Google kills 3rd party cookies
Citing improved privacy and a move towards alternative methods for creating safe and personal experience, Google has rocked many companies with it’s latest revelation. What does the removal of 3rd party cookie really mean for small and mid-sized companies? With time ticking down, how can your business prepare to ensure it is ready for the next generation of tracking and digital marketing.
This week we sat down with 22 year digital marketing veteran, Rob Bunting, and asked him to help us understand. His insight will help you begin preparing for Web 3.0. Listen below.
Kyle Hamer: (00:02)
Rob Bunting: (00:29)
Thanks Kyle. Happy to be here.
Kyle Hamer: (00:31)
We’re excited to have you. This is your, this is your second time on the show. Yeah. First time we talked about, you know, the things you needed to know for Pay Per Click and we want to leverage your many, many years in the industry to tell us what’s going on with people. So what’s your, what’s your hot take here?
Rob Bunting: (00:47)
The hot take. And we’re talking about Google’s, uh, announcement a couple of weeks ago that they’re going to be dropping or blocking third party cookies from their Chrome browser in 2020 to two years on. So understanding what a third party cookie is, or a first party cookie. So, uh, cookies are used. Uh, like when you save your password in a website, it uses a cookie to do that. So first party cookies get stored on your device, your phone or your computer. What do you visit a website at [inaudible] store? Things like your password or items that you viewed on the eCommerce site, things like that. Third party cookies are advertisers, ad networks or external content providers that are cookie and you, uh, so when you go to site a, you might show up on site B and there might be cookies from your interaction on site a and that’s how advertisers can track you and show you ads based on your browsing history or interests, things you’ve searched on, stuff of that nature.
Kyle Hamer: (01:55)
So, all right, so you’ve given us a good definition of what cookies are and how they’re tracking. Um, what was the, what was the official announcement Google made? They made that they’re going to end all third party cookies.
Rob Bunting: (02:06)
Is that right? In the Chrome web browser by 2022. So Chrome is the world’s most popular web browser. A Safari from Apple and Mozilla Firefox have already blocked third party cookies. And since Google controls the largest market share, this is really gonna [inaudible] put a big damper on third party cookies overall. So over the next two years, marketers have to figure out other ways to track people other than third party cookies. And many of the different online advertising, uh, vehicles or targeting methods that exist today won’t work if they’re based on third party cookies at that time. 2022.
Kyle Hamer: (02:49)
So when we say third party cookies, uh, what’s the difference between a third party in a first party cookie as it relates to how Google might classify that? Can you, can you share? Sure.
Rob Bunting: (03:01)
Yeah. So again, first party cookie, if you’re logged into a certain site, and this is kind of where in some ways it benefits Facebook, or at least a lot of people use, they think it will, um, a first party cookie, let’s say I go to xyz.com, well, XYZ dot, whatever it might be, cron.com, cincinnati.com USA today.com, espn.com whatever. Uh, if I go to espn.com ESPN might cookie me, like I might have a login and password ESPN so that they can, I can follow all my favorite teams especially and uh, in, in ESPN world that helps them give you content on espn.com that more matches your interests. If let’s say an advertiser wants to advertise on espn.com they’re a third party, they don’t necessarily have a relationship with a person who’s logged in and has an account, espn.com so if, uh, if I can run a third part, if I’m ESPN allows third party cookies that enables me to advertise on espn.com as a third party, I might be Coca Cola and I might have a third party cookie that says that the Kyle is a chiefs fan and uh, or, or maybe, um, a, what is it, a fan duel, uh, or um,
Rob Bunting: (04:23)
fanatics.com. Oh, Tom Kyle’s a chiefs fan. So fanatics might say, let’s serve chief spanners to Kyle because he’s a two span even while he’s on espn.com. So you may be have never purchased anything from fanatics before, but fanatics wants you to buy some chief stuff to prepare for the Superbowl, so they’re going to target you with the firstname.lastname@example.org so that’s all third party cookies work versus first party cookies. If ESPN served the ad to you on espn.com they’d be doing some of the first party cooking. If fanatics did, that’d be like they’re using a third party cookie too,
Kyle Hamer: (05:02)
I think. I think this is, this is something that for a lot of people is, is challenging to wrap their head around because they’re like, well, if if Mozilla Firefox and Safari have already made this change and Google is now announcing that it’s going to take another three years for them to make the change, like what is it? That’s really the net positive benefit for me as as a consumer. Question one then question two, the follow up question that is is how is it really going to impact my day to day operations for my business, wherever it’s at.
