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OPLIN 4cast #356: Will cookies be replaced?

Posted in 4cast

broken cookieTwo years ago, we wrote about zombie cookies (the web kind) that won’t die and continue to track Internet users despite efforts to kill them. Last Friday, the Washington Post ran an article about the probable collapse of the working group affiliated with the World Wide Web Consortium that was supposed to set up Do Not Track standards. And rumors also began to surface last month about new technologies that would replace the cookie and track users in new ways for which there would be no immediate remedy. If this makes you uncomfortable, you’ll be really thrilled to learn that the companies pushing the efforts to replace cookies are some of the giants of the Internet.

  • A Google cookie replacement could upend online advertising (Ad Age/Tim Peterson)  “Third-party cookies are already endangered. First-party cookies come directly from the sites you visit, but third-party cookies are placed by others. The “Do Not Track” movement now causing so much conflict is predicated on making it harder for companies to use third-party cookies to follow consumers around the web and serve ads based on their behavior.”
  • Replacement for tracking cookies could have big impact (San Jose Mercury News/Larry Magid)  “Web operators that use cookies will not only deny that they can identify actual users, but will also fire back that the ability to target ads is essential for them to make the money they need to offer the services we want. And they have a point. We all love being able to read news, conduct searches and do our research, without having to fork over a credit card. Collectively, companies spend billions of dollars to offer these free services and they have to recoup that investment.”
  • Microsoft joins the anti-cookie movement, working on its own replacement (Marketing Land/Ginny Marvin)  “Microsoft and Google both have said their efforts in this area are in early stages. Still, the move toward proprietary technology by a handful of behemoths — Google, Apple, Facebook and Microsoft among them — gives pause to many in the industry. Not only would these companies have insight into the data generated from their tracking technologies, there is the potential these companies could hoard advertiser data.”
  • Google may ditch ‘cookies’ as online ad tracker (USA Today/Alistair Barr)  “The Interactive Advertising Bureau, which represents the industry, at least wants some type of tracking technology available for advertisers, whether third-party cookies or something else, said Mike Zaneis, the group’s general counsel. However, leaving such ad identifiers in the hands of a few large companies is not ideal, he added. ‘They could deprecate the use of that ID on a whim, basically, and severely undermine billions of dollars in digital ad spending,’ Zaneis said.”

Mobile fact:
These big companies are not replacing their tracking technology just because they don’t like cookies. They’re looking for something different because third-party cookies don’t work on mobile devices, and mobile devices currently account for about a fifth of all web traffic.