As Cookies Crumble, How Can Digital Marketing Survive?
In the Digital Age, businesses rely heavily on data to improve their products and services — but consumers are becoming increasingly unhappy about this arrangement. Not only do business seem unable to keep sensitive information safe from threats like hackers, but businesses themselves don’t always use data conscientiously, with the best intentions for their customers’ welfare.
First: What Cookies Are
Computers communicate through packets of data, which are sent within networks and between networks. Depending on the type of network, these packets go by different names: frames, bocks, cells, segments and, when it comes to the web, magic cookies. Cookies are stored on your browser as a way for both your browser and the websites you visit to remember your web activity. Thanks to cookies, browsers can do things like load webpages faster and remember login credentials, and websites can better manage data like shopping carts. Without cookies, navigating the web would be much more difficult, if not utterly impossible in some cases.
There are many types of cookies. Session or transient cookies are only used when you are actively navigating a website, so once you leave the site — either by navigating away or by closing your browser — those cookies disappear. Tracking cookies, however, stay with you; they are also called persistent cookies, and they are long-term records of your visits to the same site. Authentication cookies help verify that you are logged into the right account.
Finally, third-party cookies are generated not by your browser or the website you visit but by another entity, usually an advertiser or social media platform interested in your web activity to better market to your interests and needs.
Next: GDPR, CCPA and Google
Cookies do not change when they are transferred to and from your computer, but that doesn’t make cookies completely harmless. Third-party cookies are of particular concern because users cannot be sure who has third-party cookies or what they are being used for. As a result, users could have any manner of sensitive or identifiable data stored in cookies, and that data could be used for nefarious purposes.
That’s why several governments have worked in recent years to control how cookies function. In 2016, the European Union created the General Data Protection Regulation (GDPR), which protects people and their personal data. Cookies that contain information used to identify an individual fall under GDPR, meaning websites need to handle that data with precision and care. Typically, websites need to disclose the type of information they are collecting on web users as well as how that data will be used. Then, in 2018, California state legislators passed the California Consumer Privacy Act (CCPA), which functions similar to the GDPR but covers California residents.
Yet, Google wants to take cookie management a step further: eliminating third-party cookies entirely. In January 2020, oGoogle announced that within two years, the Chrome browser would no longer support third-party cookies. This is an element of Google’s intention to make Chrome a “privacy sandbox,” where users have more control over what information they spread around the web. However, this aggressive approach to cookies is turning many industries on their head, and most notably any business participating in digital marketing needs to come up with a new strategy, stat.
Finally: The Future of Digital Marketing
These attacks on cookies aren’t likely to be the only ones; several other browsers are making moves to alter how cookies function, and several states plan to pass legislation similar to GDPR and CCPA. Thus, it is imperative that you begin revolutionizing your digital advertising and marketing strategy sooner rather than later.
Undoubtedly, the best strategy is partnering with an experienced digital marketing agency with a reputation for cutting-edge techniques. Not only are companies like Digital Current are committed to staying ahead of the digital marketing curve with more advanced tactics, but they understand how the industry is changing and can easily adapt to new requirements and regulations. Even if your business has an in-house marketing team, it might be beneficial to work alongside a third-party agency during this tumultuous time.
As long as consumers venture onto the web, digital marketing will exist. While you might need to keep your marketing strategy flexible, especially as the cookie jar becomes emptier, you will always be able to improve your business by marketing online.