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The Cookie Crumbles: The Death of Third-Party Cookies & Its Effect on Advertising

In recent years, customers have been demanding more privacy, stemming from and leading to an increase in conversations and concerns around GDPR and who should be able to access consumers’ personal and behavioural data.

What are Third-Party cookies, and why do we use them?

Third-party cookies are little tracking codes that are generated and placed on your computer by websites other than the one you’re visiting (usually advertiser's servers ["ad server"]), which primarily record a user's behaviour and path through the internet, creating a user profile as they do so. They are powerful online marketing tools, which are frequently referred to as "tracking cookies" and "targeting cookies".

Marketers use cookies to track website visitors, improve the user experience, and collect data that helps target ads to the most relevant audiences. They are also used to learn what a website’s visitors are checking out online when they are on other websites.

Why are Third-Party cookies disappearing? 

In recent years, customers have been demanding more privacy, stemming from and leading to an increase in conversations and concerns around GDPR and who should be able to access consumers’ personal and behavioural data.

The need for greater online privacy isn't new, and many marketers have seen this coming for a long time. In 2018, when GDPR was brought into law, Europe's highest court ruled that web users in the EU (European Union) must actively consent to all tracking cookies when they visit a site.

Studies have found that 48% of consumers have stopped buying from a company over privacy concerns, and 37% of consumers say companies being transparent about how they collect and use data and being more active in enforcing privacy online is the best way to reduce their concerns.

As a result of customer concerns, Google announced that it would phase out third-party cookies on its Chrome browser by 2022. However, in June 2021, it updated its plans, explaining the timeline to block third-party cookies has been pushed back until late 2023. This is because Google needs more time across the ecosystem to ‚Äč"get it right," giving publishers, advertisers and web developers more time to test and build alternatives that work.

It's not all doom and gloom!

The death of Third-Party cookies presents an opportunity to build a sustainable ecosystem that allows marketers to achieve their goals while being respectful of user privacy. It increases the need for brands to have a more transparent value exchange when collecting consumer data and actioning that data via trusted partners. 

Of course, this will also positively affect customers, as they can then be confident their personal information is being used ethically. This will significantly impact brands, as marketers understand that many consumers will actively avoid brands that are perceived as being untrustworthy with data.

What is the alternative for marketers? 

It's no secret that the death of these cookies will significantly impact the digital industry, especially those whose marketing strategy relies on data from third-party cookies. To combat this, you must stay one step ahead of the game and start using alternatives to collect insights from your customers.

One alternative is going back to more "traditional" marketing methods. Contextual advertising is targeted advertising where ads appear online on relevant sites based on content matches rather than cookies. This form of advertising allows you to use PPC ads on websites with similar keywords to your own. This method doesn't depend on third-party cookies to be effective and still gives you the power to get your message in front of customers with relevant interests and buying priorities. 

As mentioned earlier, Google pushed back the cookie-free policy to give developers more time to work on alternatives. One alternative being Google's Sandbox. Instead of using cookies, Google says it wants the industry to use its Privacy Sandbox. The Sandbox uses tools that let advertisers run targeted ads without having direct access to users' details.

Our team are one step ahead. 

Our developers, marketers and SEO experts are already preparing for the disappearance of third-party cookies. Our team is adapting to alternatives to continue to implement campaigns for our clients that still engage and resonate with their targeted audiences.

Are you still relying on third-party cookies to gather data for your digital strategy? Get in touch with our team for a no-obligation chat on how to make the change. We can offer you valuable advice and practical support to take forward ahead of Google’s policy change.