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Unveiling the Impact of Third-Party Cookie Phaseout on Data Collection

Discover the anticipated impact of Google's removal of third-party cookies on data collection and advertising targeting in 2024.
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What will the web look like after the disappearance of third-party cookies? During SMX Paris, Benoit Le Bras, data and measurement lead at Google, and Emmanuel Chomier, senior manager for Converteo, spoke about this major change, which should take place at Google in 2024. But what is a third-party cookie, and what impact will their disappearance have? Response elements.

Illustration depicting the concept of third-party cookies and their phaseout, symbolizing changes in online advertising and data privacy.

First- or third-party cookies—what are they for?

Everyone knows cookies. Every visit – or almost – to a website begins with a request for consent from the Internet user, with the aim of placing this anonymous identifier on their browser. A cookie is associated with a domain, has a specific lifespan, and is stored and managed by the browser. Thus, the cookie has "imperfecknows about,"  specifies Emmanuel Chomier: “It is ephemeral; it is not cross-browser nor cross-device,"  that is to say, it is linked only to the browser while such as the device used to visit the website.

But cookies are divided into two main types: the first-party cookie and the third-party cookie.

  • First-party cookie: this type of cookie is dedicated to services and analytics, with four main uses. It ensures the service of a site and its proper functioning in the eyes of the user, thanks to the “strictly necessary cookie”; it allows you to store browsing preferences, such as your connection identifiers, for example, using the functionality cookie; it provides measurement and analytics information; and it allows the personalization of the visited site according to the user's habits.
  • Third-party cookies, also called third-party cookies, have two main uses related to advertising. Thus, it makes it possible to target and retarget advertising for the Internet user, just like measuring media performance.

Each of these typologies has its own characteristics. The first-party cookie is linked to the site on which it was created and cannot be used outside of this site. The third-party cookie, for its part, is placed by a third-party domain on the visited site, tracks the visitor on several sites, and provides key elements for online and targeted advertising. “Google is, for example, a technological player that will be the third party, acting as a link between website and user,” explains Benoit Le Bras.

The main impact of a world without third-party cookies

Google's decision to end third-party cookies in 2024 will therefore affect many Internet players. However, the two experts want to be reassuring. Firstly, Benoit Le Bras wanted to point out that “Google is the last to delete third-party cookies." . Indeed, the Safari and Firefox browsers did so in 2018. “This era of cookieless already exists and concerns 40% of Internet traffic,” adds Emmanuel Chomier. “This helps to calm a somewhat alarmist discourse; it is not a big bang. » Four out of ten users in France already browse cookieless tools.

Due to their different uses, the disappearance of third-party cookies will also affect sectors whose activity is focused on search much less, while those operating on advertising (ads) will be more impacted. This is one of the reasons why Google has extended the deletion time for third-party cookies. “Publisher sites rely on advertising, for example, Marmiton, which relies on third-party cookies. If we decided to turn off the tap, explains Benoit Le Bras of Google, we would kill an entire ecosystem. It was indeed necessary to regulate, particularly for questions of privacy, but not to kill the market.

However, the removal of third-party cookies by Google, a major player in the sector, will lead to some notable changes. Three main impacts are expected:

  1. Loss of functionalities: certain functionalities will disappear, for example, retargeting, logically leading to a drop in the volume of data collected.
  2. Partial vision of performance: due to the legal dynamics of recent years, with the implementation of the GDPR and mandatory consent, 30 to 50% of traffic can no longer be tracked, depending on the sector.
  3. Distorted data: the use of different browsers, but also ad blockers, distorts the data because, depending on the tools and uses, the same wealth of data is not collected.

It will therefore be necessary to find other means to collect such rich and varied data, in particular through the exploitation of first-party data, which will not disappear, but also through the use of new tools, such as the Privacy SandBox of Google, an open source initiative that may be a first move.

Understanding the Impact of Google's Third-Party Cookie Phaseout - FAQ

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