The cookie conundrum: losing third-party trackers could harm your privacy

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Third-party cookies may disappear in 18 months, but will this allow Google declared intentions to create a “more privacy-focused Web?” »

Chris Matty doesn’t think so.

In fact, he thinks the death of small, invasive trackers could paradoxically make our online identities less secure.

And he believes that the motives of Apple and Google, which have argued for an end to this form of passive surveillance, are driven by less altruistic goals than they appear.

Matty is the Founder and Chief Revenue Officer of Version, a business-to-business omnichannel marketing company that profiles online visitors without using cookies. Instead, it harvests data from various third-party sources through a California Consumer Privacy Act-compliant process, then uses deterministic algorithms to make what is essentially an educated guess about visitors’ identities.

Matty thinks the end of third-party cookies will be a boon for tech giants whose reach spans multiple properties.

The losers will be everyone else.

By them selves

With third-party cookies excluded, marketers will be forced to duplicate the data they collect on their own web properties via first-party cookies, which will always be with us.

These are the tracers that you authorize to be installed on your computer when you arrive on a website and one of these messages “this site uses cookies” is presented to you.

The thousands of small website owners who now rely on third-party cookies to identify visitors will have to start collecting more data for themselves.

That means more registration pages, paywalls, and prompts to give information about yourself.

The result will be that “the loss of cookies will actually decrease privacy,” says Matty. “Publishers are going to have to start using closed connections, so they capture an email address.”

This is not a problem for the few giants with a large web footprint.

Think about this: how often do you log into Google or Facebook? Almost never.

Once you log into Google, the company can track you through its search engines, email service, office productivity apps, media sites, and other outposts of its empire.

Theoretically, it can follow you to other properties as well, as long as you’re logged in.

However, independent ad networks will soon not have access to this information, so Google and Facebook will become even more powerful online ad brokers.

Meanwhile, independent sites will be pressured to lock down their content more tightly to encourage registration.

The result will be less free information, more walled gardens, and a greater need for people to keep track of usernames and passwords for all the places they visit.

“It will cost marketers more because [the cost per thousand visitors] will grow,” Matty says. “The cost of marketing will increase as information will be controlled by fewer companies.”

An unpopular alternative

Google has come up with an alternative called Federated Cohort Learning which replaces third-party cookies with anonymized information about groups of people stored in the browser.

Not everyone thinks that’s such a good idea.

“This approach would put the browser at the center of the advertising equation, and Google, it’s no coincidence, is making Chrome the most popular browser in the world,” wrote Adam Tanner, author of two privacy books. line, in a recent Consumer Reports article.

Versium and many other identity technology companies are finding ways to reverse engineer identities without using cookies or compromising privacy.

The company collects data from multiple sources about people who have given permission to share it, then uses predictive algorithms to infer identities.

Matty calls this technique “matching logic”. There are literally hundreds of match codes that we can assign with great confidence,” he said. “We can increase match rates by 10% to 90%.”

In a B2B context, this is valuable for harmonizing personal and professional email addresses. About 70% of LinkedIn profiles are linked to personal email addresses; matching them to a list of business addresses can be a shot in the dark.

Matty says adding opt-in third-party data can solve most of these mysteries.

If a marketer has a personal email address, it can be mapped to a business address by considering other data points like home address and nearby population of people with similar names.

“We can look up a physical address and infer how far they are from a business and thus infer that the person works at that business,” says Matty. “There are literally hundreds of match codes that we can assign with great confidence.”

This means that the end of cookies could trigger an explosion of big data analytics. And guess who has the most popular suite of analytics tools in the cloud?

Yes, it’s Google.

Copyright © 2022 IDG Communications, Inc.

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