The UEAT Blog

What you need to know about Google’s cookie policy change

Posted on
June 21, 2023
Google cookie policy
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When is Google’s upcoming cooking policy change?

Although Google announced the changes of its cookie policy in January 2020, it was not scheduled to come into effect until at least 2022, and has since then been pushed back to 2023. They are currently on track to ensure their blocking of third-party cookies will be completed by this time. This gives restaurateurs more time to prepare and find alternative ways to get insights and data related to customer behavior.

Although this might seem like a trailblazing decision, the truth of the matter is that other web browsers have already initiated such policies. For example, Firefox got rid of all third-party cookies in 2019.

 

What is Google changing in its cookies policy?

The Google cookie policy change is going to see huge, widespread cookie changes as all third-party cookies will be removed from the Google chrome browser.

Cookies are small morsels of data that are downloaded onto your computer every time you search or enter a website. Once on your computer, these cookies begin to make up a profile of your internet usage and are used to make your user experience more seamless and tailored to your specific needs. Once your cookies are collected, they are sent and stored in Google analytics for future use.

Currently, third-party online advertising operators and firms are collecting information from the browsing history of every Google chrome internet user. However, Google wants to get rid of these third-party companies and the data collected by them and construct somewhat of a monopoly on their users’ data. In order to do this, Google has chosen to completely block third-party cookies.

What does this mean for restaurants? Basically, restaurants that rely on third-party data to customize their customer experience will have to find new ways to acquire customer data. Keep on reading to find out alternative solutions to personalize your customer journey. What will replace Google cookies?

Google will replace third-party ads with an artificial intelligence (AI) system. This AI system is called the Federal Learning of Cohorts (FLoC). FLoC will work by grouping together users who have similar interests online as well as similar Google searches and internet activity.

People with similar interests will be grouped together so that companies can buy targeted ads for specific groups of people. This consolidates Google’s monopoly on personal internet usage data as it removes the third-party cookies that would otherwise be selling this information to advertising companies. Instead, Google is going to be gatekeeping all the data it receives from users and selling it, putting many third-party companies who sold cookie-related data out of business.

 

Why is Google phasing out cookies?

The two main reasons Google is phasing out cookies are to improve user privacy and solidify its stronghold on the advertising market.

Many people dislike the individual tracking that occurs with third-party cookies as they believe it is an invasion of their privacy. Cookies work by collecting and storing personal data with the intention of showing users ads that are related to their interests and therefore incite them to buy.

Moreover, moving from third-party data cookies to FLoC will allow Google to have more control over the data collected. This will provide the company with a stronger hold and influence on the advertisement industry.

 

How long will it take for Google’s changes to be effective ?

As previously mentioned, it was Google’s plan to have the new cookie policy and all the relevant changes come into full effect by 2022. However, they have recently de-escalated this timeline and are now expecting all changes to take place by 2023 instead.

The main reason the projected 2022 date has been postponed is due to problems with FLoC. Whilst it appears a brilliant alternative that keeps everyone happy, there are still some key problems with it. FLoC is a win-win situation for both the user and companies as individuals retain their anonymity through the group specifications and companies still get to benefit from some form of targeted ads, even if they are group-based and not individual.

FLoC does not get rid of all targeted ads, it just adds more anonymity. Many users were and are still not satisfied with this level of privacy which is why Google has had to delay its projected date. Since Safari and Firefox have already gotten rid of third-party cookies, it gives Google a reason and incentive to strive to have its new cookie policy in effect by 2023.

 

Who will Google’s cookie policy changes affect?

Google’s new cookie policy changes affect different kinds of people, businesses and subsectors of the technological community as well as the public. Here are the main groups of people who will feel the effect of Google’s policy changes:

Advertisers

Since the change in the cookie policy mostly affects advertisements and targeted ads, the people who are going to feel the majority of the effects are advertisers. Third-party targeted ads offered businesses such as restaurants an extremely accurate and specific view of their target market and how they should be advertising products to them.

Now, advertisers will only get an insight into a group’s interest as opposed to an individual’s interest. This means that whilst their ads might still interest some people in the group, others might not be interested in what they are selling, which will make their advertisements less effective.

Businesses in different industries will be affected by this change in cookie policy. In the food and beverage industry, restaurants will have to adapt their marketing strategy and find solutions such as implementing online ordering or developing their own custom mobile app in order to collect first party data and stop relying on third party data to get customer insights.

