Are You Ready For a World Without 3rd Party Cookies?

Chocolate chip digital cookies on the internet

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Following growing consumer pressure around privacy concerns, Google has stated that it will no longer support the use of 3rd party cookies on Google Chrome. The original deadline for the 3rd party cookie was 2022 but now Google has given marketers an extra year to prepare and pushed the change to 2023.

Is this the end of digital marketing as we know it? What does this change mean for your marketing? And what do you do now? Let’s start with the basics.

What Are 3rd Party Cookies?

Cookies were developed in the 1990s to help improve website analytics and user experience. Now 30 years later, cookies do a lot more and 3rd party cookies, in particular, are cause for some concern. 

3rd party cookies are tracking codes placed on websites with the purpose of remembering a user’s online activity. They are often placed by advertising companies to collect data to be used later. This data is then bought and sold to enable marketers to target anyone online. 

The simplest example of a 3rd party cookie at work is a retargeting cookie. One day you’re looking at a new car online and for the next two weeks you are followed around the internet by Ford ads. This type of retargeting is common practice, driven by 3rd party cookies and consumers either love it or hate it. 

What Does This Mean for Digital Marketing?

Since Google Chrome owns 67% of the web browser market, their decision to phase out the 3rd party cookie will have a huge impact on digital marketing. Without 3rd party cookies, marketers will lose a number of targeting and retargeting abilities.

There will also be challenges in multi-touch and view-through attribution in addition to many more challenges in the Digital Marketing ecosystem. 

As of the beginning of 2022, marketers will have to rely heavily on 1st party data as their main source of targeting fodder. Marketers will need to gather as much information directly from their users as possible and the sooner this begins the better. Thankfully there are other options. 

Here are only some of the targeting options that will still be available after 3rd party cookies are phased out. 

  • 1st Party Data is data that your company has collected themselves about their customers and prospects. This data is fair game for targeting since your company owns it and the users have knowingly provided it themselves. 
  • 2nd Party Data is another organization’s 1st party data that they share with you to target its users. 
  • IP Address targeting allows a physical address to be targeted based on its assigned IP address. 
  • Contextual data targeting aligns an ad to a contextually relevant site. 
  • Cohorts are the latest targeting effort by Google and they allow advertisers to target large groups of people with similar interests, attributes, etc. (what they are calling cohorts) instead of individual users. This is their current answer to the loss of the 3rd party cookie. 

What Can You Do? 

Take a breath…

This is not the end of digital marketing by any means. This is an opportunity to rethink how we, as marketers, target campaigns and measure success. Marketing agencies, along with their clients, should start planning for this change now.

The solution will not be one size fits all. It will be a unique solution for each client and may require rounds of testing to find the right mix. 

Need to talk to someone about helping your marketing campaigns survive the change? We would love to speak with you. We have the proven experience to help you plan the right targeting strategies to thrive in the post-cookie world.

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