Anyone who has ever browsed the internet can’t have escaped cookies (in the HTTP sense of the term). Each site you visit downloads cookies into your computer to provide you with a better user experience. There are essential first-party cookies, and then there are third-party cookies used by brands to collect site visitor data and target the right people for their online marketing campaigns.
Third-party cookies are usually safe, but the way they collect data and user information does not tend to sit well with modern internet users. However, they are set to become obsolete in the near future, and brands will need to adapt to a cookie-free net.
Why are Cookies Disappearing?
How third-party cookies collect visitor data raises concern that this type of cookie may put users online privacy at risk. As a result, they tend to opt not to receive third-party cookies. Furthermore, the California Consumer Privacy Act will soon require major tech companies to get the permission of users to share their data. The fact, though, is that a large portion of internet users are unaware as to how their data is used across various online platforms.
All of these set into motion the incoming obsolescence of third-party cookies. The final nails in the third-party cookie coffin came in the last two years. The first was Google’s announcement in 2020 that it was developing standards to increase user control and data transparency. Then, in 2021, Apple’s iOS14.5 release brought in App Tracking Transparency, which requires a deliberate opt-in from users to permit software to track them across apps.
Targeting Customers Without Third-party Cookies
Fortunately, it’s still possible to execute customer-targeting strategies without the use of third-party cookies. In a recent article, Deloitte has detailed some great strategies to help companies adapt in a cookie-less world:
- Focus on first-party data. Essential first-party cookies will not disappear with their third-party brethren, so many brands are moving their analytical focus to first-party data. Such data covers email opt-ins and site activity. They can still yield information vital to traditional online marketing methods like email marketing and programmatic media advertisements, and brands are starting to use them in increasingly sophisticated ways.
- Nurture rich first-party data by offering consumer value. Visitors willingly exchange their information for something that may be of value to them, but you will need to think long-term in this regard. To achieve this end, you may need to employ customer-value strategies like gamification or loyalty programs.
- Source data through valuable partnerships. Large tech companies and media publishers typically hold massive libraries of first-party data. Cultivating deeper relationships with these third-party organisations will practically give you welcome access to such well-guarded information, as well as rich insights that could drive your new, cookie-free targeting approach.
- Take time to evaluate your data analysis methods. Set a solid foundation for your new prospecting and retargeting methods by looking into your current analytics. You may need to give up on an individualised approach, which is expected to be less feasible without third-party cookies. Instead, you may need to look into a more group-oriented approach to targeted advertising.