The End of the Third-Party Cookie

What is Going on With Google?

You’ve likely heard by now that in 2022, Google plans to phase out third-party cookies in its Chrome browser. This is a change that has been anticipated by the tech industry for quite some time. While Safari and Firefox made this move back in 2013, Chrome has the lion’s share of the browser market, making this a far more significant blow to online advertisers. 

This move follows a demand from users for increased privacy and security, including more transparency and control over their own data on the internet. 

Because internet privacy laws are always under scrutiny, it’s critical for those of us in the advertising world to stay up to date on potential changes and consider strategies that are less vulnerable to governance or new regulations. 

We’ve got a little rundown to help Brands and Digital Agencies know what to expect and what to do next.

A Refresher on Cookies 

Need to get your cookies straight? No judgement. We’ve all clicked through without reading the fine print before! 

Third-party cookies, the ones currently on the chopping block, have been in use for years. We use them to track website visitors, collect data that helps us target ads to the right people, and learn about what else our visitors are checking out online. This data allows us to target advertisements to the right audiences by letting us know what people are up to on the internet even when they aren’t on our websites. 

You know when you searched for hiking boots because you needed a new COVID hobby, and one particular ad followed you around the internet for days? You can thank third-party cookies for that! 

Get the full rundown here.

What Does This Mean for Marketers?

We don’t need to panic over this change, but we do need to navigate possible solutions and alternatives. 

The online advertising industry has always been, and will always be, subject to new and changing regulations — with third-party cookies on the verge of becoming obsolete, it’s time to adapt and restructure.  

Because browsers like Safari and Firefox had already disallowed third-party cookies, it hasn’t really been our best asset for some time anyways. As we mentioned earlier, a renewed effort to focus on less-vulnerable alternatives is a great idea right now. 

The loss of third-party cookies is prompting many advertisers to look in two different directions — old techniques and new technologies. 

Let’s take a look at some of your best bets for next steps.

Solutions and Alternatives

If you’re still relying on a lot of third-party data for your ad strategies, you don’t need to wait for this to take effect to begin the transition to alternatives.

  1. Make the Most of Your First-Party Data

Not all cookies are being banned, so you can rest assured that some of your data-driven marketing strategies are safe and sound. First-party cookies are the ones that track basic data about your visitors on your own website. 

This is an excellent time to leverage the first-party data you collect from your customers. This data is collected from your audience when they take actions across your site and is a critical component in creating the best possible user experience. 

First-party cookies allow you to build effective marketing strategies based on your visitor’s behavior and provide a user experience worth coming back to. 

  1. Shift Back to Contextual Targeting

One tried and true way to reach your customer base is to shift back to a focus on contextual targeting. This allows you to circulate PPC (pay-per-click) ads on websites that rank for similar keywords, topics, language, and location. 

Here’s an example of how this works: Let’s say you’re running ads for a boutique pet store in Calgary. Your ad could show up on all kinds of pet-oriented websites, particularly relative to that location. So people nearby who are searching for vet offices, dog parks, rescue agencies, or groomers could potentially see your ad. 

One of the big advantages of contextual targeting is that your ads appear on relevant, credible, and high-quality websites. 

  1. Get Acquainted With Google Privacy Sandbox

Now, it probably comes as no surprise that Google wouldn’t rip something out from underneath us without being prepared to offer up an alternative. The end of third-party cookies is no exception. 

Google’s new initiative, the Privacy Sandbox, is meant to remove the need to track users individually. Instead, it will provide businesses data from groups of like-minded users gathered via machine learning. According to Google, simulations suggest that marketers can expect to see around “95% of the conversions per dollar spent compared to cookie-based advertising.”

The aim is to strike a balance between tracking and privacy, resulting in consumers seeing the ads they want to see while not worrying about where their personal information is going. If this is successful, we could also eventually see a more trusting audience who is more likely to share their basic information with reputable companies. 

At the end of the day, we’re at the mercy of the tech industry and continually changing regulations. That said, adaptability has always been a hallmark of the advertising world, which is driven by innovative minds. 

Going forward, we have the opportunity to rethink how we use data and how we can protect ourselves from over-reliance on technology that may eventually be subject to regulation. Our industry is abundantly creative, not only in content but approach, and at Idea Rebel, we are ahead of the curve when it comes to tracking and implementing fresh opportunities to reach new audiences.

March 22, 2021