Cookiepocalypse Now?

The emperor has decided (it did it and announced it more than a year ago) that time has come to publicly recognise that IT IS naked… or more precisely, that all those who use its imperial services are naked. I’m talking about cookies (bold type, my emphasis):

It’s difficult to conceive of the internet we know today (….) without advertising as its economic foundation. But as our industry has strived to deliver relevant ads to consumers across the web, it has created a proliferation of individual user data across thousands of companies, typically gathered through third-party cookies. This has led to an erosion of trust

That’s why last year Chrome announced its intent to remove support for third-party cookies, (…) 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.

People shouldn’t have to accept being tracked across the web in order to get the benefits of relevant advertising. And advertisers don’t need to track individual consumers across the web to get the performance benefits of digital advertising.

And that’s why Google (the emperor) is now betting on a Privacy Sandbox, with privacy preserving API’s and a new technology for interest-based advertising with an ugly name (FLoC, Federated Learning of Cohorts).

Advances in aggregation, anonymization, on-device processing and other privacy-preserving technologies offer a clear path to replacing individual identifiers.

And voilà.

Now everybody is basically doing a couple of things:

  1. One is jumping out the window, saying: we will fight till the end, we will never surrender and the like.
  2. The other is finger pointing and laughing out loud, saying: we told you. You are doomed. Google will continue to track and monitor its customers, i.e. everyone, but it is not going to share its knowledge anymore. Go jump out the window!

Keep calm. It is too soon to say what’s going to actually happen. For three main reasons:

  1. We still have at least one year ahead. (Our intention is to do this within two years, Aug 2019). I would say Google is still calibrating forces and reactions.
  2. Google, like the other emperors of the digital world, has by now proved that you cannot trust them (Can you swallow the cinicism of “People shouldn’t have to accept being tracked across the web in order to get the benefits of relevant advertising?“) . Whatever they say (Apple included), this is a fight about digital power with an eye on the legal battles to come. The battle is big and the rhetoric is getting sharp.
  3. A new technolog has not fully arrived until it does not have a proper, palatable name. (Cookies, not FLoC’s)

In relation to this third consideration, I’m very happy to see that the emperor chose the name Privacy Sandbox for whatever they intend to do. It’s always nice to confirm your foresight capabilities. Mine are alive and kicking… and “my SEO” (yet another emperor’s grace) will likely get a boost.

Let’s stay tuned, eating chocolate chip cookies!

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Featured Image: Apocalypse Now, Final Cut

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