google, third-party cookies, guidelines, affiliate, data collection, first-party data

Google Cookie Changes and Impact on Affiliates

Google plans to phase out third-party cookies in Chrome completely by the third quarter of 2024. This follows a trial phase from January 4th, 2024, impacting 1% of users. Google is advising developers to adapt their websites to function without third-party cookies in accordance with their guidelines.

Impact on Digital Marketers

The phasing out of third-party cookies in Chrome will have significant implications for marketers:

1. Data Collection and Personalisation: 

Marketers have traditionally relied on third-party cookies for tracking user behaviour across different websites. This helps in collecting data for targeted advertising and personalising user experiences. With the removal of these cookies, marketers will need to find alternative ways to gather this information.

2. Shift to First-Party Data: 

There will be an increased emphasis on first-party data, which is data collected directly from users through interactions with a brand’s own digital properties (like their website or app). Marketers will need to strengthen their strategies to collect and utilise this type of data.

3. Privacy-Focused Marketing: 

The change aligns with a broader industry shift towards enhancing user privacy. Marketers will need to adapt by developing strategies that respect user privacy and comply with regulations like GDPR and CCPA.

4. Rise of Contextual Advertising: 

Without third-party cookies, contextual advertising, which targets ads based on the content of the website rather than user behaviour, may see a resurgence.

5. Adopting New Technologies: 

Marketers might need to invest in new technologies and platforms that offer alternative tracking and targeting methods, like Customer Data Platforms (CDPs) or new identifiers that are privacy-compliant.

6. Impact on ROI Measurement: 

Measuring the return on investment (ROI) of marketing campaigns might become more challenging without third-party cookies. Marketers will need to develop new metrics and methods to evaluate the effectiveness of their campaigns.

7. Increased Collaboration with Publishers: 

Marketers may need to work more closely with publishers and other partners to access their first-party data for targeted advertising.

8. Adapting to Browser-Based Changes: 

Marketers must stay informed about changes in browser policies (not just Chrome but also others like Firefox and Safari) and adapt their strategies accordingly.


Impact on Affiliate Marketing

The elimination of third-party cookies in Chrome will also significantly impact affiliate marketing in several ways:

1. Tracking Challenges: 

Affiliate marketing heavily relies on cookies to track user clicks and purchases. Without third-party cookies, tracking the user journey from an affiliate link to a purchase becomes more complex. This could affect the accuracy of attributing sales to the correct affiliate.

2. Reliance on First-Party Data: 

Affiliates and merchants will need to shift towards using first-party data for tracking. This might involve more direct integrations between affiliate websites and merchant sites to ensure that user actions are tracked correctly.

3. Changes in Attribution Models: 

The traditional attribution models used in affiliate marketing may need to be revised. There could be a shift towards more deterministic models (based on known user interactions) rather than probabilistic models (based on inferred data from cookies).

4. Increased Importance of Content and Trust: 

With tracking becoming more difficult, the value of content-driven affiliate marketing may increase. Affiliates who create high-quality, trustworthy content could see more direct traffic and engagement, reducing reliance on cookie-based tracking.

5. Adoption of Alternative Technologies: 

Affiliates and affiliate networks may need to adopt new technologies or methods for tracking and attributing sales. This could include using unified IDs, browser fingerprinting, or more sophisticated link tracking methods that don’t rely on third-party cookies.

6. Privacy Compliance and Transparency: 

Affiliates will need to be more transparent about data collection and comply with privacy laws. This may involve obtaining explicit consent from users for any data collection that does occur.

7. Potential Impact on Revenue: 

The effectiveness of affiliate marketing strategies may initially decrease as the industry adapts to these changes, potentially impacting revenue. However, this can also be an opportunity for innovation and finding new ways to engage users.

8. Partnership Dynamics: 

The relationships between affiliates, affiliate networks, and merchants may evolve. There could be a greater emphasis on collaboration and sharing first-party data in a privacy-compliant way to ensure the effectiveness of affiliate marketing.


In Conclusion…

Although the removal of third-party cookies presents challenges for affiliate marketing, it also encourages the industry to evolve towards more privacy-friendly and user-centric approaches. This evolution may lead to more sustainable and trustworthy affiliate marketing practices in the long term.


Catch-up on our Cookie Deprecation Webinar: Recap from Q4 of 2023 here. Lee-Ann Johnstone sat down with Cellxpert Founder Assaf Dor to discuss the impact that third-party cookie deprecation will have on the affiliate marketing industry.


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