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The Cookieless Future – What You Need to Know

What is happening with cookies?

The end of third-party cookies is close. In a data privacy-driven world, cookies are coming under increased scrutiny as an instrument that tracks individual behavior on websites, sometimes without the user’s consent or knowledge.

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Why is this happening?

The collection of data from third-party cookies, and the perceived lack of privacy from consumers, has become an increasingly important issue across the world. Legislation in the European Union and California has pushed for putting the privacy of users ahead of the ease of data collection. Since 2017, various web browsers, social media platforms, and other platforms have started to phase out third-party cookies to increase user privacy.

When will cookies disappear?

Safari and Firefox have already made significant steps toward limiting the use of third-party cookies. Google is planning on making them obsolete by 2022, with initial phases as early as February 2021.

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The implications in marketing.

While being done to protect the users’ right to data privacy, it also minimizes the hold over the ad spend market by making user data much less accessible to third parties.
Advertisers could lose as much as 70% of the data they currently have access to for marketing efforts due to Firefox updates, other browser changes. (Source: Ad Age)

Digital marketers will have a much harder time creating targeted ads based on an individual’s data. There will be a loss of detailed audience and behavioral profiling initially, as well as a direct hit to the efficacy of ads, but industry leaders like the Trade Desk and IAB will come up with alternative solutions for the future of the open Internet. UTM parameters and Google Analytics events will not be impacted by these changes.

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How should I move forward?

There are several options and strategies moving forward for how to maintain success in the digital marketing arena, without the old access to data through third-party cookies:

1. Targeting groups of similar individuals, rather than a single individual.
  • Google’s Privacy Sandbox seeks to cluster users based on similar characteristics. This preserves the anonymity of the individual, while still allowing ad buyers to target clusters at a relatively granular level.
2. A universal ID that tracks a user’s data while keeping it anonymized to the advertiser.
  • This ID could be implemented through a browser or hardwired into a user’s device. If the latter option moves forward, browsers would need to collaborate with the device manufacturer to ensure its success.
  • The Trade Desk and IAB Tech Lab are working on a unified open ID solution that would tap into encrypted email addresses.
3. Leveraging more first-party data to power lead digital marketing strategy.
  • This makes it more important than ever for brands and agencies to ensure that a sound first-party data strategy is in place. Are you collecting lead or contact forms? Do you have whitepaper downloads that you can collect user information from?

The only thing certain in the digital marketing landscape is change. With these looming changes, it is imperative to be adaptable and innovative in developing a solution well in advance to ensure you’re not left behind.

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