My name is Anders and I love to write! My blog is about the potential of a new browser that I think could be the next big thing. But before we get to that let me explain to you why I love writing.
Google has been under fire for its handling of user data in the wake of the Cambridge Analytica scandal. The company has been accused of bullying third-party web analytics companies into continuing to collect user data on Google’s behalf, even after it knew the companies were collecting it without consent. Google is not the only tech giant facing questions about data collection—Apple has been accused by Donald Trump’s administration of unapproved data collection—but the company has taken a leading role in shaping the debate.
- By 2020, most of the $181.7 billion in revenue came from ads on Google’s sites or network.
- Even if third-party cookies are phased out in 2022, the search giant will still have plenty of first-hand data from more than 270 products, services and platforms.
- The Trade Desk’s share price fall of 20% – proof of Google’s monopoly and why it should no longer have one
- Google expert Susan Dolan draws on her wealth of experience to detail the current state of research, draw conclusions, and predict key future themes that will arise from the death of the 3p cookie.
When you think of search as a jungle, you will automatically think of Google as one of the major players in this arena. This has been the reality for decades, and we all know the drawbacks of autonomy, so the industry now recognizes the need for regulation. Google has announced that it will remove third-party cookies from 2022. But a lot can happen in a year, 2020 is proof of that! Does this mean that cookies will finally be forgotten? Think about it. I dove into my years of online experience to share some thoughts, observations and ideas on what this really means.
For once, Google was behind.
Given the monopoly that Google enjoys and the list of lawsuits (antitrust and others), this is a regulatory measure to create a less network-like environment that seeks transparency and equality among search engines. But Firefox and Safari are already ahead of Google in 2019 and 2020, respectively. Safari has the 23. In March 2020, the Intelligent Tracking Prevention (ITP) update for Safari was introduced. Firefox introduced enhanced tracking protection in September 2019 to improve functionality and protect users from third-party tracking cookies and cryptocurrencies.
Google’s decision to respect user privacy
Google recently announced that it will no longer use logins. Google is developing a privacy sandbox for publishers, advertisers and consumers to balance control, access and tracking of data. The idea is to protect anonymity while providing results for advertisers and publishers. The Privacy Sandbox will make use of the FLoC API, which can be useful for interest-based advertising. Google does not use fingerprints or PII numbers based on the email addresses of people who use other browsers. Google will move to a public model similar to that of Facebook, which aggregates users for profiling purposes. Did that raise any eyebrows? And that’s not all.
Don’t be fooled – they still have a generous distribution of data from the first batch
Google already has a wealth of historical, individual and unique data that it has stored, analyzed, predicted and mastered across all its platforms and services over the years. These statistics give a clear indication of the seriousness of the situation:
- Google has more than 270 products and services (Source)
- Of the major search engines, Google had a global market share of nearly 86% in January 2021 (source).
- In 2020, most of the $181.7 billion in revenue came from ads served by Google or Google Network Sites (source).
- There are 246 million unique Google users in the United States (source).
- Google Photos has over 1 billion active users (source)
- YouTube has over 1.9 billion monthly active users (source)
- According to Google’s statistics, Gmail has over 1.5 billion active users (Source).
- A lesser known fact: Google Ads has more than two million accounts (source)
- More than 2.9 million businesses use one or more of Google’s marketing services (source)
- By January 2021, Google had captured 72% of the global smartphone operating system market with Android (source).
- Google performs 3.5 billion searches per day and 1.2 trillion searches per year worldwide (source)
Google has a seemingly endless array of products, services and platforms. Here’s the full and exhaustive list of Google’s giant screen. Source: Matrics360 Google already has access to yours:
- Search history
- Credit/debit card information sent to Google Pay.
