What the Uncertain Future of Cookies Might Mean for Digital Business in Canada

Apr 10, 2020
2 min read
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What the Uncertain Future of Cookies Might Mean for Digital Business in Canada

If you don’t work a lot within the digital realm, you are probably entirely unaware of a significant change coming. Digital advertising is set to be turned completely upside down. Everything about the way that online advertising and marketing is conducted today will be irrevocably changed. We are on the precipice of a new, cookie-less world.

The debate around online privacy is not new. It has been raging for years. How much of your personal information are you willing to sacrifice to receive: ads that are targeted to your interests, free use of platforms and websites, and access to search engines? This has been the question at the heart of this debate for years. But recently, privacy advocates have started to ask how much do people know they are already sacrificing to operate in this digital world? When everyday consumers are shown just how much advertisers know about them, their interests, their location, and even their movements, they are often appalled and even frightened.

Corporations have been able to gather a great deal of this information through the use of cookies. A cookie is, basically, a piece of data sent from the website and stored on the user’s computer via their web browser. But what’s really at issue here is third-party tracking cookies. Advertisers can track visitors as they navigate the web. By aggregating all of this information, they can learn what products you are interested in, what you like to read, what you like to watch, your political beliefs, your ethnicity, your gender, your age, and much more. Companies can use this data to better market their products and services to you as well as sell your data to others.

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But what is causing all this consternation about cookies? Namely, it’s Google. They have announced that their web browser, Chrome (the most popular browser in the world), will cease support for third-party cookies within two years. This comes after Apple, the manufacturer of the Safari browser, has taken an aggressive pro-privacy stance. The degree to which any of these tech giants have their users’ best interests at heart as opposed to merely wanting to control all the data themselves is debatable. Regardless, it means Canadian businesses must find another way to access data about their potential customers.

The way forward for Canadian businesses depends on just how much they rely or plan to rely on digital advertising. Google has already suggested, helpfully, that those affected by the coming death of the third-party can use Google’s Privacy Sandbox to understand customer data. Another non-Google solution is something called AdIds, or MAIDS, for a mobile version. AdIds offer a more permanent solution to cookies, and MAIDS has the added benefit of working better with mobile users, tracking data within apps. But a lot of this is beyond the scope of a small and medium-sized business in Canada. For such companies, they can either hire digital advertising agencies to figure this out for them or find a way to establish more of a rapport with customers themselves. First-party cookies are still very much alive, so getting customers to your business’s website will be essential. As will newsletters, subscriptions, and even paywalls.

The way forward will not be apparent for every Canadian company as the future is not clear. However, it’s always essential to stay in the loop, and Exports News will keep you informed of all the subsequent developments.

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