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Third-Party Cookies are Dying: How do we Navigate the Future?

Privacy concerns are nothing new in the digital age. From Facebook to TikTok, data privacy has been a hot topic in today’s media – when they aren’t reporting on COVID-19 cases.

While the inevitable shift to a cookieless world brings its fair share of challenges for digital marketers, it also gives us the opportunity to discover smarter, circumstantial targeting tactics – that can actually lead to higher conversion rates.

That’s just how the cookie crumbles 

Users have been demanding greater privacy online – despite sharing every iced coffee they consume on Instagram stories. 

From transparency to choice and control on how their data is used, it’s been clear that an evolution of the web ecosystem is required to meet increasing demands. 

That’s why the termination of third-party data has been in the works for a while, with Safari and Firefox leading the charge. But what really shook the world is Google’s announcement that it will begin phasing them out of its popular Chrome browser within two years. 

As the biggest browsing platform worldwide, Google Chrome makes up more than 56% of the web’s browsing market and accounts for more than half of all global web traffic.

This phase out will ultimately result in a shift in how businesses manage privacy, data and advertising online.

But, don’t panic just yet. No seriously, relax.

Google says it still wants to arm users with privacy control without limiting publishers from generating ad revenue or brands from targeting customers with relevant content. 

And let’s not forget, there are plenty of other ways to capture data – and these methods aren’t going anywhere.

The truth is, the elimination of third-party cookies will heavily impact those who thrived off this data, but for many – you probably won’t even notice they’re gone.

Privacy Sandbox: Building a better ecosystem 

With the phase out of third party cookies, Google unveiled the introduction of Privacy Sandbox – and no, it doesn’t involve a day at the beach.

Privacy Sandbox introduces a new functionality which allows publishers and advertisers to continue to target ads to consumers without violating privacy. This new introduction will ideally sustain a healthy ad-supported web that will eventually make third-party cookies obsolete.

In addition, it will combat non-cookie based cross-tracking techniques (those sneaky little buggers) including: fingerprinting, link decoration, cache inspection and network tracking.

The Facebook Conversion API offers similar functions to this (but hardly anyone is using it yet!). Working with your Facebook pixel to improve performance and measurement on ad campaigns, it provides a more accurate scope of the omnichannel customer journey.

Stop reaching for the cookie jar (those stale, third-party cookies, that is)

For decades, marketers used third-party cookies as a crutch to deliver targeted digital marketing strategies. But in reality – third party data expires faster than that avocado in your cupboard. 

And with the introduction of Privacy Sandbox, using other tactics that bypass third-party cookies, such as fingerprinting, will also be squashed out.

Now marketers are forced to give up the third-party cookies for good and look to other targeting tactics when it comes to advertising. 

But hey – a lot of them you should already be doing anyway. 

Context is king

While contextual targeting isn’t new, the way it’s being achieved through advancements in natural language processing and AI make it a game changer for brands. 

Through analysing consumer interests, brands can better understand their search environment and advertise relevant content served up on a silver platter, in a space that contextually makes sense.

First-party data isn’t going anywhere

It’s important to remember that while third-party cookies might be saying their goodbyes, first-party cookies are sticking around for the fiesta.


Because first-party data is completely transparent, compliant with privacy regulations and owned by the brand.

With first-party data you can analyse consumer web traffic and leverage things like past purchases and product interests to provide personalised recommendations for potential customers.

When a consumer visits your site (and if you have the technology to drop a pixel), you can immediately start building a relationship with the visitor. 

While the browser cookie is still there, your website will remember the consumer and you have the opportunity to personalise what they see. But if they wipe the browser, they wipe your website’s memory of them too. 

Zero-party data is the new third-party data

Let’s be real – third-party cookies are a superficial way to get to know your consumers. If you want to really understand your target audience, ditching them is probably in your best interest (and theirs!).

These days, it’s all about zero-party data – the cookie of all cookies.

Zero-party data is the new era of privacy, creating more opportunities for brands to gather genuine information and build direct relationships with customers.

Through self-reported data, directly from the customer you can learn more about their preference insights and purchase intentions – without breaching privacy restrictions.

Your other cookies aren’t going anywhere

See – your future isn’t so cookieless after all!

While you might have concerns around the elimination of third-party data; zero-party data, first-party data and contextual targeting can help you forge more empathetic and authentic connections with consumers.

Providing you with a safer and smarter way to drive conversions, a “cookieless” future means more meaningful marketing messages at scale. 

It also means more money in your pockets and more dynamic, digital marketing campaigns that target who you want, when you want.

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