Third-party cookies are going away: How marketers can prepare

July 8, 2021

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Marketers, advertisers, and publishers have to face a significant change in their way of doing business with the announcement that third-party cookies are going away for good.

Third-party cookies have been a mainstay for tracking, data collection, and ad personalization and targeting. Now many browsers have deprecated the use of third-party cookies. In fact, the browser that owns 65% of the market share — Google Chrome — is the last holdout in this area. But it’s also promised that by 2023, its browsing services will be cookie-free.

In the massive gap left in the wake of third-party cookies going away, organizations must adjust their consent strategies. That’s not necessarily a bad thing, though. 

As these cookies go away, the most valuable component to your work will be building trust with customers.

Why third-party cookies are going away

Building trust with customers has been the motivator for browsers to do away with third-party cookies. The shifts regulations have inspired in privacy practices over the past few years make it clear marketing trends are moving towards transparency. 

Browsers are future-proofing themselves by adopting this strategy.

Privacy legislation has also helped shift consumer expectations and awareness. More and more, people want to know what types of data you’re gathering about them and how you’re using it. Although consumers may not understand the exact science of cookies, they know they’re being tracked. 

They expect you to be transparent about data collection practices and their options related to it. Furthermore, consent requirements for first-party cookies aren’t going anywhere! In fact, the end of third-party cookies isn’t the end of cookie banners or consent management platforms (CMP).

There’s an opportunity for advertisers to fulfill the expectation of transparency while taking advantage of different data strategies. There are other ways to create hyper-targeted, measurable campaigns, collect data directly from consumers, and protect your revenue. These methods of data collection will also prove to consumers you’ll respect their data, and provide an even value-exchange for it.

How to adjust your marketing strategy

Just because third-party cookies won’t exist anymore doesn’t mean you can’t collect data or share data with third parties. Don’t get rid of your cookie banner or CMP, as you’ll still need these as you experiment with other data collection strategies.

Locate your third-party cookies

The first step to plan for a cookie-less world is to understand where you’re leveraging third-party cookies. Many advertisers don’t realize all the places they’re using third-party cookies. It’s important you know the extent of where they live so you’re not caught unaware when they’re unavailable. 

Scan your website to gain full visibility into the data sources you’ll lose access to.

Invest in first-party data

The next step is to analyze and possibly increase your spend on walled garden advertising (e.g. Facebook) and identity-based placements. First-party data collection — building your own proprietary data to reach your audience — should also be something you invest in.

First-party data is one of four data types:

  • Zero-party data: Comes directly from consumers, usually when they opt in for communication preferences.
  • First-party data: Comes directly from consumers, usually when they make a transaction or as a requirement.
  • Second-party data: Another organization’s first-party data.
  • Third-party data: Aggregate data from different sources.

One way to capture first-party data is through first-party cookies. 

Whereas third-party cookies aren’t created by your website and are used for tracking across the web, your website does create and store first-party cookies. And they can only be used to target customers who are visiting your website.

Progressive profiling is another effective way to collect first-party data. You can show dynamic and logic-based displays based on geolocation, user data, and customer segments. Progressive profiling shows customers you want to learn more about their interests. 

If users ever want to opt-out, you can encourage an opt-down instead. This way, you stay connected with your customers while respecting their choice to receive less messaging or be tracked less. And there’s a chance you may actually improve your overall opt-in rates.

With third-party cookies going away, investing in first-party data is a no-brainer. You can:

  • Learn about your audience’s interests, preferences, characteristics, and behaviors— directly from them.
  • More accurately predict future customer behavior, improve your targeting, enhance your marketing campaigns, and hyper-personalize your content.
  • Build transparent relationships about data usage with customers.

It’s a whole new world for advertisers, marketers, and publishers. But if you can start building your first-party data strategy now, you’ll be prepared for the final deprecation of third-party cookies.

Conclusion: Turn to tech for first-party data management

With first-party data collection, you need a roadmap to build that trust. In the new cookieless world, companies who earn trust from customers will have a competitive advantage. Brand trust will be a differentiator with consumers.

And if you onboard technology to automate execution, you’ll be well fortified to carry out the plan. You’ll still need a Consent Management Platform (CMP) in order to comply with regulations and capture consent for other types of cookies and tracking technologies.

You also may want to sync with leading ID Solutions. After a user gives consent on the first property interaction, a unique identifier can be used for consent and preferences sync across domains and web, mobile, and CTV devices.

Finally, you’ll need to leverage integration workflows and connections to your full martech and adtech stack. This will make sure you’re honoring user choices in all your marketing, sales, and communications.

OneTrust PreferenceChoice is designed to help with all of this. Request a demo today to see it in action.

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