In the world of digital marketing, cookies have been the “‘sweet treats”‘ that fuel personalized online experiences. But, a massive shift is underway, and the impending phasing out of third-party cookies, a.k.a.: “Cookiepocalypse,” is set to reshape how advertisers approach user data.
In this blog, explore the world of cookies, the distinctions between first and third-party cookies, the history, and how advertisers can prepare for the seismic shifts in 2024.
Digital cookies, or HTTP cookies, are snippets of data generated as users navigate the web. Think of every webpage as a cookie, and your visit and actions as the data or “crumbs” left behind. Those small data files help create a more personalized experience based on the behavior and preferences the user takes online.
An important distinction is that anyone can create a third-party cookie, but first-party data is only created by the host website. First-party cookies are generally known as more valuable than third-party data because the host owns your information rather than building upon someone else’s.
Here are some use-cases of the two types of cookies:
- First-party cookies: There are several ways but most common are, 1) you visit a website and login with your user-ID and password, 2) you create a wishlist or placed items in your cart, and 3) the website then determines based on that behavior other items for you to purchase.
- Third-party cookies: It’s a slightly different concept so rather than just going to a particular website, third-party cookies may 1) track you across multiple websites to analyze purchase behavior, 2) you get re-targeted/shown an ad for a website that sells products you have browsed previously or 3) you are simply served an ad that targets your based on your behaviors.
Data & Privacy Concerns
Consumers have been pushing back in the last few years about the collection of data. With that growing awareness of the digital footprints users leave, it began to pave the way for the depreciation of third-party cookies. In fact, the majority of browsers these days have settings that allow users to reject most cookies, but more drastic measures are ahead. Tech giants, like Google and Apple have begun the initial phase-out of third-party cookies this year.
A Brief History of Cookies
The topic of cookies is not only complex but it has a long history. Take a look at a brief rundown of the history and what is on the horizon:
- 1994: Cookies introduced.
- 2011: EU law mandates cookie consent.
- 2020: Google announces third-party cookie phase-out by 2023.
- 2022: Delayed to late 2024 due to industry feedback and the need for extensive testing of Privacy Sandbox technologies.
- 2024 (January 4th): Chrome will restrict website access to third-party cookies for 1% of users, in an effort to limit cross-site tracking on the web.
- 2024 (mid-year): Google Chrome to completely disable third-party cookies.
Advertiser Preparedness in 2024
The burning question on everyone’s mind has been, “how do we prepare?” Here is a quick rundown gathered by our team of experts:
- Reduce Dependence on Third-Party Data: Shift towards first-party and purchase intent data to maintain effective audience targeting.
- Website Compliance: Make sure your website aligns with cookie requirements, both state and international, to operate seamlessly.
- Build First-Party Data: Leverage platforms that allow uploading of brand-owned data, enhancing precision in reaching target audiences.
- Engage with Technology Partners: If you already haven’t, talk with technology and service partners to understand their strategies and solutions for the changing landscape.
As the industry adapts to the evolving privacy landscape, advertisers can proactively prepare for the phasing out of cookies by embracing alternative data sources and aligning with emerging privacy standards.
Need more help? Contact our team of experts.
Remember: the era of more transparent digital practices is on the horizon and you don’t want to be left behind.