• Michael Weeding

Mozilla will block third party cookies by default, should we stay calm or panic?


The news that Mozilla will block third party cookies by default in a planned update of Firefox has appeared to have sent some into a complete state of panic. If cookies are a viable technology that help enable the economics of the ad-supported web what does this decision mean? Will this take control from the ad networks and put it directly into the hands of publishers or are they just too many advertisers who have created an unnecessary attachment to third party cookies? Here are some points that I pulled together on this topic that may either calm you down or make you panic:

Stay Calm because:

Cookies are not effective for tracking across multiple devices. If you are planning to use cookies to track cross channel modelling the good news that there are already better ways.

Safari has always blocked third party cookies by default for over a decade. Don’t despair, with iOS 6 Apple has started tracking users through a new tracking technology called IFA (Identifier for Advertisers) so that advertisers can target them again. When you look at an app, or browse the web, your presence generates a call for an ad allowing the advertiser to target a specific ad based on a user’s behaviour.

Traditional advertising formats in the online channel (namely banner ads or display advertising) continue to provide weaker results for advertisers. There are new digital marketing opportunities to explore, let’s take “native advertising” as an example. This only appeared as a topic late last year and whilst many are struggling to understand how this differs from an advertorial or content marketing do not let this be a deterrent, it is an opportunity that you can explore that does not rely on third party cookies. The most common native advertising opportunities comes from promoted tweets on Twitter or buying reach on Facebook.

Start to panic because:

Third party cookies have allowed advertisers to target a large number of users at lower prices. With less third party cookies being available this could push up prices and erode the results of targeting or remarketing.

Microsoft attempted to roll out its DNT (Do Not Track) with the launch of Internet Explorer 10, only to have advertisers angered by the move noting that while they would be happy to ignore users who chose privacy they did not want this choice made for them by Microsoft. As a result, DNT is now just a flag that it asks advertisers to honour, which of course they have refused. I cannot see Mozilla following the same route as Microsoft, so just because other have attempted to introduce default privacy controls and have failed should not be reason for maintaining calm in this situation.

Whatever your state of mind the only reassurance I can give you is that there is going to be a lot of debate on this topic in the coming year. I would be interested to hear you views?

#Mozilla #DataPrivacy