Rob Bunting: (05:32)
Okay. Well, I think there’s been a lot of articles in the press and that’s just it. I think you’re right. A lot of people have their hard time, particularly the general public getting their head around this or they, I think it’s kind of common knowledge now that there’s these things called cookies that are on your computer and this is how Google and other companies are tracking you. And understandably, there’ve been a lot of consumer privacy advocates that have been saying, Oh Whoa, you know, these companies know too much about me and this is an invasion of my privacy. They have such targeted ads, did identify me as an individual person and some people may feel it’s kind of creepy. There are benefits to cookies obviously, but a lot of people are just trying to, from a consumer privacy standpoint, it’s the same. It’s just thinking, uh, some of these companies have gotten to perhaps good at targeting people directly, so they maybe need to reign it in a little bit.
Rob Bunting: (06:28)
Uh, unfortunately some of the alternatives might be even more invasive or invasive than third party cookies. So that’s interesting. So before we answered the back half of that question, let’s, let’s talk a little bit about the things that you think might be, um, dangerous. Like what could be more dangerous than a cookie for your privacy? Well, fingerprinting is part of the technology or packet sniffing. And again, I’m not a coder or developer guy. Fingerprinting is when, uh, ad providers get access to a user’s information such as what device they have, what fonts they haven’t solved. So in other words, a lot of this information’s a Google analytics. For example, right now you’re on a certain model of computer. You’ve got all your browser settings set at a certain amount, your IP address. So, um, fingerprinting could allow websites, um, or advertisers, they could identify a lot more about you than even just cookies do.
Rob Bunting: (07:33)
Even if you’re blocking off cookies or delete them on a regular basis, you can’t delete your fingerprint. You can’t clear it. So a sites can actually track somebody without really their consent or an Anderson really no way, uh, to, to opt out of it. So you can, you can see a person can set their cookie settings at certain levels, but they can’t, um, fingerprint themselves. And then there’s deep packet inspection. So, uh, again, if you think about brat, and again, I’m not a technical guy but I just to understand this at a very basic level, but, uh, you know, different internet service providers like Verizon commodify users, data packets and covertly track people around the internet without letting them know or letting them opt out just by, again looking at the technical background of who’s coming in and understanding things about your machine that you can’t really hide what type of computer you’re on, your IP address and stuff like that. Wow. So, so we go from third party tracking, which you said to a degree we control to big brother and not really have any control over what people are seeing from a, from a [inaudible] from a shift here though, it seems like Google is trying to just get in line with what everybody else is doing, what’s,
Kyle Hamer: (08:56)
what’s Microsoft and being doing
Rob Bunting: (08:58)
to some extent. Well, um, well, Microsoft has their browser. It’s funny you asked that. I just read an article this morning. So Microsoft of course has Microsoft office and there’s Microsoft free office three 65, while these three 65 pro plus a version of the software which competes with Google’s G suite of products, uh, just a couple of days ago, uh, in office three 65 pro plus, it was automatically changing people’s default search engine from Google to being in the software. So that’s kind of it. Again, we’ve, we’ve seen before where Microsoft, uh, years and years ago of course was sued for putting, make an internet Explorer, the default browser and windows and Netscape back then. And so that’s not fair. That’s, that’s uncompetitive. So now, I mean it’s, it’s literally if you have, if you’re using office three 65 pro plus, it’s kind of designed to work with being, so it’s changing people’s default search engine to being a, and then now I T companies have been scrambling the past few days to try and change that back and not do it.
Rob Bunting: (10:05)
So, um, there’s different ways. That’s one way to do it. It’s just she again changed somebody’s computer outside of cookies to kind of get them to use either Google or being or different products. Um, Microsoft and Google are now really being referred to probably be Facebook and Google in particular are being defined now as walled gardens. Way back in the late nineties, we used to talk about AOL as a walled garden. Once you are logged into the AOL service you were kind of in AOL is universe. Well now obviously if you go to facebook.com Facebook is serving all the ads on facebook.com. But also if someone is logged into Facebook on their machine, they’re tracking you wherever you go because you’re logged in, you know, on Facebook, on your machine. So they can serve me first party cookies even if you’re on another site. So Google’s ad network is the biggest, uh, Microsoft is trying to compete with that in terms of search, but also on the, on the display side. So your question of what are Microsoft and being doing, really the duopoly of online advertising is not Google, Microsoft, it’s Google and Facebook. From an advertiser’s perspective. That’s what really dominates the industry.
