That’s The Way the Cookie Crumbles: Will Google Mic Drop the Cookie Drop?

Has Google answered our tracking prayers? With the extinction of the cookie becoming more imminent, Google announced this month it may have the solution to our tracking dilemmas.

Cookies track users’ browsing history. This type of information on consumer interests, buying behaviors and demographics is pure gold for marketers. We are no longer in the days of black hole marketing (or at least we can see more of the light than before) and having data providers and cookies to tell us exactly how, where and who we should be targeting benefits us all. 

How cookies currently work by using “Browser Fingerprinting” to collect user-level data.

The theory of throwing spaghetti at the wall and seeing what sticks as far as who your core audiences are — OR where marketing dollars should go — had been alleviated thanks to everything the cookie once did for us. As consumers started to understand how Big Brother was using their information, more browsers started to pull back on cookie tracking.

Consumer privacy is now at the forefront for operating systems and browsers. What does this mean for marketers? The digital ad ecosystem relays on cookies to help with advertising, and without the ability to track someone as they maneuver through sites, how will we make informed decisions on targeting interests and demographic information? So Google storms in with what we all hope is THE solution to web analytics for a new decade.

Google has been testing a solution called Federated Learning of Cohorts (FLoC), but don’t jump up and down yet. This tool is currently being used as a browser extension for Chrome (I mean personally I love you Chrome), in which advertisers can expect to see at least 95 percent of conversions per dollar spent on ads when compared to cookie based advertising.

Using FLoC, your phone personalizes the model locally, based on your usage (A). Many users’ updates are aggregated (B) to form a consensus change (C) to the shared model, after which the procedure is repeated.

Image Credit: Google AI Blog

This technology uses machine learning and cohorts to group people with like-minded browsing and internet habits; part of Google’s greater initiative that they lovingly call the “Privacy Sandbox.” The “Sandbox” has a set of rules that phase out the cookie vs. Apple’s more abrupt approach to sever ties with cookie-based tracking in one fell swoop.

Obviously, internet giants are the biggest players in the market to fill the gap of tracking without cookies and thankfully Google has the chops and means to create a powerful solution (hopefully). Of course, retailers and businesses will still be able to leverage first party data they’ve acquired, but not all companies can rely on this alone. 

Your phone participates in Federated Learning only when it won’t negatively impact your experience.

Image Credit: Google AI Blog

We hope Google won’t go all 2020 on us and that they’ll actually come up with a usable solution for the depletion of the cookie. The approach of having a solid solution in place while phasing out the cookie, will ensure we can track users while maintaining more privacy to consumers for decades to come. 

Now, more than ever, brands and advertisers need to make sure there is a plan in place to stay ahead of the curve on the changes to come in the market. Is your marketing strategy ready for these changes? Are you certain the data loss won’t impact your bottom line? We’re happy to take a look and safeguard your marketing future.

A person in a dark room

Authored by:

Jackie Mullady

Sr. Specialist, Advertising & Search

With a background in print, digital and digital ad operations, she likes to think of herself as a digital Jackie of all trades.

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