No soup for you, Seinfield characters. No cookies tracking in Firefox for you, marketers. Well, less cookies tracking, anyway.

In the race to browser cookie destruction, Firefox pulled ahead this week for the moment. Mozilla announced its Firefox browser, starting June 14, is rolling out Total Cookie Protection by default to all Firefox users worldwide.

"Total Cookie Protection is Firefox’s strongest privacy protection to date, confining cookies to the site where they were created, thus preventing tracking companies from using these cookies to track your browsing from site to site," Mozilla officials wrote in a blog post. "Whether it’s applying for a student loan, seeking treatment or advice through a health site or browsing an online dating app, massive amounts of your personal information is online — and this data is leaking all over the web."

These "hyper-specific-to-you ads" are the product of cookies, officials noted, and they track behavior across sites and build an "extremely sophisticated profile of who you are." 

What Is Total Cookie Protection?

That's no bueno for today's privacy-first digital customer experiences that many consumers crave. Total Cookie Protection creates a separate cookie jar for each website someone visits, according to Mozilla officials. This is how Mozilla illustrates the change for Firefox browsers:

Mozilla illustration showing its Total Cookie Protection for its Firefox browser. It creates a separate cookie jar for each website you visit. On the left is one cookie jar with three hands trying to reach into it. On the right side is three cookie jars with one hand each trying to reach into each one. It says "cookies" on the jar and company names above the hands. One of them is Facebook.
Meghan Newell

Marketers and other trackers will not be able to "link up" a visitor's behavior on multiple sites. They only get to see behavior on individual sites.

What now happens to a visitor's cookie?

Websites and third-party content embedded in a website deposit a cookie in the browser. That cookie is confined to the cookie jar assigned to only that website. "No other websites can reach into the cookie jars that don’t belong to them and find out what the other websites’ cookies know about you," Mozilla officials noted, "giving you freedom from invasive ads and reducing the amount of information companies gather about you."

Related Article: 5 Targeting Recommendations for a Post-Cookie World

Chrome Targets 2023 Cookie Demise

Mozilla's move comes after campaigns from the web powers to discontinue third-party cookie tracking. Google, which owns the world's most used browser in Chrome, had a change of heart earlier this year regarding its third-party cookies alternative plans after a year of growing negative industry feedback. It replaced its open-source Privacy Sandbox, known as “Federated Learning of Cohorts,” or FLoC, with Topics, which it calls “a new Privacy Sandbox proposal for interest-based advertising.”

Google plans on ending cookie tracking by the end of 2023. Topics is based on principles such as:

Learning Opportunities

  • Browser personalization
  • Three-week retention
  • No external servers
  • Consumer control

"Consumer privacy is a good thing and third-party cookies have long been a flawed tool," Spencer Smith, VP of marketing at Evocalize, told CMSWire this week. A better system must emerge. However, without a widely adopted alternative, many of the sites and content producers that consumers visit and enjoy may have their revenues negatively impacted, also impacting their ability to continue to provide content to users."

Ways Marketers Can Live Without Cookies

What's the lesson for marketers with Mozilla's move this week and Google's pending cookie dump? As third-party cookies go away, marketers need to rebalance their approach to reaching the right people at the right time with the right message, Smith said.

Tactics can include:

First-Party Data

Marketers can use their first-party data to reach individuals who have given their information willingly and consent for it to be used for marketing purposes, according to Smith.

"The challenge with first-part data is that it doesn't allow marketers to reach all the prospective customers out there who haven't shared their contact information with the marketer," he added. "New, privacy-compliant ID products, like UID 2.0 and LiveRamp's ATS, will be needed for marketers to activate their first-party audiences across more sites."

Second-Party Data

Second-party data will be a critical tool for marketers because it allows them to reach relevant audiences on specific sites that have scale. Instacart's recent move into creating ad products is one example of a publisher/app that recognizes the value of their audiences and their ability to segment those audiences for marketers, according to Smith. More and more sites will start to create ad products to monetize their unique audiences, Smith said, and more and more sites will incentivize users to log in and authenticate.

"While this will allow marketers to continue to reach relevant audiences, it creates a more fragmented experience for marketers and benefits the largest publishers," said Smith. "Consumers will feel the effects of the fragmented experience as things like frequency capping across sites and devices are no longer possible. And, smaller websites that have survived on ad revenue, but who don't have audiences at scale, will have a harder time surviving without the ad revenue and without the ability to monetize their audiences in a second-party form."

Lookalike Opportunities

First-party data is incredibly valuable, but it can lack scale, according to Smith. Marketers should look for publishers that offer lookalike audience capabilities, allowing them to find relevant audiences who look and behave most like their highest-value first-party audiences.

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