Kyle Hamer: (11:20)
Well, right. I mean the Google, Google, Google and Facebook dominate. You said something that’s really interesting here. What does this, what does this mean for third party cookies or third party tracking that folks may use for their own internal analytics or conversion pieces? What it, like, what does this mean for, for tools, say like a marketing automation tools like a Salesforce marketing cloud or HubSpot or some of these others.
Rob Bunting: (11:47)
Any of those things that are cookie based. And one of the big keys I think in like you and me and some of our clients and we’ve worked together, everybody, just so you know, uh, so I’m kind of familiar with some of Kyle’s clients. Uh, multitouch attribution is, is much harder if you block third party cookies. So if you think about if someone sees an ad and then makes a purchase, a lot of times people go through more than one step or more than one visit to a website to make a purchase. So someone might do a search, they might, and then they might sign up for a newsletter later. They might see a banner. So trying to attribute the actual sale to the source gets a lot harder without third party cookies. Uh, one of the things, for example, banner or display advertisers, uh, I mentioned your example earlier of going to espn.com and see the banner from fanatics to purchase chiefs items.
Rob Bunting: (12:41)
So if, if, if you do away with third party cookies and you click on that ad, uh, fanatics might have a harder time tracking that to the source without a third party cookie. They wouldn’t know which ad campaign was the actual ad that you saw. So if you see a banner, don’t click on it, but then visit fanatics two days later and purchase, that’s called a view through conversion instead of a click through conversion because you viewed the banner. Well that type of attribution of display campaigns is gone without third party cookies or multitouch attribution. Particularly for business to business advertisers, people may come to a website three or four times before they actually convert, and if you wipe out third party cookies, it’s much harder to track, okay, we know we got to lead well, which ad did it come from? And this affects advertisers of all sizes.
Rob Bunting: (13:38)
Um, and one co one entity that we haven’t really talked about yet is publishers. So think about a newspaper. Uh, newspapers mostly rely on third party ad networks to sell their advertising. They can sell some of it themselves. Uh, and a lot of journalists have come out and said, this is really tough. So, uh, Laura Bassett, who’s a journalist who’s written for a number of top magazines, GQ and others, she put out a tweet the day this was announced and it said a quote, Google eliminated third party cookies is devastating for news publishers ad revenue at a time when the journalism business model is already in crisis. When Firefox did it in Germany, publisher revenue dropped 15%. This can’t happen. Hashtag saved journalism. And that may sound melodramatic and kind of, you know, alarmist, but I think it’s absolutely right. I think, uh, news news publishers and other, um, journalists, bloggers, a lot of their money comes from ad networks. So, uh, this, this could be really devastating because advertisers are going to be less likely to want to advertise on these sites if they can’t track the, the performance of those campaigns
Kyle Hamer: (14:54)
specifically the view through you’re talking through, right? Cause if I convert on that side, I can track that. Sure. Click click the conversion to multitouch attribution.
Rob Bunting: (15:04)
Because again, if you, again, using the fanatics example, if a ESPN, you consider that a publisher, you could consider that new site, right or, or [inaudible] dot com or cincinnati.com USA today, [inaudible] dot com if it makes it harder for fanatics to figure out what ad led to a sale, they might be less likely if at that news, let’s say, uh, the local newspaper, it’s showing ads from Critio and Critio is using a lot of third party cookies and therefore, or if you’re doing a retargeting campaign through Critio, let’s say, so let’s say you went to fin addicts and you looked at chief stuff but you didn’t buy and then you see a banner the next day from fanatics, it says now 50% off Cheech merchandise, click here. And if you were to click and go through, that’s what we call a remarketing or retargeting banner. Uh, if Critio can’t cookie you anymore, they can’t serve you that banner.
