Brinden Sillito

Brinden Sillito

Thought Leadership

The End of Third Party Cookies

The horizon of a cookie-less future is nearly here; Google Chrome has disabled third-party cookies for 1% of users in Q1 2024 with plans to ramp up to 100% of users by the end of the year. Apple Safari and Mozilla Firefox already completed similar processes, having removed third-party cookies entirely from their browsers. For advertisers, third-party cookies have been a primary-use tool for tracking user behavior across the internet to determine their intent and deliver relevant ads. 

With the complete removal of third-party cookies, we predict that there will be a prolonged latency in determining the intent of audiences and a degradation of precision targeting; effectively diminishing the productivity of ad spend. However, this side effect can be negated with a unique three-pronged approach: first-party data layering, enlarging your organic presence, and investing in top-funnel media. 

First-Party / Third-Party Data Layering 

First-party data layering is a two step process, (1) obtaining relevant data from your customer lists or website visitors and then (2) leveraging that data to create “look-a-like” audiences in your targeted advertising. Advertising platforms have become increasingly effective at using your current customer lists to target new prospects who have similar purchasing behaviors, psychographics, and demographics. It is also possible to purchase third-party customer lists from reliable third-party data providers to achieve the same results with more precise targeting. 

Enlarging Your Organic Presence 

Enlarging your organic online presence is key for helping customers passively discover your brand, which helps negate the effects of diminishing return on ad spend. Search engine optimization is the primary marketing activity for enlarging your online presence, though we recommend identifying your brand niche and owning that space in organic search results to avoid competing for hard-to-rank keywords. 

Investing in Top-Funnel Media 

Audience acquisition (as opposed to just audience conversion) will play an even bigger role as targeting becomes more restricted in a cookie-less world. Audience acquisition is best accomplished via top-funnel media placements such as Connected TV or Programmatic Display. These channels represent cost-effective mediums for driving significant awareness of your offerings and igniting customer journeys towards conversion.

The negative effects of a cookie-less world are negated when each of the strategies within this three-prong approach are synergized and work together to guide customers from awareness, to consideration, to conversion.

Differences between Third-Party Cookies and Third-Party Data

Third-Party Cookies:

  • Definition: Third-party cookies are small pieces of data stored on a user's computer or device by domains (websites) other than the one the user is currently visiting.

  • Usage: These cookies are primarily used for tracking users' online behavior across multiple websites. Advertisers and third-party providers use them to create user profiles, monitor interactions, and deliver targeted ads.

  • Control: Third-party cookies are typically set and controlled by external entities, not the website being visited.

  • Privacy Concerns: Third-party cookies have raised significant privacy concerns as they can be used to track users' activities across the web without their explicit consent.

  • Regulatory Restrictions: Many web browsers and regulations have imposed limitations on the use of third-party cookies to protect user privacy.

Third-Party Data:

  • Definition: Third-party data refers to information and insights about users collected by external data providers or organizations separate from the websites users visit.

  • Usage: In advertising, third-party data is often used to enhance targeting capabilities. Advertisers can access demographic, behavioral, and interest data about users from these third-party sources to create more precise audience segments for ad campaigns.

  • Sources: Third-party data sources can include data brokers, social media platforms, and other data providers that aggregate and sell user information.

  • Privacy: Privacy concerns also exist with third-party data, as it involves sharing and using user information from various sources. Advertisers must adhere to privacy regulations and ensure the ethical use of this data.

  • Control: Advertisers have more control over how they use third-party data compared to third-party cookies, but they must still comply with privacy regulations and user consent requirements.

Key Difference:

The primary difference between third-party cookies and third-party data lies in how they are collected and usage. Third-party cookies are specific to web tracking and involve the use of cookies placed on users' devices to track their online activities. In contrast, third-party data encompasses a broader range of user information collected from external sources, which can include demographics, interests, and behaviors. Advertisers use both for targeted advertising, but third-party data is not tied directly to web tracking via cookies and is obtained from various external data providers.