[Infographic] The Cookie Deprecation Timeline: What You Need to Know

While Google has delayed cookie deprecation for all Chrome users to early 2025, that doesn't change the fact that cookies are on the outs and that the clock is ticking for brands to find alternatives that deliver better outcomes and user experience.

The removal of cookies from Chrome, regardless of changes in timeline, will mark a seismic shift in the digital advertising landscape. In this blog post, let's delve into the Google's cookie deprecation timeline and what it means for businesses and consumers alike.

Google Chrome Cookie Deprecation Timeline

The history of cookie deprecation is a complex and multifaceted journey, marked by various milestones, technological advancements, regulatory changes, and industry responses. We have created this Infographic featuring a detailed breakdown of its timeline:

Infographic of the Third Party Cookie Deprecation Timeline for Chrome

2017: Apple Safari Deprecates Cookies

  • Intelligent Tracking Prevention (ITP) was introduced in September 2017 with Safari 11.
  • ITP evolved through subsequent updates, becoming more restrictive towards third-party cookies and cross-site tracking.

2019: Mozilla Firefox Deprecates Cookies

  • Enhanced Tracking Protection (ETP) was introduced in September 2019 with Firefox 69.
  • ETP blocks third-party tracking cookies by default, providing users with greater control over their online privacy.

2020: Google Chrome Announces its Intent to Remove Cookies

  • In January 2020, Google announced that Chrome would phase out support for third party cookies in the browser.
  • This started with trials on conversion measurement and personalization by the end of 2020.

Jan 2024: Google Disables Cookies for 1% of Chrome Users

  • In January 2024, Google turned off cookies for 30 million users.
  • This follows years of Google warning advertisers of their intention to end third party targeting in the Chrome browser.

Mid 2024: Google Expected to Disable Cookies for 10% of Chrome Users

  • Following the initial test period, Google intends to continue to disable cookies with 300 million users with up to 10% of users, or 300 million users, having their cookies turned off

Early 2025: Google Expected to Fully Phase Out Cookies

  • Google will continue to collect feedback from the industry, regulators and developers, plus perform industry tests throughout 2024.
  • By early 2025, once the testing is complete, cookies are expected to be removed for all Chrome users globally.

A Brief Background on Third Party Cookies

What are third party cookies?

Third party cookies are created via data/ad tech companies and are most frequently used for online advertising. These cookies track and share a user's browsing history and activities across the internet as they visit different websites. Third party cookies differ from first party cookies which are generated by individual websites that a user is currently visiting.

Why do advertisers use them?

Advertisers use cookies to build profiles and audience segments that they can target (and re-target) with personalized ads for products and services. They’ve long been seen as in invasion of people’s privacy. The data they provide is often of poor quality, meaning they are increasingly inefficient and ineffective for advertisers to target audiences and track performance. And they lead to a poor user experience, with ‘creepy’ creatives that follow you around the web.

Why are cookies no longer relevant?

Privacy Concerns

Advertisers are responding to increasing public awareness and concerns about online privacy, seeking alternative methods that respect user privacy and data protection.

Regulatory Pressure: Evolving regulations, such as GDPR and CCPA, are placing restrictions on the use of third-party cookies, prompting advertisers to explore cookieless targeting solutions to ensure compliance.

Browser Changes: Major browsers like Google Chrome, Safari, and Firefox are phasing out support for third party cookies, forcing advertisers to adapt to a cookieless future and explore new targeting approaches.

User Opt-outs: As more users actively opt out of cookie tracking or use ad blockers, advertisers are recognizing the limitations of cookie-based targeting and exploring alternative strategies to reach their audience effectively.

Enhanced User Experience: Advertisers are shifting towards methods that prioritize user experience by delivering relevant ads without relying on invasive tracking, fostering a more positive relationship between brands and consumers.

New Cookieless Targeting Solutions & Their Benefits

The removal of third party cookies is a massive opportunity for brands to benefit from innovative and brand-safe solutions that have the power to drive better performance and user experience - in a way that third party cookies never could.

As advertisers seek more ethical and transparent methods of targeting consumers, alternatives like first-party data, contextual targeting, privacy sandbox, alternative IDs and data clean rooms are gaining prominence, promising a more respectful and user-centric approach to online advertising.