Rob Bunting: (16:01)
And it kind of wipes out that kind of campaign. So, and that’s why the day this came out a couple of weeks ago, Critio, which is one of the leading a book ad networks that competes with Google in two days, their stock drops 24% and hit a 52 week low because a, this announcement that Google is dropping third party cookie support. So it could really devastate a lot of other competing ad networks and the companies that use them. And it forces a lot of us marketers and advertisers to spend more on Google if there are, or Facebook, the few big ad networks that are left. A lot of the smaller ad networks just, well our are in trouble in that case
Kyle Hamer: (16:46)
Rob Bunting: (17:00)
if first party cookies are not effective? First party cookies are still okay. It’s the third party cookies that Google is talking about doing away with first party cookies will still exist.
Kyle Hamer: (17:13)
Sounds like, sounds like it’s, um, it’s something that we’ve dealt with or already kind of dealing with, with, with the Safari browser and Mozilla browsers specifically.
Rob Bunting: (17:24)
Mmm, yes. But again, cause curl curl worldwide, I think Chrome has like 60 or 70% market share. So yes, absolutely. This has affected Safari and uh, because it’s in Safari and Firefox. So yes, some of these app networks in particular, for example, critical or have already been struggling and this kind of accelerates that. So yes, isn’t a totally new thing. I’m looking at, you know, looking at like a five-year stock chart for Critio. And you know, about three years ago Critio was $54 a share. Now it’s 14. So I give you an idea of how in an era when internet advertising is continuing to increase significantly trivial, one of the biggest app networks, stock has plummeted or gone down. It was like 75% in the last three years. Um, so yeah, it just kind of exacerbates the trend in that regard.
Kyle Hamer: (18:25)
It’d be, it’d be really interesting to see, see what shakes out and how Google defines first party versus third party. Because I think too, um, to many, many companies, business to business or otherwise this, this appears to have far reaching impact, it’ll have far reaching impact into account based marketing. This will have far reaching impact into a conversion attribution, mixed marketing, mixed modeling. This will have, um, impact into, you know, speed, delete or conversions to your point of retargeting, you know, leaving, leaving leads. There are people that are more likely to close, you know, out hanging in the balance or you know, if you take a monopolistic or a, you know, uh, antitrust perspective, it’s Google doing exactly what Microsoft did when they put office on every PC that came out. Right? Like, it’s, it’s probably well-intended, but there are far reaching consequences that we don’t fully appreciate yet.
Rob Bunting: (19:30)
Yeah, I think that’s exactly right. Um, uh, I, uh, there was a gentleman from India named show moron Dasgupta. He works for a D and I F which is a data analytics platform based in Mumbai, India. And he mentioned that, um, they do one thing about putting this on a bit, let me give a quote here. However, I’m sure that Google doesn’t want to force the death, the cookies too quickly, thereby, and thereby attract antitrust attention end quote. So just like you were saying there, uh, by kind of, they’re trying to kind of do this in such a way that doesn’t really bring in a lot of, uh, antitrust, uh, concerns. Cause obviously there’s already talk about breaking up Google and Facebook right out there in the, in the, this is world. So this would kind of, they don’t want to kind of overdo it.
Rob Bunting: (20:22)
Um, and I have a quote here from Matt Kaiser of a Liveintent for Google, Google and YouTube is one of the majority of their money comes from, and first party cookies from YouTube will be unaffected by this change and close. So it’s exactly right when you think about doing a retargeting campaign in Google, which I’ve, I run several, um, that’s done via putting people in an audience and Google analytics and a Google conserve its ads all over its network. So, but they’re not worried about it so much because they mostly rely on first party cookies. It’s their competitors that really rely on third party cookies. I guess as far as marketers, we’re just gonna have to figure out new technologies that are not particularly invasive that help help to get around this. We kind of have to adapt. So it’ll be interesting to see what technologies come out other than fingerprinting packet sniffing. Like I talked about.
