No fucking around this week, readers — it's been a horrific 🤮 one. Because:
- Google are doing something ~more awful than usual~ disguised as something ~quite good~ and I really REALLY would like everyone to understand this
- NFTs continue to be a gross, capitalistic, tech-bro, fuck-party
- There's nothing else, that's already enough...
🍪 Google refuses to share cookies; adtech tea party in ruins
I totally forgot about this because I did not take it seriously at the time: just over a year ago, Google announced that it would phase out its use of third-party cookies by 2022. The other day, they released this piece of propaganda to update us on how that's all going. Here is a key quote:
“Once third-party cookies are phased out, we will not build alternate identifiers to track individuals as they browse across the web, nor will we use them in our products.”
David Temken, Director of Product Management, Ads Privacy and Trust
It may shock you to learn that the reason why they will not build alternate identifiers, is because they definitely already have those. This is nothing to do with trying to maintain user privacy, and everything to do with being an aggressive monopoly. Allow me to explain...
👩🏫 BUT FIRST: a quick lesson in cookies
First-party cookies: you login to Google Docs, and to remember you, Google set a cookie so that you don't have to login again on your next visit. Google have given you a cookie via THEIR website — the cookie is from the first party.
Second-party cookies: I don't know... YOU give GOOGLE a cookie? Let's assume this doesn't exist...
Third-party cookies: you go to The Guardian's website, and Google set a cookie there too. The Guardian does not belong to Google. Google are a third-party. And they are giving you a cookie. Why? What's it for? What the hell do they think they're doing?
☝️DO NOT get confused: Google didn't 'sneak in'. Rather, The Guardian let them in. Because...
- Using Google's tracking technologies (such as cookies) helps publishers learn about their website visitors
- Google have been 'let in' to millions and millions of other websites. This browsing data enables those publishers to serve ads that are 'relevant' or 'personalised' or 'targeted' — whatever dumb thing you want to call it
- Advertisers pay BIG MONEY to advertise to people who might ACTUALLY convert
- Bonus thing: a recent study has shown that targeted ads are not much more effective than normal ads, and are a waste of money — which makes all of this very pointless indeed.
Now that you know all that, here's why this whole thing is badly disguised trash
Phasing out third-party cookies only strengthens Google's position as an advertising network giant. The data that publishers and advertisers currently get by way of Google's cookies is extremely powerful: you can use it to accurately segment audiences, build advertising profiles, predict people's behaviour, change people's behaviour, or whatever other underhanded things ad technologists enjoy.
Taking third-party cookies away, will make it much much harder for companies other than Google (and Facebook 🙄) to understand audiences. In other words, Google are just doing what they do best: crushing competition. They have the power, resource, and scale to continue getting over 70% of its revenue from ads.
So advertisers and publishers have been using browsing data (which is very valuable indeed) that has been gathered for them by Google. And in a year, they will be cut off. Meanwhile, Google will continue to take advantage of all that first-party data they gather and infer, via the products that all of us use: email, search, collaborative documents, a web browser, a virtual assistant, a smart speaker, a thermostat (Nest), a smartphone, a map, a laptop, Youtube, a cloud platform, an AI platform, oh my god I can't believe I'm still typing and this was all off the top of my head oh my god.
In the middle of all these antitrust hearings, Google are having an antitrust parade in plain sight. If you ever hear or read any approximation of 'well at least they're trying to maintain privacy' shut that shit down. They are not trying to do that... at all.
🤢 A note on NFTs
In case you haven't figured it out yet, they quite literally make me sick. The market circulated $320m last month alone, while it only circulated $200m in the whole fo 2020. I explain what an NFT is here, in case you don't know.
Of course, this is just a new justification for hipster capitalists to turn around and say 'hold my beard oil' so they have a free hand to rub their dicks, while the other hand leverages yet another climate-changing sojourn into false scarcity. TYPICAL.
In case you’re wondering if you should join in, here’s a handy flow chart to help you decide:
My advice: don't bother making art. Just leap-frog Twitter's super follower feature and sell your tweets instead.
💆♀️ Let’s end on something cool
This is how the internet used to work??