It’s true! Third-party cookies are on their way out, driven by tighter regulations (from both lawmakers and tech players) and growing consumer demands for data privacy, informed consent, and visibility of data collection and processing.
There’s been a lot of attention given to the demise of cookies but the extent to which brands and retailers understand the implications varies. Let’s be clear, it’s not the death of all cookies, or the ability to collect and store data on a device. But it will have a big impact on the digital advertising ecosystem.
The Future is Not Cookie-Less!
It’s only third-party cookies that are disappearing: tracking cookies placed on a website through scripts or tags, typically for paid advertising purposes to identify users across digital assets. These tracking cookies are sent to a user’s browser by the websites they visit, thus providing rich data - like search history, most frequently visited sites, purchasing history - to help understand the user’s behaviour.
Whilst Google (the largest search browser with over 65% global share) has provided yet another stay of execution for third-party cookies through its Chrome browser until the second half of 2024, it will not be building any alternative form of identifier to track customers across sites. The other two main browsers, Safari and Firefox, already block third-party cookies. Safari brought in its blockers as far back as 2017 and shortened first-party cookie lookback windows from 7 days to 24 hours in 2019. Firefox has been blocking cookies as a default since 2019.
First-party cookies are set and directly stored by the publishers’ web server enabling website owners to collect analytics data, remember user settings and provide functionality for an enhanced user experience. All browsers support first-party cookies, although an individual user can change individual cookie settings.
The Future is First-Party Data & Consent Management
Whilst much attention has been given to the demise of third-party cookies, let’s not forget, depending on the countries you operate in, there’s also a minefield of regulations in, or coming in, to force governing cookie consent management (including first-party cookies).
For example, many EU countries now require websites to:
obtain explicit “opt-in” consent to tracking (and in some cases, scrolling can no longer be deemed to be implied consent)
provide clear cookie banners
provide increased rights to withdraw consent at any time
maintain records of consent.
And in the USA, amendments to the CCPA with the introduction of CCPRA in January 2023 will result in additional consumer rights regarding targeted advertising and data that is sold or shared.
If you've relied on third-party cookies as an essential element of your acquisition and targeting strategies, it’s time to wean yourself off these and replace them with a robust first-party data and consent management strategy.
What Does it Mean in Practice?
In essence, brands and retailers will no longer be able to track consumers across websites or target consumers based on their search history. This will impact programmatic advertising and media attribution models the most and brands won't be able to acquire new audiences by targeting and re-targeting advertising through tracking.
Channels and mediums that are less likely to be affected include website analytics tracking (Google Analytics***), paid search and social media, contextually targeted adverts (ie. directly related to the content of the website/page, not a tracking identifier), and walled gardens platforms (like Facebook Audience Network and Google Adwords) as they don’t rely on third-party cookies.
If you still use third-party cookies for targeting customers, it’s time to adapt and find a new approach, one that is built on transparency and trust. Clear consent with clarity on the value to the consumer for handing over their data is a requisite.
And let’s not forget, you’ll need to assess the impact of having no third-party tracking data to measure and analyse metrics like campaign effectiveness and attribution models, as well as what it means for collecting and segmenting your audience data.
How Do I Do This???!
First-party data. It’s no longer a nice-to-have, it’s the future!
It’s time to shine with the data you own. Adopt a clearly defined first-party data strategy, including sound consent, preference management and identity solutions, alongside a true single customer view.
Naturally, we’re big advocates of first-party data and single customer view. Call us biased, but we know from our years of experience working with brands and retailers how successful first-party data and single customer view are for retaining customers and growing a loyal and engaged following with higher lifetime values.
A customer and retail data platform like Datitude’s solution is an essential foundation for advanced analytics capabilities; from identifying and connecting online and offline customer data, to customer segmentation and rich analytics. It turns insight into action, with more personalised experiences and drives more profitable business outcomes.
If you’ve not started the journey towards a world without third-party cookies, here’s how to start taking control of your data:
Define future needs – consider your tech solutions and integrated stack, partners, alternative revenue models from acquisition, and geolocation-based regulatory requirements
And then, develop your action plan based on your business priorities.
*** With just over a year before Google sunsets Universal Analytics (UA), there’s an urgent need for brands and retailers to make the move to GA4, Google's next-generation analytics solution. Don’t leave it too late as you’ll need to build your historical data before UA stops processing traffic. We have lots of experience with the transition from UA to GA4 and have written a blog to highlight what you need to know and do.
We do data! Datitude's customer and retail data platform solution enables businesses to make sense of their data. Combining data warehouse and data lake, systems integration, and business intelligence, Datitude's platform integrates, processes and unifies your key data from multiple systems and channels, both on and offline, to unleash the most powerful customer and trading insights. Whatever the data source, we can process it.
Business intelligence, reports, and analytics are built-in and automated as standard, including visualisations and sophisticated interactive dashboards. Get a single customer view, lifetime value, segmentation analysis, product and customer loyalty analytics, device insights, and more.
If you need to turn your data into valuable intelligence, insight, and action, give us a call today on 020 3003 5000 or email: firstname.lastname@example.org.