Kyle Hamer: (21:18)
Well in the, in the, you know, the evolution of a cookie cookie wasn’t around 22 years ago when the internet and things you were doing for started. That was an evolution of kind of web 2.0 right. Which is this new, let’s create a more personalized experience. Maybe we’re headed into web three. Dot. Oh
Rob Bunting: (21:34)
yeah. Yeah. I again, I think things will definitely evolve not to sound, uh, you know, maybe the sky isn’t falling as badly as it is for some of these adenoids and publishers, but I think they have to act fairly quickly to survive. And as that quote from the journalist mentioned that, again, we’ve seen it, newspapers around the country are going out of business. A print circulation is obviously down for both newspapers and magazines. And a lot of new sites are, they don’t simply make as much money, uh, from digital advertising as they did in the old print world. Uh, and anything that lessens their revenue at this time is really, really critical. A lot of newspapers around the country that haven’t gone out of business heavily skeleton staffs, uh, they’ve really cut back their newsrooms, uh, and the private knows, you know, new low in it, particularly local websites, local news sites, uh, is, is tough. So yeah, as marketers and uh, companies that are, you know, agencies like myself that are trying to help companies of all sizes, not just large ones, figure out how to spend our ad dollars wisely and generate sales. Uh, this is gonna really force us to develop some new techniques that maybe we don’t have that, uh, yet.
Rob Bunting: (22:53)
And it’ll be curious to see how it shakes out. Be interesting.
Kyle Hamer: (22:57)
It will be very curious to see how it shakes out. Um, some of the stuff, some of the stuff that you’ve mentioned, you know, if you, if you spend any time thinking about fingerprinting or deep packet listening, those types of things, um, if you spend more than five minutes thinking about it and you think about the, not only the, the, um, the business implications and creativity required in order to pull that stuff off, but the, um, the potential security threat and maybe additional, uh, you know, we, we live in an environment where terrorism is moved maybe from what you see in the streets to what’s happening on your PC with more and more, uh, viruses being launched at the, I mean, I met a company the other day where the gentleman is doing cybersecurity for floors in the unit, right? So you start to think about deep packet listening and I can track this stuff all the way down to the machines. Bob’s handheld or you know, the sorting machine inside the factory. It starts to become really interesting. Um, what the next evolution of, of security, privacy and protection is going to mean beyond just advertisers, right? It’s not, not just advertisers. They’re going to have to think about this. It’s, it’s going to have big implications across, I would say, the next 20 years of, of ’em internet behavior.
Rob Bunting: (24:25)
Yeah. As we’ve discussed this, this doesn’t just affect advertisers and marketers like us and our clients. This affects journalists. This affects site owners. As you said, there’s privacy concerns and there’s been so many articles that could third party cookies are bad. And now it’s like, well, what’s the alternative? Guess what? In some cases, from a privacy standpoint, the alternative might be worse. Again, you can at least adjust the browser, setting your cookie settings in your browser. You can’t, uh, affect your fingerprint studies or your data packet settings. So it will be, um, just kind of unintended consequences of this push for privacy. Uh, if anything it, and getting kind of, particularly since we’re talking about Google and that was the Genesis of this conversation was Google’s announcement. You know, they’re blocking third party cookies and grow. It helps them consolidate their power. I mean, they have 70% market share on desktop worldwide and 41% on mobile. Uh, that’s a, that’s huge power right there.
Kyle Hamer: (25:29)
It’s quite a bit of leverage and it does create market opportunity for other people. So I mean, it’d be, it’d be interesting, you know, as one is one power grows, usually there’s a opportunity for healthy competition being introduced in this. We’ll find out. Hopefully. Yeah.
Rob Bunting: (25:44)
And again, I mentioned AOL earlier. You know, when I got into the industry, AOL, half the people in America were on AOL that were online. So, uh, the.com when I was working for, we spent most of our money on all, of course, AOL is no longer with us as technology evolved, people and companies that were dominant players in 1998, some of whom are no longer with us. And who knows where Google will be five or 10 or 15 years ago now from now as dominant as Google and Facebook are right now. Um, it’s not an ironclad guarantee. There could be as dominant
Kyle Hamer: (26:17)
in the future. Well, I mean it, uh, that’s both the beauty of, of American capitalism and one of the terrifying things about American capitalism. You always got to compete and you always got to find a new way to reinvent yourself. Otherwise you could go the way of the Dodo, like AOL time Warner and some of those other companies that didn’t, didn’t make the internet transition very well. Exactly. Well, Rob, I want to, I want to thank you for being a guest today and providing some, some insight. I think the takeaways for me are stay vigilant and keep watching. Look for creative in new ways and who knows, maybe the, the answer to the third party could be doing away with new way. Great. Val, thanks for having me. I appreciate it. Alright.
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