Google users

Given that Google processes around 40,000 searches per second, the individuals using the platform are inevitably going to be affected by the changes in its cookie policy. Although many people who use Google are completely oblivious to the existence of cookies, some have partial knowledge of their presence and others know everything about them.

Whilst those who are oblivious to cookies will likely remain oblivious to the changes, those that are aware of cookies and know what they do will likely be pleased that Google is making the change. Third-party cookies have often been considered one of the worst breaches of privacy on the internet. Many do not like the level of data that cookies collect and the storing of such personal information makes people nervous. An example of this is restaurant consumers who will no longer see ads from restaurateurs who relied on third party data for pubs. They will now have to rely on first party data to personalize their marketing campaigns.

Despite the benefit of more privacy with Google’s new proposed group system, some people are worried that it will inevitably lead to discrimination issues. Grouping people together is a dangerous territory as Google might inadvertently start grouping people together according to gender, race and sexual orientation. Although it will be a win for user privacy, some individuals might begin to see a negative change in their targeted ads which may cause problems in the future for both users and Google.

Google

Obviously, Google will be affected by this change in policy in a positive way. Whilst Google already owns a large share of the overall revenue generated by online advertising, the profit generated by Google ads will inevitably increase.

Companies that want their targeted ads to appear on websites are going to have to buy the right to do so from Google. As you can imagine, this change in policy will increase Google’s monopoly over the advertisement industry and ultimately increase its profits.

 

How is the cookie policy change going to affect restaurant businesses?

Just like every other industry, the restaurant industry will be affected by the cookie policy change. Instead of advertising to people you know are specifically interested in your business, your ads will be distributed to a whole group of people who may or may not be interested in trying out your restaurant.

The data collected by Google will no longer be as specific. Right now, cookies can be generated and stored if users search for your restaurant. With the current cookie system, if they are browsing online, a targeted ad might appear for your restaurant so that they are reminded of you.

With the new system, however, your ads will be sent to a whole group of people who have a similar search and browsing history. This could therefore mean that you’re a BBQ restaurant whose ads are being sent to vegetarians who have no interest, desire or intention to actually visit your restaurant but are seeing your ads.

This could negatively affect restaurant businesses. In order to minimize the negative effects that these changes might have on your business, it is wise to invest in areas where you know you can maximize your profits such as online ordering and delivery. Now is a great moment to reassess your strategy and update your delivery services and the way in which you operate so that you make sure you can reach a maximum of potential customers.

 

How should restaurants prepare for Google’s cookie policy change?

Focus on first party data

With user privacy becoming more and more important and with the new ad options that are going to replace third party cookies, restaurants should develop a first-party data strategy to collect valuable data from their customers. Focusing on opt-in data is a great way to gain insights about customer behavior while still respecting the privacy laws in place.

Instead of always keeping up to date with changes in privacy rules, restaurants should perfect their existing data that they collect from their most captive customers. To grow their opt-in list, restaurant owners should develop their loyalty program as well as get a custom mobile app tailored to their brand. This way, customers can easily order food but they also actively engage with your offers and content.

Don’t overlook personalized marketing

Now that your first-party data strategy is in place, it only makes sense to take advantage of it for personalized marketing. Nowadays customers want to feel a connection with brands and a great way for restaurants to strengthen their relationships with clients is to use data to analyze past interactions and develop custom campaigns based off of this information. After all, custom campaigns are a lot more convincing than general ones.

A great way to personalize the customer experience effortlessly is by leveraging artificial intelligence. With UEAT’s online ordering platform or mobile app, restaurants have access to RAI™, a smart recommendation module, which automatically remembers customers’ orders and makes upselling easy by recommending items that customers love.

 

Overview

Whilst Google’s cookie policy change is big news in the tech industry, there is a good chance that it will go unnoticed amongst regular Google chrome users, despite the fact that it will have huge repercussions for businesses in different industries.

Google’s choice to remove third-party cookies from their browsers and websites was realistically always an inevitable eventuality. Their competitors, Firefox and Safari, already made the move to completely or partially remove third-party cookies so it was just a matter of time before Google followed in their footsteps.

How exactly its variation of third-party cookies is going to be is still to be determined, especially now that they have moved the completion date to 2023 and that their new Federal Learning of Cohorts system is being brought into question.

Regardless of how they choose to do it, what is certain is that Google’s cookie policy is going to change in the next two years. These new changes will see a large number of businesses feel the effects as targeted ads may very well become less effective. Companies should therefore start looking for alternative ways to increase their profit margins and collect data from customers!

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