Australian digital marketing expert Sagar Sethi has painted a bleak picture for online consumers, estimating that prices could increase by as much as 25% due to Google canceling cookies. Sethi, the CEO of Xugar, says there will be a fundamental shift in marketing by the end of the year once fully switched off.

“[It will have a] flow-on impact on the price of goods online, ultimately impacting consumers at the checkout,” Sethi tells Small Business Connections

This move comes as consumers raise concerns about using their personal data when logging on to a website that requests authorization for third-party cookies. He says consumers view third-party cookies as “privacy-invading technology.”

Ironically, canceling this might cause consumers to fork out more for product prices due to increased marketing budgets. 

Here’s how it works. The data collected through cookies helps companies track consumer behavior, like what products they buy and what they prefer. Without this information and unable to achieve targeted marketing campaigns, entrepreneurs might have to spend more money on online advertising. This will be passed on to the consumer. 

Phase out third-party cookies

A new feature called Tracking Protection is being implemented by Google this year. It’s already started from the first week of 2024. The Tracking Protection feature restricts third-party cookies by default. 

Google says third-party cookies have been vital for nearly three decades. “While they can be used to track your website activities, sites have also used them to support a range of online experiences — like helping you log in or showing you relevant ads.”

Then why are we getting rid of it? “With the Privacy Sandbox, we’re taking a responsible approach to phasing out third-party cookies in Chrome. We’ve built new tools for sites that support key use cases and provided time for developers to make the transition,” says Google

Google says the project is still in the beginning phase. “We are starting with a small percentage of Chrome users so developers can test their readiness for a web without third-party cookies.”

What to expect from Tracking Protection

Chrome users will be selected randomly by a notification when opening their browser on a desktop or Android. As you browse the web, third-party cookies will be restricted by default. This will limit the ability to track you across different websites.

But if something goes wrong, there will be backup. “If a site doesn’t work without third-party cookies and Chrome notices you’re having issues, we’ll prompt you with an option to temporarily re-enable third-party cookies for that website.”

Developers have now been urged to take note of these changes. From the third quarter of this year, UK citizens will have the new feature 100% installed. “Subject to addressing any remaining competition concerns of the UK’s Competition and Markets Authority, Chrome will ramp up third-party cookie restrictions to 100% of users from Q3 2024.”

Expert’s view on turning off cookies

Pesach Lattin, editor-in-chief at Adotat says Google’s changes have left the industry in a “state of suspense.”

“Ad executives are hedging their bets, and regulators are casting shadows of doubt. The Privacy Sandbox, touted as the savior, is under intense scrutiny. Industry players are crafting doomsday prepper-like contingency plans,” wrote the editor of the advertising publication social media.

n an article about the uncertainty, Lattin writes about the journey towards a cookieless future. He compares it to “navigating an uncharted labyrinth, leaving us yearning for the days when cookies ruled the waves.”

Questions are now being asked whether Google will go ahead with the full implementation. This despite the strong criticism against what it would mean for publishers and marketing. “Only time will tell, but one thing’s for sure – this saga will keep us on the edge of our seats.”

About the author

Mia is a multi-award-winning journalist. She has more than 14 years of experience in mainstream media. She's covered many historic moments that happened in Africa and internationally. She has a strong focus on human interest stories, to bring her readers and viewers closer to the topics at hand. Do you have a story you would like her to expose, report on, or consider? Please send your request to Newsdesk@locate2u.com.