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The end of third-party cookies: what does it mean for marketers?

While other browsers (think Safari and Firefox) aren’t new to blocking third-party cookies, Google Chrome has been slow to kill these pieces of data. Typically used for online-advertising purposes, cookies allow advertisers to track a user or their device across various websites they continue to visit. Inherently, third-party cookies are not dangerous and don’t infect laptops with malicious viruses. However, they can be and are seen as an invasion of privacy by some digital users. So, why is Google phasing out third-party cookies, and how does it impact digital marketing strategy?

 

The decision to eliminate third-party cookies on Google Chrome is part of a larger plan to create a privacy sandbox, an “initiative [which] aims to create technologies that both protect people’s privacy online and give companies and developers tools to build thriving digital businesses […] reduc[ing] cross-site and cross-app tracking while helping to keep online content and services free for all.” Although the sandbox is helpful for resources, marketers must carefully revise their digital strategies to accommodate the change. Without cookies, connecting internet users with their digital behaviors will be more difficult. A few of the more promising emerging solutions for incorporating customer-provided data directly into marketing strategies include:

 

  • Contextual marketing: Instead of behavioral tracking, contextual advertising embraces keyword and topic-based targeting, often through AI and natural language processing, to determine ad placements on webpages. Users experience ads relevant to the content they consume, protecting privacy concerns. It also allows marketers to have greater control over where ads appear and, subsequently, ensue that those placements align with brand values.

 

  •  Cohort audiences: In a similar vein to contextual marketing, grouping users together by their interests  allows platforms to use activity information as a guide for delivering specific, consistent experiences. Analyzing the data related to how the defined cohorts interact with your business is an opportunity to develop highly efficient, effective, targeted campaigns which can ultimately impact conversion rates. As a bonus, this method also satisfies the ever-growing demand for personalization in digital spaces!

 

  • More First-Party data collection: First-Party data is already more accurate and reliable than other cookies (so no incentive needed to start upping data gathering!) . Leveraging targeted user experiences, such as through social media, and utilizing traditional collection methods like surveys and polls, event-based tracking, single sign-on, and user registration can help you understand your customers on a deeper level. Furthermore, investing in content creation, email marketing, and strengthening client or customer relationships aids in generating valuable insights.

 

What it means to maintain a presence online is constantly evolving. The elimination of third-party cookies is yet another example of how companies, marketers, and digital strategies must continue refining and adapting to stay on top. Google Chrome plans on completing the sunsetting of third-party cookies in the second half of 2024, but online businesses shouldn’t wait to start preparing for the inevitable.

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