A ‘cookie’ is a term for a packet of data that a computer receives, then sends back without changing or altering it. For example, when you visit a website, the website sends the cookie to your computer. Your computer stores it in a file located inside your web browser.

Cookies have been around since the early 90s and marketers have relied on both first and third-party cookies to collect data, tailor adverts and better understand consumer behaviour. Earlier this year Google announced their plans to phase out third-party cookies within the next two years on Google Chrome, following the likes of Safari and Firefox browsers meaning that by 2022 most of the internet will be third-party cookie free.

So what does this mean? Marketers are going to have to change how they are obtaining information and tracking the user journey to personalise advertising and measure ROI.


What Are Cookies and How Do We Use Them Today?

First Party Cookies

First-party cookies are created and stored by the website you are visiting. It allows site owners to collect data, remember language settings, and carry out other useful functions that help provide a good user experience.

As third-party cookies begin to be phased out, marketers must rely more heavily on the data collected by first-party cookies, for example website sessions and session duration, however the ability to track a user’s behaviour elsewhere will be lost.

Third Party Cookies

Third-party cookies are tracking codes that are placed on a web visitor’s computer after being generated by another website other than your own. When a web visitor visits your site and others, the third-party cookie tracks this information and sends it to the third-party who created the cookie, for example an advertising platform such as Facebook Ads. There are a few ways that marketers use third-party cookies to understand user behaviour.

  • Measurement
  • Personalisation
  • Retargeting
  • Behavioural targeting

4 Ways To Prepare for a Future Without Third-Party Cookies

With third-party cookies looking to be completely phased out by 2022, marketers need to get creative and explore new ways to measure performance and tailor personalised content to the consumer.

1. Measuring ROI

Without third-party, tracking conversions will become increasingly more difficult. Specifically, multi touch attribution, view-through conversions and post impression/click activity as these will no longer exist without a unified tracking solution. Without access to this tracking data, ad exposure and site engagement will be difficult to measure.

It’s likely that models of measurement will move to lift studies and revert to last-click metrics at first, until KPIs are adjusted to fit the new system. The use of APIs will also become a necessity to track conversions across third party advertising platforms.

2. Personalisation

As we see third-party cookies begin to phase out, we’ll also begin to see the third party audiences provided by media partners reduce in size meaning advertisers will have to change tactics to develop prospecting strategies.

Many organisations such as Google and Facebook will continue to deliver audience data through the use of first party cookies. Companies will be forced to use data capturing mechanisms for targeting and personalisation with users who have already engaged with your brand.

3. Rethinking Remarketing

We’re sure you are sick and tired of brands targeting you with that lovely pair of shoes you’ve just been looking at online, but without the ability to embed tracking code onto a website it will be more difficult to retarget users as they move to another site. Although that might be great for consumers, it’s a new nightmare for marketers.

Marketers will need to build and maintain trusted relationships with consumers though user provided information instead of tracking data. The data you collect can also be used for creating lookalike audiences, which have proven to be a very effective target audience. Over coming years we may see opportunities such as device recognition and algorithmic retargeting are on the horizon, but we’re not there just yet.

4. Making Use of First Party Data

How can you collect and integrate first party data? First you will need to make sure your data collection is compliant with GDPR by making sure users provide consent with the data they provide. Try engaging with users to gain more information and build meaningful relationships as these will become increasingly more important.

We Are Here To Help

With third-party cookies being phased out by 2022 there is still plenty of time to prepare for the challenges that lie ahead and develop creative methods of measuring digital campaigns and personalising content. Partner with Noble Performs to develop a digital marketing strategy that will thrive without the existence of third-party cookies.