Europe Travel

The travel industry adapts itself to a Google environment without cookies

Google is saying goodbye to cookies. This system, which for years has served to collect user data on behalf of users, has its days numbered: cookies will no longer be supported in Chrome by the end of 2023. This will eliminate one of the longest-standing marketing techniques available for the 64.92% of all web traffic that runs on Chrome.

The company has announced the planned dates for the phasing out of cookies as part of its Privacy Sandbox initiative, which will take place in two phases starting in late 2022 and mid-2023. The future is the controversial FLoC (Federated Learning of Cohorts), which has already met with opposition from several companies and is in fact being investigated by the European Commission.

Margrethe Vestager, VP Competition at the European Commission, has said that the EC is concerned “that Google has made it difficult for rivals’ online advertising services to compete in the so-called ‘ad tech stack‘.”

© Nathana Rebouças on Unsplash

The tourism industry is getting prepared for the change as marketers will no longer be able to use third-party cookies for cross-site data collection, retargeting, and ad serving. According to the Sojern, cumulative flight and hotel searches, upcoming hotel bookings, and financial information can reveal broader industry trends to help marketers tailor campaigns to overarching wants and needs.

By using marketing performance combined with current inventory data, marketers can target past guests who have stayed at the property or those who have stayed in recent months and show intent to stay again. Travolution explains that by leveraging historical booking data, including online and offline purchases, marketers can see who is a repeat traveller and create a tailored experience to build brand loyalty.

Google insists that Privacy Sandbox aims to establish a series of open standards to improve privacy on the web that also provide transparency and greater control over how data is used. In practice this means that cookies would be replaced with the new paradigm imposed by FLoC, a system that groups users with the same interests and thus allows them to theoretically hide particular user data without harming them or advertisers, who can continue to target audiences with specific interests.

To achieve this, Google already has a roadmap in which they propose two phases in which their Chrome browser will stop supporting cookies:

  • Phase 1 (from the end of 2022): once the tests are completed and the APIs are launched in Chrome, this phase will begin in which publishers and the advertising industry will have “the time necessary to migrate their services”. This phase is expected to last nine months, during which time the adoption of the technology and feedback will be monitored before moving on to Phase 2.
  • Phase 2 (starting mid-2023): Chrome will begin to phase out third-party cookies over a three-month period, until they are completely eliminated by the end of 2023.

Google’s goal is to achieve the total elimination of cookies in Chrome by the end of 2023. The deadline is therefore long, but this proposal faces criticism from several companies such as Brave, DuckDuckGo or a Mozilla that doubts that it really protects privacy.

Other entities such as the Electronic Frontier Foundation (EFF) describe FLoC as “a terrible idea”, but if there is a major obstacle it is the one that could be imposed by the European Commission, which is investigating this initiative.

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