Targeting methods that do not rely on cookies offer numerous benefits in the evolving landscape of digital advertising. Firstly, these methods prioritize user privacy by reducing reliance on intrusive tracking technologies, aligning with increasing regulatory scrutiny and user demand for greater data protection.

By respecting user privacy, advertisers foster trust and transparency, enhancing the overall user experience. Moreover, cookieless targeting approaches such as contextual targeting leverage the content and context of the user's online experience rather than individual browsing behavior, leading to more relevant and engaging ad placements.

Additionally, these methods provide advertisers with resilience to tracking restrictions imposed by browsers and regulatory bodies, ensuring the sustainability of their advertising strategies. By diversifying data sources and focusing on transparent, privacy forward targeting, advertisers can adapt to changing market dynamics while maintaining effectiveness and user trust in their campaigns.

The Death of Cookies & Rise of Contextual Advertising

While there are many cookieless solutions available in the market, not all solutions are created equal.

Contextual is the only cookieless solution that focuses on understanding and targeting the mindset of what audiences are doing, whereas others still attempt to build user profiles and target audiences on what they did before.

Why Contextual is a Prime Cookieless Solution

Contextual advertising offers advertisers several notable benefits that make it one of the leading alternatives to third party targeting:

Reach the Right People in the Right Moments

With contextual targeting, advertisers can reach users based on the content they are browsing in real time, rather than their historical browsing habits. The content a user is viewing at any given time signals interest and intent. As such, this targeting tactic allows you to reach users when they are in a receptive frame of mind.

Protect Consumer Privacy

Now more than ever, audiences do not wish to be tracked online. Unlike behavioral advertising, contextual advertising does not rely on third party cookie data - it instead places ads within relevant content that users are already interested in and engaging with.

Thus, it protects consumer privacy and ensures that users do not feel like they are being followed or watched online.

Target Niche Audiences

With contextual, an advertiser can target by topic or use a collection of keywords for more precision, which can be as broad or granular as desired. This means that advertisers can hone in on the specific audience niche they want to reach.

Access Metrics in Real Time

Contextual advertising campaigns are served programmatically, which means that advertisers can review real-time metrics to optimize as needed. With the right programmatic partner, ads can be verified and served on relevant domains pre- and in-flight.

Optimizing campaigns in real-time strengthens a live campaign's performance, which ultimately improves the outcome. And, being able to make in-flight changes means that advertisers are able to make adjustments that may reduce ad dollar waste.‍

Ensure Brand Safety

It’s not just legal safety that brands need to worry about, but the safety of their reputation too. And for behavioral advertisers, this has been difficult to maintain in some cases. More and more, brands are discovering their advertisements in non-brand safe environments, like adult or extremist content. But this is the risk of placing advertisements based on your user’s behavior alone.

With contextual targeting, however, the web page on which your ad will display is the heart of the campaign. You specify the topics, subtopics, and keywords, making it less likely your ads are going to follow a user to an environment where they don’t expect (or want) to see advertisements—including where you don’t want them to appear.‍

Build Brand Affinity

Consumers today care about where they shop, and they are increasingly conscious of the environments where brands choose to advertise. Contextual advertising offers a brand safe advertising environment while also building brand affinity, because ads are served based on content a user is browsing.

Advertisers are able to connect with consumers who are receptive to purpose-driven messaging and looking specifically for brands that align with key values.

GumGum’s Cookieless Solution

At GumGum, we’ve proven the power of cookieless contextual solution - perfecting our expertise and running successful cookieless campaigns for the past 15 years.

We empower brands and advertisers to leverage consumer mindset to effectively place ads within relevant content that resonates with their target audiences. Our AI-driven advanced contextual technology, Verity™ , goes beyond keywords to uniquely process web content signals across text, image, audio and video, all without cookies. 

This level of insight allows your brand to: 

  • Identify insights & trends that improve your audience targeting beyond traditional data & keywords.
  • Determine suitability and brand safety by eliminating irrelevant and unsafe content.
  • Expand your reach and impact amongst relevant audiences that are in the mood for your brand messaging. 
  • Future-proof your targeting by reaching your desired audience without relying on personal data or cookies.

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