HomeResourcesGoogle’s shift away from third-party cookies, what will this mean for email marketers?

Google’s shift away from third-party cookies, what will this mean for email marketers?

29th January 2024 - 5 mins


By Tim Roe

, Compliance and Deliverability Director

In the dynamic world of digital technology, Google’s decision to phase out third-party cookies on Chrome by the end of 2024 marks a notable shift in the digital landscape.

This initiative is part of a broader move towards a privacy-first web, resonating with the rising tide of privacy concerns and aligning with regulations like the GDPR and the CCPA.

What are cookies and what do they do?

Sadly, none of these cookies have chocolate chips and a moreish taste, but they have proven their value to a digital marketer time and again. In non-technical terms we can describe cookies in the following way:

First-party cookies

These are like your website’s core memory bank. When someone visits your site, first-party cookies help remember their preferences and what they clicked on last time. They are essential for behavioural and personalised communications. It’s like when you meet your best-friend and recall tales of the last time you went on an adventure together.

Third-party cookies

Third-party cookies are like an outsider trying to get to know your visitors. Advertisers and analytics tools use them to track what people do across different websites. It’s like someone following you and your best friend around to see where you’re going and what your interests are.

Did we miscount there?

Technically, no. Second-party cookies do not exist. However, second-party data does. Partnerships between brands share common customer data with each other. Think of these as a friendly exchange of information between two websites that trust each other. It’s like talking to another friend about your best friend and telling them about all the things they like and have in common with each other.
Google Chrome on a laptop in a red office

So why has Google deemed third-party cookies bad?

Google, like many other tech companies, has expressed concerns about privacy and user tracking associated with third-party cookies. And users themselves have often expressed concerns they feel their online activities are being monitored without their consent.
Third-party cookies can also be exploited for malicious purposes, such as tracking users for targeted attacks or gathering sensitive information. This poses security risks the industry is keen to minimise.
Google’s Victor Wong told TechCrunch “This plan was developed with close consultation and coordination with UK’s Competition and Markets Authority — the CMA. We consulted with them on this and we felt this is the best way to, jointly with the industry, actually test out the solution.”
“In Q4 [2023], we helped coordinate some of the testing and make that easier. Q1 [2024], we deprecate for 1%, which then, for everyone in the industry, forces them to seriously start experimenting and testing.”

Women on laptop buying clothes whilst in a coffee shop

The end of third-party cookies: What’s changing?

Google’s approach to phasing out third-party cookies is gradual. Beginning with a test involving 1% of Chrome users from Q1 2024, the plan is to expand this to all users by Q3 2024. This step-by-step rollout is designed to minimise disruptions and allow web developers and advertisers time to adjust.
Google’s phase-out of third-party cookies is a significant step, emphasising the importance of user privacy. It’s a move that goes beyond technical adjustments, signalling a shift towards more privacy-aware practices in the digital industry.
The future of digital advertising and privacy is poised for change, and it will be fascinating to see how this evolves.

What will the future look like?

Advertisers are now tasked with rethinking their approach to tracking and ad targeting. They need to audit their existing systems, test for compatibility with the new standards.
The primary goal here is to strike a balance: enhancing user privacy while ensuring the continued functionality and financial viability of the web.
Google aims to maintain relevant advertising, which is crucial for the economic sustenance of many online platforms.
Man using laptop dressed in red

Will RedEye tracking be affected by this change?

You’ll be glad to know that RedEye tracking uses first-party cookies, and those cookies and the data they collect are never shared with third parties.
This means that RedEye cookies are a low risk to privacy, as the data is only gathered from those customers that have a relationship with our clients. Also, that data, once gathered, is securely held by RedEye and is for that clients use only.
RedEye cookies do not track people across multiple websites or share data with multiple businesses. RedEye tracking technology continues to be as effective and compliant as it has always been.
Women sat at desk looking at laptop whilst eating a cookie

A golden opportunity for email marketers to show their worth

Google removing third-party cookies represents an opportunity for email marketers. With less reliance on invasive tracking, email marketing can take centre stage as THE permission-based communication channel.
Brands can now fully focus on building genuine connections with subscribers, who willingly share preferences. It’s about delivering personalised content without compromising privacy. Crafting compelling, personalised content becomes crucial, as users appreciate messages tailored to their interests.
Google’s move aligns with the growing demand for privacy online. For email marketers, it’s the opportunity for your brand to embrace the change, prioritise user consent, and start allocating more budget and resources to the email channel over display advertising.

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About the author

Tim Roe
Tim Roe Compliance and Deliverability Director

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