World’s largest advertising seller, Google announced the removal of cookies to facilitate personalized ad tracking dropdowns. This popular tech giant who owns the world’s most popular web browser, Chrome was also following other browser providers by eliminating third-party tracking cookies.
In a comment made by The Competition and Markets Authority in January, “Due to the less share of information with advertisers Google’s plan to remove the cookies would create a significant impact on the advertising market and news websites.
On the other hand, one group of marketers opposed to the idea claims that Google will earn an advantage by eliminating such cookies because it has other ways of obtaining personal information from users.
What’s in a cookie?
Cookies are the web tools used for the temporary storage of user information retrieved during website usage or access. This source is the key aspect of the usage of the modern internet for business and advertisements. Third-party tracking cookies can be used to “follow” a user from site to site, so a website can “know” that you were shopping around for a type of product – like clothes or shoes – and advertise those things to you elsewhere.
As per Google, they are phasing out these third-party cookies. The discretion is following the lead of major competitor web browsers, including Mozilla Firefox and Apple’s Safari, which already block them by default. However various critics raised that Google’s plan to stop these cookies would prevent its rivals from building useful catalogs of ad targeting information whereas Google itself might still be able to do so.
“Today, we’re making explicit that once third-party cookies are phased out, we will not build identifiers to track individuals as they browse across the web, nor will we use them in our products”, Google’s recent blog post said. But as per the comments of Director James Rosewell, Google hasn’t promised to stop personalized marketing, or gathering of data, inside its products – which would involve changing its product terms and conditions. Moreover, the regulators may still need to ensure competition, through legislation, he said, or “advertisers will have little choice as to where they spend their money”.
He also made an argument on fewer privacy advantages for the average user. “You have one large trillion-dollar company that effectively, through an unfair contract… tracks you more of the time, the only difference is you’re going to be logged in, and part of their walled garden.”
“How does that make people more private, or more secure, versus something that doesn’t have directly identifiable information – their name, their email address – it just uses a random string of characters?”
The current shift away from cookies was a reflection of years of tightening regulation and increased consumer awareness and the dropping down of cookies does not prevent all personalized tracking as well. But the industry has come up with creative solutions such as fingerprinting to generate personalized data such as the type of phone or computer, browser version, language, IP address, or even what fonts you have installed – to identify the machine. Even though the advertiser might not know the person’s name, but it can still “follow” that unique fingerprint around the web.
Google, which will continue to sell ads, argues that it and other companies need to come up with a solution that “delivers results” for advertisers. Their source said that people should not have to be tracked invasively to “get the benefits” of targeted advertising. One way of doing so was to “hide individuals within large crowds of people with common interests” so that a person’s browsing history would be difficult to figure out, Google said in its blog post.