"If knowledge is power, then data may be one of the most potent forces of our age." Eleanor Shearer, Open Data Institute (ODI)

*The contents of this article are under no circumstances to be interpreted as legal advice on behalf of the authors or any associated and quoted parties.

Last Update: 25th March 2021*

We aim to update this article quarterly to support the marketing community towards a more ethical marketing world. If you have any comments or added resources, please comment on the report directly, and we'll keep in touch.


Before the COVID-19 pandemic rocked our reality, Google made an announcement that rocked the advertising world. In January of 2020, Google laid out its plan to eliminate the use of all third-party cookies across its products, most notably in Google's Chrome browser.

A new announcement from Google in March of 2021 makes it explicit that Google will not be providing its own alternative identifier for user-based tracking. The new FLoC (Federated Learning of Cohorts) system Google has developed as a part of its Privacy Sandbox (we'll expand on these later) will start being tested in Q2 of 2021. The first versions of new user controls in Chrome will begin to appear in April. By 2022, these transformations are expected to be fully rolled out.

While Safari and Firefox already leapt to safeguard user privacy by eliminating third-party cookies in 2019, Chrome reportedly captures 63.5% of web browsing activity (W3Counter). Therefore, this change will have a broad impact on the market, with many implications for digital marketers.

We've created a comprehensive overview of this change by Google, its context within broader user privacy regulations such as the GDPR, and the implications for digital marketing in future. We've compiled concrete advice on adapting your tracking, analytics and practice ethical marketing more generally. Don't worry if this already sounds like a lot to take in, and we'll take it step-by-step from the basics to the more complex.

First off, we'll help you understand the different types of cookies and how they behave. Next, we'll go over Google's announced changes to cookies and the GDPR, how they have come about, and what the general impacts will be. In the last section, we'll discuss how you can adapt your marketing activities to be compliant and remain competitive.

Cookies for Dummies

Types of Cookies

A cookie stores information about your web browsing activity on your device and processes that data to help a website function better for the user and in a personalised way. The cookie is implemented on your device by a website or program, and depending on its type, has the capacity to store detailed and potentially sensitive personal information about you, which is subject to local data protection regulations.