The Death of the Third-Party Cookie: Google’s 2022 Phase-Out

It’s February of 2020: the Covid-19 Pandemic hasn’t yet reached its staggering peak, Facebook was still called Facebook, and no one knew what a “No Bones Day” was.

In the advertising and digital marketing world, however, February 2020 was a shocking time period due to Google’s announcement that they were phasing out third-party cookies. Many assumed there would be another identifier that can similarly track web browsers in the same way third-party cookies can, but Google has recently announced they won’t be building one, creating confusion for advertisers everywhere. With this phase-out, Google will change the way we use cookies and Google-ad tracking in the future.

Let’s take a look at what exactly a cookie is, the changes that will occur in 2022, and how marketers are preparing for this. 

What is a Cookie?

If you’re unfamiliar with what a cookie is and how it works, let’s begin by breaking down its very important function in digital marketing. There are three types of cookies: first-party, second-party, and third-party.

These three types of cookies help brands track website traffic, improve user experience (UX), and gather data to improve ad targeting for their desired audience.

Here’s a breakdown of each cookie. 

First-Party Cookie

A first-party cookie is directly stored by the website you’re visiting. For example, a first-party cookie on Amazon would be user sign-in. When an individual saves their sign-in information on an ecommerce website, their first-party cookies will save this data so that you don’t have to re-sign-in every time you open the browser.

First-party cookies, like this, allow website owners to not only gather data, but improve user experience and remember language settings. 

Second-Party Cookie

Second-party cookies are a bit different to first and third-party cookies in that technically, it’s not really considered a cookie.

These cookies are sold or transferred from one company to another. A common example of this is the partnership between airlines and hotels. An airline company can sell the data gathered by their first-party cookies to a hotel who can then use that information for ad targeting. 

Third-Party Cookie

Third-party cookies are typically used for online-advertising purposes and are created by a separate or “third-party” domain.

Using the previous ecommerce examples, these cookies track a website visitor’s purchases (or non-purchases) and uses that data to later send advertisements that are similar to what they bought. (Ex: an individual looks at, but doesn’t buy a brown jacket and later receives marketing emails about that brown jacket.)  

Why Google is Phasing Out the Third-Party Cookie

Google announced the phase out in February of 2020 and stated that the reason behind this had to do with user privacy.

"Users are demanding greater privacy – including transparency, choice, and control over how their data is used – and it’s clear the web ecosystem needs to evolve to meet these increasing demands.”

Google Chrome isn’t the first browser to do this (Firefox and Safari have already phased out third-party cookies), however they do make up more than 56% of the web browser market. As these three leaders in the web-browsing world are phasing out three-party cookies, publications are calling this the, “death of the third-party cookie.”

How to Prepare for This Phase-Out

While this may be shocking to advertisers and marketers, the Firefox and Safari third-party cookie phase out has meant there’s less of a cause for concern.

Professionals in the field of advertising, marketing, and data engineering are already looking for alternative advertising tools and solutions to collect data without interfering with user privacy. For example, a few of these alternatives, include:

  • Privacy Sandbox
  • Contextual Advertising
  • APIs

Google Cookie Phase-Out FAQs

Here are a few FAQs regarding Google’s phase out of the third-party cookie. 

Is Google banning all cookies?

No. According to Google, they are only planning to phase out third-party cookies. Google will still keep using first-party cookies to track necessary data.

Will Google stop tracking people fully?

No. Google will start implementing tracking technology that targets cohorts of people rather than individuals. 

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About Author

Stephanie Strok
Stephanie is a content specialist at Americaneagle.com and graduated with a degree in advertising from Columbia College Chicago. Her focus is content strategy and loves to find new ways to implement SEO and brand voice into her writing. When she’s not writing or doing research, you can find Stephanie in her kitchen baking bread, on Duolingo learning French, or frequenting new coffee shops in Chicago with her fiancé.


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