You may have heard that cookies are dying – or already dead. Recent privacy laws like the European Union’s General Data Protection Regulation (GDPR) and the California Consumer Privacy Act (CCPA) have already restricted how companies can collect browsing data and how much they can share with third parties. Now, marketers and e-commerce companies are looking into new solutions to provide personalized content, products and services without violating privacy rules.
Third-party cookies are set by other websites to track your internet activity. For example, Facebook can access cookies that other websites placed on your computer to view a larger picture of your browsing history and optimize your advertising. If you have been searching for hotels in Madrid, for example, you might notice ads for the next few days about traveling to Spain. In this case, your web browser is using data from third-party cookies to feed you relevant ads.
For the past decade, cookies have been an essential part of understanding user behavior and serving relevant ad content. As of August 2020, about 80% of all marketers were very or somewhat reliant on third-party cookies.
However, cookies have become controversial in recent years for collecting private information without express consent. The passage of laws like GDPR and CCPA have created penalties for failing to inform users of cookies and requirements to provide transparent information on what data is collected and how it’s used.
In addition to government regulations, browsers like Firefox and Safari have already banned third-party cookies. Google’s Chrome browser, used by over 3 billion people worldwide, will ban these cookies by late 2023. Already, users are prompted to accept or deny cookies on many sites when using the Chrome platform.
In the face of these changes, marketers are searching for new solutions to provide relevant advertising content while meeting privacy requirements.
Unified ID 2.0 (UID 2.0) is an open-source framework that establishes website user identities without third-party cookies. Unlike cookies, UID 2.0 cannot be used without a user’s consent. Users provide their email address, which is then used to create a unique, encrypted number.
Unified IDs operate like cookies to track consumer behavior over multiple sites, but they meet the new requirements for obtaining user consent and opt-out options. Additionally, since they only require one sign-in, they last longer than cookies and can provide more accurate data to marketers.
However, some marketers are concerned that fewer individuals will consent to creating a Unified ID. Additionally, it’s still unclear whether Unified IDs will work on Chrome, which announced it would not use email addresses to track users. The single sign-on framework is also a source of concern, as it removes the need for each website to ask for users’ consent without explicitly stating how many parties can access their data.
The answer is still unclear. The Trade Desk, the creator of UID 2.0, is just now looking to launch in Europe, which could be a big test of its staying power. Moving forward, the marketing industry will be watching to see whether it receives widespread adoption. Regardless of the solution, B2B marketers using third-party cookies will need to search for new solutions to get their messages to the right audiences.
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Theresa Colston is a Senior Account Executive at Mulberry Marketing Communications, an award-winning full-service B2B communications agency based in Chicago, London and Australia. She enjoys developing creative marketing ideas and building connections to drive results for clients.