Posted: 13 Dec 2021 Contributor: Ghia Marnewick
The End of Cookies: What Does It Mean to Advertisers and What Comes Next
We’re starting this article a bit differently, we’re going to ask you an important question. As a marketer, where do you get your most important customer data from? More than likely, third-party cookies are helping you get to know your customers. As convenient as this process has been, things in the world of online marketing are about to change.
The folks at Google have announced that from 2022, they will not be supporting third-party cookies in their Google Chrome browser. Considering the fact that around 3.2 billion people around the world have Chrome as their default browser, this is certainly bringing about a rather dramatic change.
What are cookies?
In case you didn't know, cookies are a feature marketers and web developers use to track the activity of people visiting their websites as well as the pages they switch to after visiting the site. These cookies collect important user data that can be used to improve marketing efforts.
Google’s announcement about not supporting cookies means that this information and data will no longer be available. Well, they won’t be as easily available. Marketers will need to reach out to the customers directly to determine their needs and wants.
This announcement is by no means a new topic for discussion. In fact, the company had first brought it up in February 2020. Chrome isn't the first browser to do this. Firefox and Safari started blocking third-party cookies back in 2013 already. Chrome is, however, the biggest browser to make this change. In doing so, this is the final nail in the coffin with many dubbing this the “death of the cookie”.
The increasing pressures to ensure data privacy in the ever-evolving digital world have played a part in this somewhat drastic change to Chrome's usability. While data privacy is an important aspect to consider, it will influence how marketers are able to review and access user data. This has led to the announcement receiving mixed responses from businesses and individuals alike.
The world’s reaction to the end of cookies
According to HubSpot, marketers are concerned that they won’t have access to “the right data”. In an attempt to keep up with their performance, 44% of the marketers surveyed anticipate that they will need to increase their spending by as much as 25% to meet the same requirements that they were able to in 2021.
Email marketing is set to increase in popularity as marketing professionals attempt to connect with their customers directly.
How Chrome will be delivering data insights
Google's range of ad tools already offers marketers access to so much important user data. With the disappearance of third-party cookies, Google's tracking methods will be powered by APIs aimed at preserving data privacy while offering insightful data to marketers and advertisers.
This change will only really impact marketers that had heavily relied on third-party cookies for data. Any marketing professional worth their salt should have multiple data collection methods in place, and this announcement should not cause that much of a change to their marketing strategy.
It’s not all bad news
In the age of digital, there’s bound to be new technologies arising to make data collection effortless while protecting the privacy of online users. The first thing worth noting is the first and second-party cookies are not going to be disappearing. This means that marketers simply need to rethink the way in which they access and use this data.
A first-party cookie is a unique code that is stored on a website visitor's computer or mobile device. The most basic purpose of this is storing user login details. You can also use this type of cookie to monitor user experience and the way in which they interact on your website. This differs from third-party cookies in that you can only access insights based on the activity happening on your website and affiliated domains.
Third-party cookies offer tracking abilities beyond that of your website. This provides a more holistic overview of the online activity of all people visiting your website. For example, which other websites they visited, online purchases, and other online interests.
First-party cookies are automatically accepted when someone visits your website, however, if you use third-party cookies, users need to be given the option to accept or reject the functionality.
You can still track website visitors
Third-party cookies are the only cookies being disabled. First and second-party cookies are still very much available and will provide access to basic information such as user information, demographics, and location. For information above and beyond this, you'll have to get creative with the strategy to connect with your customers.
A cookie-free future: You can work around it
One of the first ways in which you can navigate your way around a world without third-party cookies is by using Google's Privacy Sandbox.
In a similar fashion to a children’s sandbox, it is a space where marketers can come together to share as well as access anonymous user data. This means that targeted ads can still reach the relevant audience without breaching user privacy.
Of course, nothing beats good old-fashioned consumer engagement – and marketers will need to find ways to encourage users to engage with the brand. One of the most powerful ways of doing so is by playing on their audience's emotions to evoke some sort of reaction or response. This needs to be done with caution as the results may not always be what you expect them to be.
Above and beyond this, you need to be more thoughtful about the content you’re putting out there. Conceptual marketing campaigns that have the research to back the effort will reap impressive benefits and should be considered.
If you do wish to reach out to customers directly – or even try to utilize third-party cookies – you need to give users the freedom to opt-in or out. In doing so, you give them the choice to engage with your brand while respecting their privacy.
It’s about rethinking your approach
The end of cookies is not the end of marketing or accessing user data. It is merely an opportunity to rethink stale marketing practices in a way that respects the end-user while offering your business insightful data.