A marketing world with third-party cookie-less data

In the ever-evolving digital landscape, third-party cookies have played a pivotal role in shaping user interactions, personalized advertising, and data tracking as per Lakshmana Gnanapragasam's, SVP  Analytics, authored article in Adgully. However, with increasing concerns about privacy and data security, there has been a growing push to limit the use of third-party cookies. And with giants like Google and Apple phasing out third-party cookies, the ecosystem is on the brink of a transformation that raises critical questions about the future of digital advertising.

Let’s explore what third-party cookies are, why they are going away, and how advertisers can continue to deliver relevant, effective, and personalised experiences in the new digital world.

What are third-party cookies, and how do they work?

Third-party cookies are small pieces of code that track users’ online activities across multiple websites, allowing advertisers to gather valuable data and deliver targeted ads.

These cookies are set on a user’s computer, smartphone, or tablet by a website from a domain other than the one they are currently viewing. This contributes to saving users actions and behaviours, thus enhancing, and customizing future interfaces. Some common applications of third-party cookies are ad serving, retargeting, and cross-site tracking.

How will third-party cookie deprecation affect targeted ads?

Digital advertisers have long used third-party cookies as an easy way to target, pace, measure, and personalize their campaigns. Research by Epsilon indicates that 80% of advertisers rely on third-party cookies, and 70% feel that digital advertising overall will take a step backward with cookie deprecation.

Without third-party cookies, digital media firms fear the ways to reach their customers and prospects online. The decline will impose limitations on the availability of behavioural and browsing data, making it difficult to tailor personalized content. It also raises questions about performance measurement and matrix, resulting in wasted advertising and an overall decline in consumer-centric marketing.

Moreover, since most advertisers rely on third-party cookies, their deprecation will require marketers to scout for alternative methods to connect with customers and prospects in the online space.

 What does third-party cookie deprecation mean for consumers?

 A world without third-party cookies promises a more secure digital environment, reducing the risk of unauthorized data collection and giving users greater control over their online identities. This shift empowers individuals to decide what information they share and with whom, fostering a sense of trust in the online space.

The way forward for marketers

Marketers will need to come up with a new method of online identification in the absence of third-party cookies if they want to keep customizing messaging, streamlining campaigns, and tracking performance.

Collaboration and creativity become critical success factors as the digital ecosystem adjusts to a future without third-party cookies. All AdTech and measurement partners ought to have a well-thought-out strategy independent of third-party cookies. One potential solution could be the use of first-party data, which involves collecting and analysing data directly from users who have willingly provided their information. This approach allows marketers to build more personalized and targeted campaigns based on user preferences and behaviours. For instance, Epsilon designed CORE ID with built-in privacy in 2007 and has been strengthening the identity graph with direct publisher relationships since 2012.

Additionally, exploring alternative technologies such as contextual advertising or advanced machine learning algorithms could also help marketers adapt to the changing landscape of online identification.

Despite its difficulties, third-party cookie deprecation presents an opportunity to create an online space that prioritizes individual privacy. However, to shape a digital future that protects user privacy while providing meaningful experiences, stakeholders must collaborate, innovate, and remain committed to ethical principles.