Google prepares to toss its cookies

by: Lisa Campolmi

If you keep up with digital advertising, you might have read articles about the upcoming demise of digital cookies. Cookies are small snippets of code (called pixels) that are placed on a website. When you visit that website on your computer, the code is placed onto your device, allowing the website owner to track you and serve advertising directly to you on other websites (called retargeting).

As of January 2020, California and Nevada created new digital privacy laws that will alter user tracking in the future. These laws will take effect in July 2020. While several of the big providers, such as Google, are still hashing out the details, we have enough information to anticipate how the industry will change.

Firefox, Mozilla and Apple have already stopped allowing cookie placements. Google, who owns 87.35 percent of the search market, will phase out cookies over the next two years.

How will this change affect your business?

You will still be able to track and target visitors who sign up and “opt in” to email newsletters or messaging. By 2022, you will not be able to capture data from website visitors (who are using a computer or tablet) for retargeting.

Experts acknowledge this transition will be slow, and new targeting alternatives are likely to become available before the cookie crumbles. Any current retargeting campaigns should continue to run effectively for the next year.

Cookies do not apply to mobile

Clients who have websites with high mobile traffic will be less affected by this change. Only computers and tablets have the ability to collect cookies; mobile devices do not. Mobile devices will continue to be used for retargeting based on their mobile IDs. Many of the respected experts in digital privacy report that they anticipate an eventual change to retargeting mobile devices within the next five years, but this will not apply for some time.

Can we be successful without cookies?

Digital media strategists are already implementing tools to make sure your digital message reaches the right audience at the right time, without cookies. Some of those tools you will hear more about include:

  • An increased move to mobile ID retargeting
  • Place-based geo-fencing (creating a perimeter around a specific location to reach consumers who come into that space)
  • Use of higher quality and trustworthy 1st party data providers (known as PMPs)
  • Utilizing advanced behavioral and contextual targeting (targeting consumers based on the lifestyles, passions or activities online)

Google's announcement took some businesses by surprise, but these new rules will not destroy the success of digital advertising. Educated digital media buyers have a variety of advanced tools to make sure digital advertising remains the most effective use of your business’s budget.

For more information about the strategies listed here, email Lisa Campolmi at

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