Adapting to the End of Third-Party Cookies

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Founder | Head of Web and Digital

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Introduction to Cookies

If your marketing strategy heavily relies on third-party tracking cookies for user data like location, age, and browsing history, then Google’s upcoming removal in 2024 is a cause for concern. The alternative will require a shift in approach to how you get to know your customers and target them correctly. 

Let’s start with a quick rundown of online cookies. They function as memory cards, quietly recording and transmitting your online behaviour to websites. There are three types: 

Session cookies for temporary tracking.

Session cookies are like temporary sticky notes that websites attach to your browser while you’re visiting. These cookies are only active for the duration of your browsing session and are typically used to track your immediate interactions with the website. For example, they might keep track of items you’ve added to your shopping cart or remember your login information until you close your browser. Once you end your session by closing the browser, these cookies are deleted, hence the term “temporary tracking.”

Persistent cookies for remembering preferences.

Persistent cookies, on the other hand, have a longer lifespan compared to session cookies. They’re like digital post-it notes that stick around even after you’ve left the website. These cookies are designed to remember your preferences and settings for future visits. For instance, they might remember your language preferences, website theme settings, or login credentials, making it more convenient for you to navigate the website on subsequent visits. Unlike session cookies, persistent cookies persist beyond the current browsing session, hence the name “persistent.”

Third-party cookies, dubbed as tracking cookies. 

These cookies have earned themselves a notorious reputation for their intrusive tracking capabilities. Unlike first-party cookies, which are set by the website you’re directly interacting with, third-party cookies are set by domains other than the one you’re currently visiting. These cookies are often used by advertisers and analytics companies to track your browsing behaviour across multiple websites. They collect a wide range of data, including your interests, browsing history, location, and demographics, which are then used to serve targeted ads or sold to third parties. Due to privacy concerns and increasing regulations, third-party cookies are being phased out by major browsers, prompting marketers to explore alternative methods for audience targeting and data collection.


What this discontinuation means for marketers

The discontinuation of third-party cookies poses significant challenges for marketers, as these cookies have long been a cornerstone of digital advertising and audience targeting strategies. With third-party cookies, marketers have been able to track user behaviour across the web, gather valuable insights into consumer preferences and interests, and deliver personalised ads tailored to individual users. Without this granular level of tracking, marketers may struggle to effectively reach their target audience, leading to decreased ad relevance, lower conversion rates, and potentially wasted advertising spending. Additionally, the loss of third-party cookies limits marketers’ ability to measure campaign effectiveness, track user journeys, and attribute conversions accurately. This disruption in data collection and targeting capabilities requires marketers to adapt their strategies, invest in alternative methods of audience segmentation and data collection, and prioritise building direct relationships with consumers to maintain relevance in the evolving digital landscape.

Now, the impending demise of third-party cookies means that tracking user data for targeted advertising will become a lot trickier. 


Navigating the post-cookie era with a Data-Driven Mindset 

Marketers are finding solace in leveraging their in-house data and cultivating consent-driven strategies. At the heart of this approach lies a robust Customer Relationship Management (CRM) system and a data-driven mindset. By harnessing zero-party data, marketers tap into information voluntarily shared by consumers, fostering trust and transparency. This direct exchange empowers consumers to actively participate in shaping their digital experiences, knowing precisely how their data will be utilised. This shift towards zero-party data not only aligns with evolving privacy expectations but also allows marketers to cultivate deeper, more meaningful relationships with their audience.

Moreover, integrating quizzes into marketing strategies presents a dynamic avenue for engaging users while gathering valuable insights. Through interactive quizzes, marketers can capture specific data points tailored to individual preferences, behaviours, and interests. This data serves as a foundation for crafting targeted advertising campaigns that resonate with consumers on a personal level. By offering an engaging and interactive experience, quizzes not only facilitate data collection but also enhance user engagement and brand affinity.

In parallel, contextual targeting emerges as a viable alternative, prioritising user privacy while delivering relevant content based on real-time online activity. Unlike intrusive tracking methods associated with third-party cookies, contextual targeting focuses on the immediate context of a user’s browsing session. By aligning ad placement with the user’s current interests and intent, marketers can deliver tailored messages without compromising privacy. This approach not only respects user preferences but also ensures the efficacy and relevance of marketing efforts in the absence of third-party cookies. Thus, with a CRM-driven strategy at its core, marketers can navigate the evolving digital landscape while prioritising consumer trust, engagement, and privacy.


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