- Data of companies (more than 2,9 million!) using Google
- Your device’s microphone
- Mobile keyboard (G-board)
- Applications downloaded from the Google Playstore and made available to you
- The camera system, and this is not even the tip of the iceberg…
Google’s decision to remove third-party cookies caused The Trade Desk’s shares to fall by 20%
No one should have a monopoly, and this case is clear proof of that. Google’s decision to scrap the 3p cookie has shaken up The Trade Desk’s share price, resulting in a 20% drop. The Trade Desk is the largest on-demand platform (DSP), and Google’s solution eliminates the demand for The Trade Desk’s patented Unified ID 1.0 (UID 1.0), a unique asset that eliminates the cookie synchronization process and offers up to 99% match accuracy. Google’s statement not to use PII also threatens the fate of The Trade Desk’s Unified ID 2.0, which already has more than 50 million users. Here’s what Dave Pickles, co-founder and CTO of The Trade Desk, said, Unified ID 2.0 is an industry-wide collaboration involving publishers, advertisers and all players in the ad-tech ecosystem. UID is an opportunity to engage with consumers and provide them with the transparency we as an industry have long sought. At Adweek’s town conference in March, advertisers and publishers were haunted by the mystery surrounding Google, as Google declined to attend the event. There is growing concern in the industry that Google is using this situation to gain a new dominant position for its own benefit.
We like cookies (only if they are on the plate)
Cookies are annoying because they leave crumbs all over the internet ….! Did you know that this is how people feel when they are followed online?
- 72% of people believe that almost everything they do online is tracked by advertisers, technology companies or other businesses.
- 81% stated that the potential risks of data collection outweigh the benefits.
This data is from the Pew Research Center, but ironically I found it on one of the Google blogs. Looking for a way to escape those cookies or to understand what the world’s biggest cookie jar is, I turned to YouTube, which with over 1.9 billion monthly active users seemed like a good place to start. You can check out this link to see how ads are personalized for you – the list goes on and on! Curiosity of YouTube led me to this page to see how my cookies are used (they can be deselected). Even my least used account had 129 pages in that list, imagine how many pages have access to your data right now. When I first cracked the page rank algorithm in 2011, I could already guess Google’s power and where the giant was headed: the playing field just wasn’t big enough. Ultimately, the death of the cookie paves the way for transparent advertising and a user-centric, privacy-friendly web experience. This is what I plan for research and digital:
- Focus on ethical consumers
- Adtech companies work together to find ways to respect their audiences’ privacy
- A more private and personalised web
- More discussion about the amount and type of data collection that is ethical.
- More choices under the user manual
- Increasing use of alternative browsers
- Encouraging users to provide their data voluntarily
- More effective use of technology for
What do you think of the current internet climate? Join the conversation with me at @GoogleExpertUK. Susan Dolan is a search engine optimization consultant who first cracked Google’s PageRank algorithm, which was confirmed by Eric Schmidt’s office in 2014. Susan is also CEO of The Peoples Hub, which was founded to help people and love the planet.
Frequently Asked Questions
What will replace 3rd party cookies?
One of the most common concerns about Google’s third-party cookie death is that websites will need to be completely rebuilt to adopt a new set of cookies. The reality is that this isn’t the case at all. Instead, this change will simply require websites to adopt a new method of storing cookies. In the last several years, the web has become increasingly personal. Websites require users to give them permission to store information on their computers, and users are becoming increasingly aware of the privacy implications of this practice. However, there is one area where users have little control over the data being stored by third-party sites. As it stands, users are powerless when it comes to preventing their web browser from being hijacked by third-parties, through the use of “cookies”—small files sent by websites to user’s browsers.
Are third-party cookies going away?
Google announced yesterday that it will be simplifying the process of managing cookies by dissolving the ability of advertisers to place third-party cookies on the user’s device. This new policy will mean that ads will be more targeted and less obtrusive. However, it will also mean that the ability to place third-party cookies will be lost by default. This is a big change for the web. What does this mean for the users and the advertisers? Since the introduction of the new WebKit browser engine in 2014, web developers have been able to use the unique capabilities of the technology to create a richer, more immersive web experience. For developers, WebKit is a very exciting technology, and it is our focus moving forward. We are striving to deliver the best user experience possible for all of our users, and we are making it easier than ever for developers to build on top of our open source WebKit browser engine.
Should I block 3rd party cookies?
Google announced yesterday that beginning for some users of the Chrome browser, it will start blocking all third-party cookies by default. This means that if you’re going to use third-party analytics tools, you’ll need to check the “allow all cookies” box on your Chrome browser’s settings page. This is all part of a “Do Not Track” pilot program that Google rolled out in June. The company said it will start looking at the data that third-party tools collect and use to make decisions about which ads to show users. Google’s recent browser push to limit third-party cookies in hopes of improving user experience and security has some users rejoicing. But before you get too excited, it is also worth taking a look at the downsides of allowing third-party cookies to remain.