Preparing for the Phasing Out of Third-Party Cookies

Sandy Ghuman 02/02/2024 4 minutes

As we enter the era of Google phasing out third-party cookies, it really is time to accelerate your first-party data strategy if you haven’t already. Scaling up first-party data, along with building customer intelligence that provides a holistic view of customers and implementing privacy-focused identity solutions is key. Here, our Data Specialist Advisor, Sandy Ghuman, explores what you need to know about the imminent deprecation of third-party cookies and how best to prepare.

The Troublesome Third-Party Cookie

Third-party cookies have been widely used to build user profiles around interests, preferences and online activities across multiple sites. These profiles are then served targeted ads, or personalised content based on their preferences and behaviours.

This approach, however, has brought increasing concerns over data privacy and the ethics of collecting advertising data without explicit user consent. Whilst consumers do understand the need to share data in order to receive that true value exchange, the increased concerns about user privacy and data protection have led to initiatives by web browsers and regulatory bodies to restrict or phase out their use in favour of more privacy-friendly alternatives.

What Does This for Marketers?

Those heavily reliant on third-party cookies will face challenges in tracking and targeting users effectively. This will ultimately impact ROI and performance due to reduced ad relevance, lower click-through rates and potentially higher advertising costs as they adapt to new methodologies and alternative solutions.

Being ready with some alternative solutions and strategies to target and engage with users effectively, whilst remaining privacy safe and having the ability to apply continued learnings from measurement will minimise the impact of cookies being phased out.

These include:

  • A bigger focus on first-party data
  • Privacy-focused identity solutions
  • Innovation in tech

Focus on first-party data

The death of the cookie has been leading headlines for a number of years along with the complexities of being prepped for it, therefore many brands are already realising the importance and value of first-party data. Increasing the depth and breadth of your first-party data will ultimately provide more scale in reaching your intended audiences in multiple environments with the right message at the right time.

The focus of your data strategy will evolve pending on your vision, goals and objectives, along with what you have at the moment and how you are currently activating data.

You may already have a rich dataset providing you with a good understanding of your customers and prospects. Your goals may be more around how your data is being stored, managed, updated and activated in privacy safe environments.

Alternatively, you may be looking to increase understanding of your customers, build data products or new models that deliver different segments for audience targeting. Alongside, you may want to invest in capabilities to leverage these insights and segments to activate audiences.

Or, you may have very little first-party data, especially if you do not always own the consumer relationship. You may therefore be prioritising tactics around data generation and value exchange to lay the foundations of a first-party data strategy that will provide the ability to scale in a post-cookie environment.

Whatever stage you may be in your data strategy, maintaining momentum around first-party data tactics, continuously evolving and enriching your first-party data profiles will enable scale and reach, reducing reliance on third-party cookies.

The role of identity

Once third-party cookies are phased out, the role of identity becomes increasingly important in the digital advertising ecosystem. You may find yourself looking for identity solutions or implementing tactics to leverage your first-party data to better understand and engage with your audiences more effectively across devices, sites and channels. You will most likely want a single customer view, whilst also respecting user privacy.

Some tactics around identity you may implement could include:

Creating a unified ID across your estate and CRM

Unified user profiles across devices and channels will provide a holistic view of your users to enable delivery of personalised and consistent experiences, without relying on third-party cookies for cross-site tracking.

Encouraging log-ins to identify users

Authenticated or logged-in users will power targeting and further enrich your profiles.

Data collaborations with publishers, advertisers and technology providers

Partnering with these parties will enable you to create shared identifiers or authentication mechanisms to address fragmentation in the digital advertising ecosystem and provides scalable alternatives to third-party cookies.

Evolution in MarTech

As you accelerate your first-party data strategies and turn your data into a powerful asset, you may also look for ways in which to unlock the power of your data and the ability to tap into it effectively and efficiently.

This will often be a transformational journey, harnessing technology, particularly as your data may be sitting in multiple complex environments and activated in silos. Ensuring you have the right MarTech ecosystem with the right processes, strategies and skills will enable you to truly leverage your data and drive value.

However, with the MarTech landscape continuously evolving and becoming increasingly more complex, you may need a helping hand. Being future-proofed in the ability to store, manage and enrich your data, alongside the capabilities around automation, personalisation and activation will help you unlock the power of your data, reducing the reliance on cookies.

Having a robust data strategy is a must in any Marketing team. At Passion, we rely on data to inform our campaign thinking, budget activation and optimisations. Every decision we make when running activity for our clients is rooted in data and our advisory relationship with Sandy makes us even stronger as a performance agency. If you fancy a chat to future-proof your data strategy, please get in touch today.