As Google prepares to phase out cookies from the Chrome browser next year, its parent company Alphabet Inc. has announced that it will not be developing or using any other web tracking tools going forward.
Instead of replacing third-party cookies with other tracking tools, Google has proposed the option of grouping web users with similar interests while keeping users’ web histories private.
This announcement is a huge blow to the digital marketing industry, and could potentially have long-term repercussions.
Third-party cookies are used by websites to capture web browsing records and build custom profiles on users’ interests in order to serve users with personalized ads.
While cookies are an important tool for marketing professionals, the idea that marketers can track users’ activity without their knowledge or understanding has long been criticized due to privacy concerns.
This led to Google’s big announcement in 2019 that it would stop using third-party cookies with the Chrome browser in response to increased data privacy standards in Europe and the United States.
“If digital advertising doesn’t evolve to address the growing concerns people have about their privacy and how their personal identity is being used, we risk the future of the free and open web,” said David Temkin, Google’s director of product management in a recent blog post. “Today, we’re making explicit that once third-party cookies are phased out, we will not build alternate identifiers to track individuals as they browse across the web, nor will we use them in our products.”
It’s important to note that Google will still continue to track users through its own services, including Google Search and Maps.
Temkin cites advances in aggregation, anonymization, on-device processing, and other privacy-preserving technologies as evidence that cookies will no longer be needed for targeted advertising.
“People shouldn’t have to accept being tracked across the web in order to get the benefits of relevant advertising,” he said, “and advertisers don’t need to track individual consumers across the web to get the performance benefits of digital advertising.”