How Google’s cookies changes could affect your charity

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Google recently postponed its cookies phase-out

Google initially announced it would phase out third-party cookies on Google Chrome in 2022. They have now postponed that to 2023.


Privacy Sandbox will replace cookies

When they eventually phase out third-party cookies, Google says it will replace them with its Privacy Sandbox system. 

Google says that Privacy Sandbox will reduce the amount of data users have to share while still allowing websites to show targeted ads to them. 

Beyond that, nobody knows what Privacy Sandbox will or won’t do yet. 


How this will affect your charity

Google Chrome has a 65% market share. That means that nearly two-thirds of people browsing the internet are doing it on Chrome. 

So if Google stops third-party cookies in 2023, in theory, that means any websites that use third-party cookies won’t have that functionality for millions of Chrome users. 

Here’s Google’s blog post on their commitments on Privacy Sandbox. It tells you about audience creation, conversion measurement, ad fraud prevention and more.

Here are a few things that could well be affected for your charity.

Facebook Ads

If your Facebook Ads campaigns show ads to people who have been to your website (also known as retargeting web visitors), that wouldn’t be an option if third party cookies are removed. 

RLSA via paid Google Ads

If you use Remarketing Lists for Search Ads (RLSA) in your paid campaigns, you won’t be able to do that come 2023. 

That said, Google ads is a Google product, so we imagine Google will want to help advertisers with this, particularly via Federated Learning of Cohorts (FLOC)

Display retargeting via paid Google Ads

You might already be running display campaigns (aka banner ads) on third party websites. 

These currently rely on third-party cookies and won’t work without them (the Google product disclaimer above notwithstanding.

Reporting discrepancies

You might see mismatches in data between Google Analytics and your CRM. That means you won’t have as much data to know which ads or content are performing. 


First party cookies will still be OK

Remember, this only affects third-party cookies. 

Third-party cookies are created by a website other than your own (a third party) and placed on users devices by your website.

The cookies that allow you to view your website analytics are first-party cookies, so they will still work ok.


Google hasn’t finalised these changes

If Google is delaying changes by another year, that suggests they still have more work to finalise this plan.

Chrome Privacy Engineering Director, Vinay Goel, said in a statement that “We believe the web community needs to come together to develop a set of open standards to fundamentally enhance privacy on the web, giving people more transparency and greater control over how their data is used”. 

Until the changes are finalised, and the alternatives are clear, it’s best not to make any final plans.


Keep an eye on developments

We’ll keep you posted on what Google say next about third party cookies, so watch this space.

You can also check out the Google Developers Blog for all the latest updates. 

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