Third-party cookies’ demise and the future of privacy

Introduction

Third-party cookies have been a foundation for advertising on the internet in the past years. They have been used for good and bad reasons yet they are often overlooked and accepted by most website visitors without even thinking.

Cookies are used by over 40 percent of the websites, while persistent cookies that usually increase the convenience and speed of the user are used by 23.7% of the websites. On the other hand, persistent cookies remain a bit more on your computer, from a few minutes or hours to infinity.

A significant number of websites use cookies and have proven helpful for individuals. However, this information has been exploited by advertisements and marketers, and in the past few years, there has been a massive increase in the users concerned for their privacy.

privacy

Following various privacy acts and legislations, Google has decided to follow some of the more privacy-focused browsers such as Firefox and Brave and block cookies for their Google Chrome.

Although there have been multiple browsers that have done this in the past, with 2.65 billion devices using Chrome this change of policy will change the future of internet advertising and data collection.

What are third-party cookies?

Anyone who spends some time browsing the web has heard of the term third-party cookies. They are a series of tracking codes that are generated by a company that isn’t related to you and put in your computer intending to collect data. This type of cookies will be put on your computer once you visit a certain website, and they will remain there until you manually delete them or until they expire.

Third-party cookies can serve the purpose of helping the user to log in without completely typing their name and password. But what cookies are mostly used for is gathering data about the user. Most commonly, social media and various websites will continue to gather your browsing data even after you close them.

This allows them to create a more precise picture of their users, or in the case of internet businesses, consumers, and give you more suitable ads.

For example, if you search about historical documentaries or books on the internet while you have cookies, chances are that you will continue to receive ads for related products or social media pages in the following time.

Since third-party cookies are stored on a different domain, the company that’s in charge of placing the cookies on your computer can even sell your data to other companies.

What are first-party cookies?

First-party cookies are cookies that are created by a single domain, which is the one that you are currently visiting. They are targeted toward improving the experience of the user and they aren’t shared with other companies or individuals.

First-party cookies often function in a very transparent way. Websites will often ask you whether you want to accept them, or they allow you to customize which data they are allowed to collect. Just like third-party cookies, first-party cookies are JavaScript code.

Certain websites won’t allow you to use them without accepting the cookies while others will restrict some features. First-party cookies are there to create a personalized experience while you visit a certain website. eCommerce stores will use your data to give you a better recommendation for their product and to save your shopping cart even if you leave the website.

Commonly, just like third-party cookies, first-party cookies are used to remember your data, language preference, and login credentials.

Even though first-party cookies don’t leave crumbs after your visitors leave your website, there are many ways through which you can use the data of your users. The users have left this data voluntarily and by tracking their behavior on your website, you will be able to create a more enjoyable experience for them.

Eventually, by implementing first-party cookies and analyzing the data that they left, you can increase the number of conversions, and the time that the users spend on your website.

Do second-party cookies exist?

We have first-party and third-party cookies, and people might wonder whether second-party cookies even exist. Well, they can be defined as a combination of first-party and third-party cookies in some sense.

Second-party cookies are cookies that have been collected by a website that has implemented first-party cookies, after which they are shared with another company that is related to the company that collected them.

For example, both Facebook and Instagram are in the Meta Platforms’ possession, so the data collected through Instagram is shared on Facebook. Other examples might be companies or individuals that are managing multiple affiliate websites or internet stores.

Why are cookies being discounted? (200 Words)

The main reason that third-party cookies are being discontinued is because of the latest privacy regulations such as ePR, CCPA, and most importantly, GDPR, which is considered the most important set of regulations in the past 20 years. These regulations and laws are there to protect consumers from their data being sold or shared without their explicit consent.

For websites that don’t notify their users that their data is being collected, they might get sued and fined. Even though other browsers such as Mozzila and Safari block third-party cookies for years, they don’t have nearly as many users as Google Chrome does, and that’s why this is considered the end of the third-party cookies.

This decision made by Google will come into effect by the end of 2023. At this moment, Google is creating significant revenue through advertising and third-party cookies. Without cookies, a considerable amount of their profit will be cut.

For Google, this will mean that they will convert to first-party cookies for their recommended algorithms and advertising campaigns.

What is GDPR?

GDPR or General Data Protection Regulation is, as the name suggests, a regulation in the law of the European Union that concerns data privacy in the European Union. This regulation was adopted in 2016 and became enforceable in 2018.

Even though this regulation was adopted in the European Union, it has power over every company that plans to do business with citizens or companies in the European Union. This regulation pushed other countries to adopt similar data protection laws. The one that shares the most similarities with GDPR is California Consumer Privacy Act(CCPA).

How to prepare for the future?

Two ways will allow companies to function just like they did before this massive change. Companies can use first-party or second-party cookies to continue their marketing and advertising campaigns. The second way that will allow companies to gather useful data is zero-party data.

The best way to endure this change is to cut out the reliance on third-party data. Depending on the type and size of the company, this will take time and resources but it’s best to be ready for this shift. Through first-party cookies, finding partners who can share their data in privacy-compliant ways, and zero-party data, the change is doable.

While first-party and second-party cookies do sound like a useful concept, the companies that will profit the most by implementing them are large corporations that already have a massive user base. However, these companies were also the ones most responsible for invading people’s privacy and selling their data.

Smaller businesses and websites will need to invest a lot of time in creating a picture of their consumer through first-party cookies.No matter the size of the company in question, or the way of conducting marketing, first-party cookies are a significant step forward when compared to third-party cookies in the field of internet privacy.

Zero-party data

Just like first-party cookies, zero-party data is collecting data about users in a non-invasive way. While with first-party cookies the users are notified that their data is being collected and asked whether they should continue, the zero-party approach asks the user directly for their preferences and info.

This is useful when managing online shops since it will help the companies improve the algorithm in a way that is more “human”. Ways that zero-party data is collected are surveys or pop-ups that ask specific questions.

The most common example of collecting zero-parts data is the date of birth of the user. Although people often ignore this and set a fake value, certain companies will use this information to send you promotional content on your email.

Zero-party data approach is transparent and it builds trust between the brand and the consumer.

Is this the correct way forward?

In the era where we completely moved our lives from the real world to the internet, it’s frightening how much information we leave there. For years, and perhaps even decades, large companies such as Facebook and Google had gathered our personal information and shared it with other companies.

Thankfully, as people began to realize the importance of online privacy, new regulations have been brought up to protect us from companies invading our privacy.

Although this is an important advancement in the field of privacy and human rights, without this data, many companies will need to struggle and find new ways to improve their business and advertise their products. For the individual, this trade-off is a positive thing, but we are yet to see how this will impact the market in the future.

About Writer

Veljko is a student of information technology that paired his passion for technology with his writing skills. He enjoys researching topics such as robotics and programming, while he also cultivates his knowledge in philosophy, classical literature, and fitness. Veljko’s favorite writers are Borislav Pekić, Miloš Crnjanski, and Ernest Hemingway.

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