3rd party cookies are going away, forever. If you don’t understand what it means, browsers will no longer allow any third parties to track you. Safari, Mozilla and Brave already block these 3rd party cookies and Chrome has also given a 2022 deadline. By 2022, 90% of web-traffic will be blocked from getting tracked by 3rd party cookies.
As soon as I wrote that, I realized that it sounds like a great thing for privacy proponents. And it probably is. Big tech giants including Apple, Facebook & Google are rooting for it. However, do you think they are doing that for altruistic reasons? Because they care about privacy of the users? Or do you think they are far more likely to root for something for capitalist reasons? Here’s what’s happening.
Why Giants Love It
Facebook, Google and Apple have insane amount of first party data. They have locked-in users that they can directly track using their own platforms. First party cookies can not and are not going anywhere. So they are counting on the fact that all the small guys will be crushed by the apocalypse, giving these tech giants more control and bigger market share than before.
Not only that, Facebook & Google have already worked a work-around to track all outbound traffic generated from their websites by passing on a parameter (FBCLID & GCLID). So they can continue to track users on many websites as long as the user is referred via their platforms, all without 3rd party cookies.
What Happens to Small Guys
If you’re an independent publisher, I have bad news for you. I know you already feel bad about your business with ad blockers killing you for years, reduced affiliate commissions, and a broken subscription model. Making money as an independent content creator is hard. Unless you embrace the platforms.
If you’re a creator on YouTube, you’re good. You publish and monetize the content within the Google eco-system, there’s no problem for you. If you’re a content creator on Facebook and Instagram, your problems are taken care of too. But if you’re an independent creator outside of these platforms, then hell is ready to break loose on you. Your declining ad-performance is going to get worse. Unless of course, your textual content embraces Facebook instant articles or Google’s AMP. Or you have a successful subscription model.
Cost of Advertising on Facebook & Google
As these platforms prepare to take a larger market-share because of better tracking, ease of finding relevant customers because of tracking, and a better conversion attribution, more and more brands and marketers will endorse advertising on these platforms pushing the CPMs through the roof. 3rd party advertising will prepare for death.
While this seems great for privacy of users, I don’t think it presents any significant improvement. It only blocks tracking for small guys and independent creators. Nothing changes for Google, Facebook or other tech giants.
If you’re an independent creator outside of these platforms, you have less than 2 years to make a transition to serve content & find audience on these platforms. If you don’t intend to do that, you should transition to subscription model. If you plan to continue to monetize with advertising, you should create a lock-in with your users for first-party tracking and sell advertising directly.