It’s the end of cookies, but targeted online ads aren’t going anywhere

Following Apple’s lead, as usual, Google said this week that it will eliminate its use of third-party cookies in its Chrome browser over the next year, ending that form of user tracking, but targeted ads aren’t going anywhere.

ad tracking

Timothy L. O’Brien for Bloomberg:

That doesn’t mean Google won’t continue scooping up first-party information it collects directly from users when they visit sites and services it controls. It also doesn’t mean that all of the machinery elsewhere that identifies the web’s denizens and serves them ads and other solicitations tailored to their specific interests is going to evaporate.

But it does mean that a very particular and early chapter in the internet era is coming to an end. That era was defined by computer-based web browsers made potent by a number of innovations, with cookies being, perhaps, first among equals. Cookies allowed a browser to remember its users, making the web much easier to navigate. They also helped popularize and commercialize the web, ultimately spawning, alas, a universe in which personal privacy was easily compromised and the same ad for beautiful leather boots, pop-ups, notifications and other flotsam clung to users wherever they went…

Google emerged as a colossus in that world until the social-media revolution turned Facebook into a viable competitor. Google and Facebook jointly inhaled nearly three-quarters of the $300 billion spent on web advertising in 2020, according to the World Advertising Research Council. Now, with regulators worldwide cracking down on Google, Facebook and other tech giants over privacy concerns and anticompetitive behavior, the cookie has landed on the chopping block…

Marketers have been bracing for this moment for years and have already developed alternatives to cookies that will allow them to continue tracking how people journey around the web — albeit with less specifics about what each individual is up to across a multitude of sites.

MacDailyNews Take: Along with Apple’s planned Identifier for Advertisers (IDFA) privacy update to iOS 14 which allows users to decide whether to allow tracking in apps, we’re interested to see if, as expected, the number of users opting out can somehow help to improve competition in online advertising that’s been negatively impacting the industry (and sites, like ours, that depend on sponsors’ ads to operate) for years.


  1. Corporations, entrepreneurs, and companies that create products and services but fail to sell then in sufficient quantities because of their inferior, hence undesirable qualities will continue to depend on stealing private data but in novel, creative, and spooky ways, perhaps by paying off legislators to pass corporate-spy-friendly legislation.

  2. Not sure how big an impact this is for websites that work as web apps. Cookies were meant to retain user info across webpages (and possibly sites). With recent web technologies many tasks are performed on a single page with client-side code that only transfers data between the client browser and the server and updating the display without leaving the original page. This eliminates the need for cookies and still allows the site/page owner to accumulate user usage info while on the page.

    The biggest impact IMO would be for those hackers that somehow access those 3rd party cookies that remain in your browsers’ cache.

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