Death to Cookies: Google is Once Again Reshaping the Digital World

The era of the Third-Party Cookie is coming to an end – and Google is putting in the final nail in the coffin. Although Google had planned to eliminate third-party cookies from its Chrome browser by 2022, the company announced last year that it would postpone efforts until mid-2023. The process is set to last six months, ending in late 2023, and will effectively eliminate third-party cookies. This massive shift may benefit consumers in terms of privacy, but it presents a significant challenge to businesses that rely on that data on a daily basis.

What Are Cookies and Why Should I Care? 

Cookies, which are small pieces of data used to connect websites and users, were first introduced in 1994 and have since proven to be effective tools for tracking user data across websites. However, in recent years, more consumers have expressed concern about how much information a company obtains about them through the use of cookies. Companies can learn who you are and what you buy simply by tracking you, and some consumers find that level of intrusiveness to be excessive. According to reports, 81% of people believe that the risks of data collection outweigh the benefits. To address the growing concern and promote greater transparency, major browsers such as Safari have already stopped supporting third-party cookies on their platforms in 2020 and Mozilla Firefox in 2019. While some believe that the “cookie” ban will help to weed out bots and spammers, brands focused on digital advertising and remarketing can anticipate the difficulties ahead.

You can thank first-party cookies if you visit a website and your login information is pre-saved. They provide website owners with basic analytics such as geographical demographics, number of web sessions, and more. Third-party cookies are set by domains other than the one you are currently visiting. They are typically used for online advertising because they can track which websites you visit frequently and other behaviors that can aid in the creation of a visitor profile. Third-party cookies are to blame if you’ve ever searched for a printer on Amazon and then seen Amazon printer ads on other websites.

Because not all cookies are created equal, it’s critical to remember that this “cookie” ban only applies to third-party cookies. In their absence, running multi-channel campaigns across Facebook, Twitter, and LinkedIn will be difficult. The way we are used to using behavioral targeting efforts will change dramatically, and we will need to find new ways and revitalize older marketing tactics to get through this transition. When third-party cookies become obsolete, retargeting ads will still be possible, but much more effort will be required than it is now. Instead of simply embedding a retargeting pixel on your site and using a third-party cookie to retarget users, you will need to create your own retargeting lists by collecting contact information from your website visitors’ browsing data with a first-party cookie. 

In other words, first-party cookies are associated with the website that you, the user, visit. Third-party can refer to anything from pop-ups to external assets. Third-party cookies are frequently blocked by browsers because they appear spammy.

What Happens Once They’re Gone?

Clearly, the ban will disrupt the simplicity that many have grown accustomed to but let’s be honest, third-party data isn’t particularly reliable and results based on it are frequently inaccurate. Direct acquisition of a user’s behavioral data improves the accuracy of behavioral insights used for personalization campaigns. Businesses that start collecting first-party data now will have a significant advantage as they will be prepared to not have to rely on third-party data providers like Google or Facebook. Despite the impending demise of third-party cookies, brands still have other options – methods that provide greater accuracy but demand a higher level of creativity:

  • The rebirth of email. Email is one of the few methods that allows you to connect directly with your target audience. Your email subscriber list is arguably one of the most important components to building your own database. With the removal of third-party cookies, expect to see an increased focus on increasing and retaining email subscribers. Utilizing newsletters, whitepapers, and lead magnets within your email strategy are smart ways to nurture connections. Do you want to know how your target audience feels about a new product? Including a poll in your next newsletter will provide the insights necessary to get an accurate portrayal of the product’s market reception. 
  • Contextual advertising. In contrast to third-party data, which allows you to target ads in front of individuals who fit specific profiles, contextual advertising enables you to target ads to people who search for similar keywords as your ad. For example, if you sell corrugated equipment, your ad may appear on packaging industry-related websites. As a result, keyword research will become even more critical to understanding where your users are and what they are interested in. Contextual advertising programs like Google Adsense will likely see a rise in popularity as companies make the shift. While cookies are device-specific, introducing people-based advertising can help to avoid wasting money on retargeting the same individuals.
  • Loyalty Programs. 45% of consumers are willing to share personal information in exchange for a better experience. As a result, creating a loyalty program that allows for mutual value exchange will be critical to success. Investing time in developing a strong loyalty program can help you better understand your target audiences while increasing customer retention. Loyalty programs are common in the B2C market, but they are also useful in the B2B market. Lenovo’s Leap program was created after the company purchased IBM’s X86 server division but struggled to sell it. Lenovo’s goal was to have 500 companies join, and over 700 did! More loyalty program subscribers will result in more responsibly obtained first-party data.
  • Make Use of Social Media and Website Analytics. There are numerous tools available to help you understand how your audience behaves on social media. Now is a good time to re-evaluate these tools to see how they can help you better access and understand your audience. You can use an analytics platform like Google Analytics to assist you. Google Analytics employs a variety of first-party cookies, each serving a specific purpose, in order to collect as much data as possible. Each of these cookies collects and stores different types of information about website visitors. So, while one cookie tracks unique visitors, another tracks how much time each visitor spends on each page. As a result, you’ll have a detailed report on your visitors’ online behavior.

Manage Your Own Data Destiny

While third-party cookies may have provided quicker insights, shifting your priorities to first-party data will provide you with a cleaner, more precise dataset that is proprietary to your company and will enable greater personalization. Even if third-party cookies are no longer used, the value of maintaining a genuine connection with your customers should not be underestimated! Don’t let major industry shifts disrupt your operations. Adjusting your strategies now will make a big difference when Google drops the hammer in 2023. If you need help creating a new digital marketing sales funnel, please contact us.

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