won’t work in the future? Then it is important to future-proof your tracking and move to first-party data collection.

The Transition to Server Side Tracking

With the upcoming changes, it is important for websites to switch to Server Side Tracking. Server Side works on the basis of first-party cookies, which are still allowed under the new legislation, so this keeps you GDPR proof and you do not suffer from the third-party cookies phase out. This switch is essential because the current method of tracking will no longer work well once third-party cookies are phased out.

Server Side Tracking restores the ability to (re)target effectively. In fact, Server Side Tracking still allows you to collect detailed data about visitors to your website because this technology uses first-party cookies. This still allows targeted ads to reach visitors who have left a product in their shopping cart at a later time. This again optimizes the ROI of your ads without compromising user privacy.

client-side-server-side-data-owned-by.png

Curious about all the benefits of Server Side tracking? Then check out this blog.

Conclusion

The impending changes in cookie management and privacy laws require a proactive approach from online businesses. By beginning the move to Server Side Tracking now, companies can prepare for a future where user privacy is paramount, while still retaining valuable insights and functionality essential to the success of their online presence.

With upcoming changes such as the phasing out of third-party cookies, it becomes important to understand the terminology surrounding this new reality. This glossary provides a clear and concise explanation of the key terms and concepts you need to know to find your way in the ever-changing landscape of digital advertising and privacy.

TermDefinition
Authenticated IDsLogging into a website with an e-mail address confirms your identity. This confirmation allows the site to build a profile for advertising purposes based on your explicit consent.
Browser fingerprintingThis method captures characteristics of your browser, such as screen resolution, installed fonts and software versions, to uniquely identify your online behavior. More subtle than cookies, it tracks via your browser’s unique characteristics.
Competition and Markets Authority (CMA).The UK Digital Advertising Regulatory Authority, which oversees fair practices in Google’s transition to the Privacy Sandbox for ads.
Consent managementThe set of strategies and tools websites use to obtain your consent to collect and use your personal information, primarily for advertising purposes.
Contextual advertisingThis ad strategy focuses on the context of the Web page rather than the user’s previous browsing history for ad targeting.
Cookieless trackingMethods of monitoring your online activities without using cookies, through techniques such as fingerprinting or the use of first-party cookies.
Cross site trackingA method of tracking your activities on different Web sites to understand your interests and behavior, with the goal of providing targeted advertising.
Data clean roomsHighly regulated and secure data sharing environments that do not directly solve the problem of cookie disappearance, but provide controlled data collaboration.
Device fingerprintingLike a digital detective, this technique notes unique characteristics of your device, such as screen size and fonts, to track your online habits.
First-party cookiesSmall data files stored by the website you visit help remember details such as login information or your shopping cart preferences.
First-party dataData collected directly by a company from its customers, providing first-hand insight.
Google’s Protected AudiencePart of the Privacy Sandbox, this system links ads to users based on broad parameters, not revealing individual user data to advertisers.
Google’s TopicsA feature in the Privacy Sandbox that allows ad targeting based on the general topics of visited sites, not on individual browsing history.
ID agnosticThis term indicates that ad tech vendors are multifaceted and work with several key ID providers in each market.
ID graphsSystems that aggregate data from different sources, such as phones and computers, to create a unified identity for more accurate ad targeting.
Privacy SandboxA set of evolving open standards from Google aimed at improving privacy on the Web by replacing third-party cookies.
Probabilistic IDsA method that uses available data points, such as device type and browser settings, to statistically guess the identity of the user.
Second-party dataThis refers to first-party data obtained directly from another entity.
Seller-defined audiencesA method for publishers to create specific audience segments using their own data, allowing them to offer more targeted ad spaces without third-party cookies.
Third-party cookiesSmall data files placed on your browser by entities other than the website visited, used to track your activities across sites.
Third-party dataData collected by a company that has no direct interaction with the user whose data is being collected.
Zero-party dataInformation that customers consciously and actively share with companies.

FAQ

Is Server Side Tracking cookie-free?

Server Side Tracking uses first-party cookies, rather than third-party cookies like traditional tracking methods. So it is not completely cookie-free.

Ready for the next level?

Start with Server Side Tracking and generate more revenue and conversions in a world without third-party cookies.