As Google prepares to remove third-party cookies, how can retailers adapt to the changes?

In February 2020, Google confirmed the news that many marketers had been dreading: in an effort to build a more private web, they were phasing out the use of third-party cookies on Chrome browsers by 2022. Plans to eradicate third-party cookies accelerated in September 2021, when Google announced that they would not be creating any “alternate identifiers to track individuals as they browse across the web, nor will we use them in our products.” 


Brands and digital marketers have relied on cookies to track website visitors since their introduction in the nineteen-nineties. The small text files that reside on your computer that allow servers to identify and remember information about you opened a door for businesses to see how their users navigate the web. Consequently, this data has been used to improve website user experience and customer journeys, as well as to better target ads to the right audiences. 



Why is Google removing third-party cookies?


With rapidly evolving regulatory restrictions, the official line from Google is that they don’t believe cookies meet the rising expectation for privacy on the web. As such, Google does not see cookies as a ‘sustainable long-term investment’. The browser will now instead move towards products powered by privacy-preserving APIs – supposedly still delivering results for advertisers and publishers but removing the ability to track individuals. 


Google Chrome is not the first browser to phase out third-party cookies, but it is the biggest – accounting for more than half of all global web traffic. Firefox and Safari blocked this form of individual tracking in 2013; however, Google’s announcement suggests this is the final nail in the coffin for this data sourcing. 


In a blog post, Google explained that this move is a response to users requiring more privacy on the web, explaining: “Users are demanding greater privacy-including transparency, choice and control over how their data is used and it’s clear the web ecosystem needs to evolve to meet these increasing demands”. Google has, however, suggested that they will work alongside advertisers to ensure this move doesn’t destroy eCommerce businesses.

How to prepare for the removal of third-party cookies

There’s little doubt that the removal of third-party cookies will impact the eCommerce world; however, there are plenty of alternatives available to help online sellers prepare for a cookieless web. Although these methods may require businesses to rethink their data collection strategy, it’s still possible to target and analyse audiences without breaking privacy barriers. 

Keep informed

The most important tool in any web retailer’s box right now is knowledge. Ensure that you’re staying up to date with any developments or news relating to third-party cookies as well as any data privacy issues that could impact your business. 


Here are some publications that may be helpful for you to keep an eye on: 


Go back to basics

Contextual advertising is still a great option for digital marketers; this allows you to place paid ads on websites that rank for similar keywords as yours. For instance, if you’re selling homeware, your ads will be shown on decorating or interior design websites. This is an older strategy, but one that is effective in a strategic paid marketing campaign. 


This comprehensive guide from Publift will show you how to do contextual advertising like a pro: Everything you need to know about Contextual Advertising.


Trust in tech

If you are relying heavily on third-party cookies, you should start to consider solutions or software, such as Unified ID 2.0, or investing in your own first-party data collection to leverage existing consumer data and generate valuable insights.  


Google’s Privacy Sandbox is one initiative that aims to “create web technologies that both protect people’s privacy online and give companies and developers the tools to build thriving digital businesses to keep the web open and accessible to everyone, now and for the future.” 


Armed with the right knowledge and by staying alert to new innovative targeting solutions, there’s no reason why you should need to panic over the removal of third-party cookies. 


That being said, these changes do emphasise the importance of adopting a comprehensive strategy to manage multichannel customer acquisition. If merchants can implement a platform like Expandly to streamline the process-management side of their eCommerce business, they can ultimately gift themselves the time they will need to focus their efforts on marketing in a brave new cookieless world.


If you’re ready to connect and grow your business, why not book a demo today and see what Expandly can do for you?


About Expandly

Expandly is an eCommerce SaaS platform that makes selling online easier.

Connect your sales channels, shipping carriers, warehouse, and accounting software into one initiative and simple-to-manage dashboard.

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