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Digiday’s definitive, if not exhaustive, 2024 Google Chrome third-party cookie deprecation glossary

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Adios, third-party cookies. As Chrome kicks them to the curb, let’s untangle the web of jargon that’s left behind. This glossary is your quick, no-frills guide to the biggest shake-up in online advertising. Let’s dive in. 

Authenticated IDs: When you log into a site using an email address, you’re essentially verifying your identity (like showing your ID at a club entrance). The website then uses this verified information to create a profile that advertisers can target. The key here is consent. You choose to log in and share certain information, unlike third-party cookies, which often work in the background without explicit consent. But like any technology handling personal data, they tread a fine line between utility and privacy.

Browser fingerprinting: This takes a snapshot of your browser’s quirks — screen size, fonts, software versions — and uses this unique combo to ID your online moves. Unlike cookies, this method doesn’t leave crumbs. It’s stealthier, tracking you by the unique blend of your browser’s traits, not who you are.

Competition and Markets Authority (CMA): The U.K.’s digital advertising watchdog. It’s the sharp-eyed referee in Google’s game-changing match toward a new advertising era with its Privacy Sandbox. This regulator is all about fair play, ensuring Google’s big move doesn’t turn into a solo show or leave users on the losing side.

Consent management: The processes and tools employed by sites to get your consent for collecting and using personal data, especially for advertising purposes.

Contextual advertising: Targeted advertising based on the content of the web page, not the person’s browsing history.

Cookieless tracking: Ways of tracking your online behavior without using cookies, such as fingerprinting or using first-party data. It’s the internet’s way of saying, “I see you, without leaving crumbs behind.”

Cross-site tracking: The process of tracking your activity across different sites to understand your interests and behaviors for targeted advertising.

Data clean rooms: Let’s start with what they’re not. Data clean rooms do not address the problem of cookies (or other identifiers for that matter) going away. They are simply a way to impose some limits on data sharing via permissioned collaboration. In other words, they’re like secure conference rooms of the data world, where valuable information is shared and used, but under strict rules and high security to ensure privacy and compliance are never compromised.

Device fingerprinting: Think of it like a digital detective taking notes on your device’s unique characteristics (like screen size, fonts, software versions and more) and using them to recognize how you behave online.

First-party cookies: Like third-party cookies, first-party ones are small pieces of data. Unlike those cookies, they’re from the site you’ve visited, not by a company that wants to know. They’re used to remember things like log-in details, what you had in your shopping cart or your language preferences, making your next visit to the site more convenient and personalized to your needs.

First-party data: Unlike third-party data, this is collected by a company directly from its audience. Or to put it another way, first-party data is a business’s knowledge of its customers, gathered firsthand.

Google’s Protected Audience: Part of the Privacy Sandbox, Protected Audiences are like a confidential matchmaker. Advertisers specify the type of audience they want to target based on broad criteria like interests of behavior. Google then matches ads to relevant users, but without revealing specific user data to the advertisers. Up until last April, it was known as FLEDGE API (that’s short for “first locally-executed decision over groups experiment“).

Google’s Topics: The part of the Sandbox Google believes will allow advertisers to target ads without compromising someone’s privacy. Instead of tracking their individual browsing history, “Topics” identify the general subjects of categories of the sites they visit (like sports, fashion or cooking, for instance).

“ID agnostic”: What ad tech vendors say to the market to show they work all the major ID vendors in each market, or those that are passed in the bid by the publisher.

ID graphs: They’re like the wannabe matchmakers of the online advertising world. They take bits of information from all over — your phone, laptop, social media — and piece them together to identify one person. For advertisers, this is like catnip. They get what they think is a clearer view of what you like and do online, making their targeting all the sharper.

Privacy Sandbox: A set of open standards from Google to enhance privacy on the web in the absence of third-party cookies. It’s a work in progress, evolving with feedback from privacy advocates, regulators, advertisers and users. For more information on what this looks like, read our explainer.

Probabilistic IDs: They use available data points like device type, location and browser settings to make an educated guess about who’s behind the screen. It’s a blend of detective work and statistical guesswork.

Second-party data: In a nutshell, this is someone else’s first-party data that you’ve taken directly from them.

Seller-defined audiences: The result of a cross-industry effort to come up with a way for publishers to sell ads without third-party cookies. They let a publisher take their own data — i.e. what you check out on their site, your clicks, your likes — and stitch together unique audience groups. Unlike other alternatives to third-party cookies, these audiences aren’t off-the-rack. They’re crafted based on firsthand visitor insights. Then, the publisher takes those audience groups straight to advertisers. For the publisher, it’s a power move. They’re not just selling ad space — they’re selling a VIP list, neatly categorized and ready for action.

Third-party cookies: A small piece of data that a company other than the site you’re visiting places on your browser. It tracks your online behavior across different sites to collect data about your preferences and activities, often used for targeted advertising.

Third-party data: Data collected by a business that doesn’t have a direct relationship with the user whose data is being collected.

Zero-party data: Another term for the data that customers willingly and proactively share with a business.

What did we miss? Let Seb Joseph know at seb@digiday.com.

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