‘Tis the season for all things cookies – baking them, swapping them, decorating them, getting ready for their eradication… Well, the last one just pertains to 3rd party cookies, thank goodness! (Sorry, a little advertising humor.) And while we want you to enjoy all of the edible cookies in your offline world, we also want to make sure you’re preparing for a cookie-less future online.

What exactly is a 3rd-party cookie? It’s a text file that captures user data by a domain the user did not visit. It is a big part of digital advertising as it has been the industry’s go-to means for targeting, optimizing, and tracking performance. However, it has come under fire over the past few years due to data breaches and user privacy concerns.

As a result, data privacy laws have been developed, such as GDPR and CCPA, but an even more impactful development has been browsers taking the issue into their own hands. The biggest (cookie-related) announcement this year came from Chrome, which will eliminate the 3rd-party cookie by 2022. Given that Chrome is the largest user browser, this announcement has forced the digital advertising industry to rethink and evolve on how they collect and use user data, and do so quickly.

So, what will the internet look like without 3rd-party cookies? The fact is that we don’t know. What we do know is that it will revolve around a new set of user identifiers that will likely center around emails and logins. This will look different depending on if you are advertising on the open web (think programmatic banners) or through closed web environments (platforms including Google and Facebook). The open web solutions seem to be falling in line behind The Trade Desk’s Universal ID 2.0 solution, which uses a random ID generator after log-ins to be used across sites. The closed web solutions are differing by platform — with Facebook, for example — using its own Facebook Conversion API for client sites to integrate directly with the Facebook platform instead of going through the browser for data collection.

Even with a new user identification, the post-cookie world will come with challenges, including limitations on audience targeting, harder-to-manage reach and frequency, and complications for measuring and attributing performance. We know that KPI goals and benchmarks will need to be reassessed and recalibrated as we move to click-based attribution. Also, performance and media abilities will more greatly depend on access to 1st-party data and immediate creative engagement. While we expect there to be a time of industry flux from the cookie to a new user ID, this will eventually lead to a better, authenticated web.

To help prepare for the cookie-less world and ensure your digital advertising remains effective, you should start implementing customer connection strategies that include:

  • Building your 1st-party data while users are on your site and encouraging logins to build cross-device IDs
  • Incorporating SDKs to your mobile app to gather information on actions users take while engaging with the app
  • Investing in CRM & CDP tool(s) to capture and organize the info shared by people during interactions with your business in the online and offline world
  • Using eye-catching ad images and messages, especially where niche targeting won’t be available in 2022, to encourage user engagement. The click will be essential.

We’d love to talk to you more about the cookie-less future and what your business can do right now to prepare. Contact your account representative or shoot us an email.

Posted on 
December 15, 2020