How would you react when you get to know that someone is keeping an eye on your activities and knows everything about you?

It gets scary for almost every one of us! Similarly, we all know web browsers are concerned about how third-parties cookies are extracting personal data from the websites you visit. This data is further shared with advertisers for retargeting and revenue generation.

Whenever you are searching for a brand new mobile phone on the web, you start getting several ads related to it everywhere. This isn’t a coincidence, it is exactly what cookies do.

2020 is a year of surprises and Google came with surprising news. In January 2020, Google announced that it intends to end support for third-party cookies in its Chrome browser within two years. 

Well yes, It is happening and now with privacy at utmost concern not only for users but even for governments across the globe, it has influenced all major browsers to collectively decide and not support any third-party cookies in the coming years. 

Before we go deeper into this, let’s understand what cookies are and what led to this, and how we can prepare ourselves. 

What are Cookies?

Cookies are text strings that websites save to your hard disk. They serve as a memory tool and are able to recognize your online behaviour and remember your actions.  

While this may sound negative, cookies are actually what makes the World Wide Web work the way it does.  Whether you are online shopping, logging in to an account, or browsing the internet, cookies are responsible for your overall online experience.

There are three types of computer cookies: session, persistent, and third-party. 

  1. Session Cookies
  2. Persistent Cookies
  3. Third-Party Cookies

These virtually invisible text files are all very different.  Each with its own mission, these cookies are made to track, collect, and store any data that companies request.

While working on an online store for an eCommerce company, inspired by the magic cookies used for user identification. He created a modern-day cookie that could store the cart details on the user computer and reduce the server cost. 

This led to the development of the Modern-day web cookie.

Cookies today are still used to identify the computer, but now they have the added function of storing data and also tracking your activity. The pleasantly named packets of data can be useful or a breach of privacy depending on the usage. 

How does a cookie work?

When you visit a website for the first time, the website returns the content and also puts a cookie on your hard drive that has its own unique identification code. 

The site uses this cookie to keep track of your session from start to finish. The reason it’s done is to keep track of your behaviour on the site and recommend and suggest content based on your behaviour for better engagement. 

Now, these types of cookies placed by the websites that you visit on your hard drive are called first-party cookies. 

But there are some cookies that are also implemented on your hard drive by the sites that you have not visited or are not aware of. They are called third party cookies. 

For eg., you visit a site that has a like and share button from Facebook. The buttons interact with Facebook and can save cookies to track your behaviour and use that information later. 

Stuff like this has led governments and regulatory boards to come together and form some rules and regulations to protect data privacy. 

Some examples of the regularities are “General Data Protection Regulation (GDPR)” was established in May of 2018. 

Source: The GDPR sets out seven key principles.

What types of privacy data does the GDPR protect?

  • Basic identity information such as name, address, and ID numbers.
  • Web data such as location, IP address, cookie data, and RFID tags.
  • Health and genetic data.
  • Biometric data.
  • Racial or ethnic data.
  • Political opinions.
  • Sexual orientation.

So we can say that 2022 will mark the beginning of a new cookieless era. 

But before we reach there, here are a few things we all should keep in mind and prepare for. 

Amplify your owned data: Improve first-party data collection:

A precise, careful and thorough implementation of data capturing mechanisms will ensure robust data is available as granular input for targeting and personalization of users who have already engaged with your brand. But bear in mind that starting early is key, as you may need time for data to build up sufficient data volumes. 

Implement best-in-class cookie consent management solutions:

if you haven’t already done so, to ensure that your first-party data is fully compliant with regulations and future-proof. Also, clearly communicate to your customers how you process and protect their data, to increase trust.

Understand your data and audience:

Publishers need to simplify the process & start generating actionable insights from their user data.  Make data relevant, addressable, and measurable.

Subscription walls and paid-for-media:

This looks like a viable solution for publishers creating rich niche content. If your content is premium and adds value to the user, do not hesitate to charge for it. E-papers, Vlogs, Business News, Consultation are few areas where you can charge for the content.

The future is cookie-less, i.e advertisers will not know who they are targeting in terms of his behaviour and preferences, but it gives us an opportunity to build a strong connection with your users and understand them. 

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