the COOKIES DIE OUT FOREVER: As we discussed throughout 2020, third-party data is mortally wounded and will die by next year. In a blog post published yesterday, Google added that they won’t be trying to build any kind of cookie replacement for tracking individual users’ activity across the Web.

The official verbiage basically says “we’re making a long-term bet on privacy because we think people will ultimately dislike any platform where that’s not the priority.” This makes sense and it’s good PR—intentionally or not, it aligns Google with Apple’s privacy-forward posturing—but if this move seems like a risk on Google’s part, it’s largely because of what author David Temkin didn’t say in the post. Namely:

1️⃣ Google is the single largest ad seller in the market, so they’re big trendsetters to say the least. Temkin basically says that other companies may try to go where Google isn’t going, but let them try, especially because…

2️⃣ Google has been developing alternatives that work in completely different ways from third-party cookies, yet (reportedly) offer about 95% of the same results. The big idea they’ve talked about is called FLoC (Federated Learning of Cohorts) and it basically anonymizes your individual user data by pooling your data points with a few thousand other people’s data points. It’s like a (really big) composite character in a TV show, except it’s for advertising and data tracking instead.

3️⃣ But even if Google didn’t have promising alternatives at the ready, dropping individual tracking capabilities still leaves them in a better position than most other advertisers; thanks to dominant Google Search, Alphabet is the Mack Daddy of First-Party Data. So they’ll be just fine, thanks.

And that’s the way the cookie crumbles.

“I see a beautiful website and a brilliant platform rising from this ad-byss — and in their struggles to be truly paid, in their profits and losses, through long, long campaigns to come, I see the eCom of this time […] gradually marketing for itself and filling out.”

🖋 Charles Dickens, A Tale of Two Cookies

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