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Thought Leadership & Enablement
January 19, 2022

How to Navigate Through a Cookieless Future: A Guide for Marketers

We’re headed for a cookieless future as Google plans to phase out third-party cookies. Learn what this means and how you can prepare as a marketer.

Jenna Galletti
Content Marketing Specialist
Cookieless future: Two smiling coworkers look at a laptop together

The cookieless future is here and it's a no-cookie zone. Third-party cookies have been around since the dawn of the internet, but their days may be numbered as companies are now turning to alternative methods for data collection, tracking and prioritizing user privacy. 

As cookie-based tracking becomes increasingly difficult, companies are relying on zero-party data to identify users and target them with tailored experiences. As the cookieless future continues to unfold, it's clear that zero-party data will be the way of the future and third-party data is out.

‘The Death of the Cookie’ — What Is Happening?

Back in 2020, Google made the game-changing announcement that they will be phasing out third-party cookies in the Chrome browser. Marketers everywhere gasped in horror. But what does this mean for the future of digital advertising?

Google’s moves to stop using third-party cookies means that advertisers will need to think outside the cookie jar when it comes to targeting, tracking user data and data privacy.

However, this new ecosystem without cookies does not necessarily mean the end of digital advertising as we know it! Even though the "death" of the cookie sounds frightening (and somewhat hilarious when you say the statement out loud) there's an opportunity to reframe this seismic shift as a monumental opportunity. 

The adjusted (and potentially still moving) deadline to when the cookies will fully be banished is late 2024. This gives marketers, advertisers and industry leaders the time needed to not only plan, but to capitalize. The cookieless era will bring with it a new way of collecting personal data which relies on a zero-party data/first-party data strategy — that is, information that customers have willingly given to the brand.

What Is a ‘Cookie’?

Since a cookieless future is now firmly on the horizon for businesses and marketers, understanding what this means for you and your strategy is essential. For starters, it’s important to understand exactly what a cookie is and how it’s used today.

Cookies are small pieces of text that websites store in browsers or devices to help them remember important information, such as preferences and user data. They are used in a wide range of activities including targeted advertising, user tracking, and more.

While cookies have been incredibly useful for businesses and marketers over the years, there’s now an increasing push towards technologies that don’t rely on them to function. Businesses and marketers must now start adopting such technologies to prepare for a cookieless future.

What Are Third-Party Cookies?

Cookieless future: A confused woman holds a chocolate-chip cookie

Third-party cookies are created by domains other than the website visited. They can be used to track user behavior across multiple sites, enabling targeted advertising and other services. Third-party cookies are being phased out due to privacy concerns. As a result, companies are turning to zero-party data, data that is collected straight from consumers, rather than third-party data to deliver personalized experiences for more accurate user tracking and targeted advertising.

Why Are Third-Party Cookies Controversial?

The practice of using third-party cookies has been increasingly criticized as it compromises user privacy. Essentially, it provides a way for companies to spy on their users through targeted ads.

Many web browsers such as Safari, Google Chrome, and Firefox have taken steps to block third-party cookies, leading to the cookieless future we are now facing. 

Companies and marketers must now shift their online advertising and data collection policies in order to combat this issue and comply with consumer privacy regulations. 

What Are First-Party Cookies?

First-party cookies are created by the website and belong to the domain where users can be identified. These cookies are accessible only to the domain on which they were issued, meaning that third parties cannot access them. They are mainly used for user authentication and remembering user preferences in order to offer a more personalized user experience and customer journey.

First-party cookies can be used to identify and track user behavior on a specific website. They enable companies to offer more personalized customer experiences, such as remembering preferences and customer information.

What Is the Difference Between First-Party Cookies and Third-Party Cookies?

The main difference between first-party and third-party cookies is that while first-party cookies are associated with the website that created them, third-party cookies are set by a domain other than the one being visited.

While first-party cookies provide insights into user preferences, third-party cookies enable tracking and targeted advertising across multiple sites. With the cookieless future looming, companies are looking to zero-party data as an alternative to make up for the loss of third-party cookies.

What You Can Expect in a Cookieless World

Three coworkers collaborate while gathered around a laptop

So, what can you expect from all of this? For starters, it’s likely that privacy-focused alternatives to cookies will be developed and adopted in order to protect personal data. Additionally, marketers will have to become more creative in their messaging and approach to targeting, as cookieless technologies don’t allow for the same level of user tracking and personalization that cookies do. 

A cookieless future may seem daunting, but with the right strategies and tactics, it doesn’t have to be. With careful planning, businesses and marketers can be prepared to capitalize on cookieless opportunities while also protecting user data in an increasingly privacy-focused world.

How You Can Prepare and Capitalize on a World Without Third-Party Cookies

The good news is that there are a number of steps businesses and marketers can take in order to prepare for a cookieless future. 

Zero-Party Data

First, it’s important to develop a sound zero-party data strategy. By leveraging Jebbit experiences to collect consensual user data in real-time, you’ll be ahead of the game. Jebbit experiences ask users about their interests, preferences and motivations in order to provide them with a product that best suits their needs. The brand understands the user behavior which enables them to provide the customer with a product they are likely to buy. It’s a win-win!

Contextual Advertising and Targeting

Other actionable steps to take is using contextual advertising and contextual targeting to reach the right audiences.

Contextual advertising is a type of online ad that is tailored to the user’s interests and is served based on the content they are viewing. It allows advertisers to target ads more accurately by using information such as searched keywords, visited websites, and overall browsing behavior. Unlike traditional forms of advertising which rely on third-party data and cookies, contextual advertising relies on a cookieless approach and offers users more control over their privacy.

Learning About Users on Social Media 

Another way brands can prepare is by leveraging audience insights from cookieless sources such as social media. Using social media to gain audience insights is all about understanding the behaviors, preferences and motivations of the people you're trying to reach through interactive, personalized experiences. 

When businesses understand their audiences on these cookieless channels, brands can create and target more effective campaigns to reach the right people.

Are You Ready to Capitalize on a Cookieless Future?

Capitalizing on a digital marketing strategy that collects first/zero-party data enables consumers to get as much out of sharing their information as the company collecting it does. 

Everyone benefits — the marketer, the customer, the privacy advocate, and the regulators. Everyone. The key element that will save marketers in the cookieless world is collecting and activating first/zero-party data at scale.

Now that we have discussed what the future for marketers looks like and how you can prepare, it’s time to get going on it! Jebbit is here to walk you through the zero-party data journey any brand can benefit from, especially in a world without third-party cookies. 

Click here and we'll provide a consultative and educational approach on how you can get winning in the cookie-less world today!

Jenna Galletti
Content Marketing Specialist

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