Cover Story: That's the Way the Cookie Crumbles

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The fate of the digital advertising and marketing industry is up in the air

With the phasing out of third-party cookies, the rise of Web 3.0 and the metaverse, as well as diminished trust in digital advertising among consumers, the industry is trying to figure out how best to deliver meaningful personalisation to consumers while protecting users’ data when surfing the web.

Essentially, HTTP cookies, or internet cookies, are not dangerous. They are small, randomly encoded text files that make e-commerce affordable for businesses by storing data on site visits on users’ computers instead of on company servers. For example, cookies allow users to keep their shopping carts full despite multiple visits and remember their login preferences.

The concern is with third-party cookies. While first-party cookies connect users to a single website by holding on to some personal information to make the website easier to use, third-party cookies allow the tracking of users’ shopping or other activity across the internet.

Following decades of data sharing and privacy concerns, big tech companies are now phasing out third-party cookies. Apple has led the browser privacy conversation since 2017, when it added the Intelligent Tracking Prevention (ITP) feature to its Safari browser. By March 2020, ITP updates had made Safari capable of blocking all third-party cookies. That same year, Google announced that it would stop supporting third-party cookies on its Chrome browser by end-2023.

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