(2 min. read) – The count-down to the demise of the third party cookie is well on the way as Google announced earlier this year that Chrome joins Safari and Firefox browsers in phasing out the cookie over the next two years in a bid to enhance user privacy and create a better online experience.
A quick guide to the demise of the 3rd Party Cookie and where to now
The count-down to the demise of the third party cookie is well on the way as Google announced earlier this year that Chrome joins Safari and Firefox browsers in phasing out the cookie over the next two years in a bid to enhance user privacy and create a better online experience. The announcement from Chrome is a game changer because it represents more than 65% of all browser installations. What does it all mean?
What do we use the 3rd party cookie for?
- The third party cookie underpins the standard model of online media buying, targeting and tracking
- They provide a tracking mechanism for ad tech measurement such as impression tracking, conversion tracking via adserver & cross device mapping
What are the current cookie restrictions by browser?
- Blocks 3rd party cookies in Safari by default
- 1st party cookie to have a maximum 24-hour life span
- Restricting the use of link decoration – a method of statically attaching extra information to the URL link that people click on
- Feb 2020 Chrome version requires more transparency on 3rd party cookies allowing users to block them more easily
- Full block of 3rd party cookies announced for 2022
- Browser extension to show who is adserving and collecting data
- ‘Aggressive restrictions’ on fingerprinting
- Blocks 3rd party cookies in Firefox by default
- Optional advanced setting – blocking all cookies, including 1st party
- Announced Digitrust universal ID will be blocked
What does the demise of the cookie mean for marketers?
- Tracking cookies power the current model of 1-1 advertising online. Their removal will hinder marketers’ ability to segment & target consumers with advertising using 3rd party data.
- Consumers still produce many data signals – that is information that is passed actively or passively from consumers as they interact with the digital economy such as making purchases and payments, search for things, click on ads, take on new loans for example or close out paid down loans. Each of these activities are signals that can be tracked, monitored and used to target advertising using real-time data collection where your customers are, including digital channels like the Web and mobile and non-digital channels like in-store and customer call centers. Capturing live intent signals as customers interact across all channels is key to engaging them with relevant content.
- As the value of 3rd party data diminishes the importance of 1st party data will grow. Marketers will need to invest in strengthening their 1st party data capabilities.
- The online user experience may improve eg no more annoying ads for items you’ve already bought.
What are the alternatives to the 3rd party cookie?
Some suggest the demise of the 3rd party cookie provides an opportunity for contextual advertising to reappear.
- Contextual advertising is targeting advertising based on the context for that advertising and would ensure that the advertising remained privacy compliant. Instead of manually selecting individual sites which are contextually appropriate, technical solutions would be deployed which use machine learning to deliver contextual targeting and analytics solutions for publisher and advertisers. The publishers can create a more accurate picture of page content, ensure that it’s classified accurately, and market inventory is created based on context. Advertisers can select an environment which is consistent with their brand and target based on context, whilst remaining privacy compliant.
- Use alternative non-cookie based targeting e.g. page content, device, time of day, geo, IP address
- Use ID based solutions – create a persistent user ID and share this with all parts of the media buying supply chain using a different technology, a functionality that is the closest to the 3rd party cookie. It works through publishers and as technology integrations, a unique user identifier is generated and stored in a persistent manner. This is passed as a variable through the auction supply chain, allowing the buyer to see if this ID is recognised.
- Walled gardens approach: A platform, or collaboration of platforms, that has sufficient reach for its single login to become a useful identifier. The ID is only available to be used within the platform.
What steps should marketers take?
- Start with an audit to understand reliance on 3rd party cookies
- Get 1st party data in order
- Educate internally on the issue and what can be done
- Start testing to understand what the alternative ‘mix’ looks like
- Have a dedicated team to map out the longer term and how 1st party data can be more central going forward.