In the face of increasing consumer awareness and regulatory pressure regarding the use of consumer data, the leader in online data collection has announced major changes.  Google is phasing out the use of third-party cookies and the sale of individual trackers that follow users across websites.  Taken together, these changes will affect (read: lessen) the ability of advertisers to identify and monitor the habits of individual users.  Google will still track users on its own services, but its ad sales will now depend on grouping users and selling those groups rather than selling individual users.

The potential for these moves to force great change in the online advertising world is obvious.  But because Google's reach is so massive, and its methods tend to set norms, these changes are likely to have a knock-on effect in other areas of online data collection and profiling as well.  Given the increasing scrutiny on individual targeting in the EU and the spreading patchwork of privacy laws at the state level in the US, a forced re-think in the industry may be of benefit to many companies with an online presence.