Future-Proofing Digital Marketing Strategies for a Post-Cookie World

By 2022 your digital marketing plan will be severely impacted if strategy is dependent on third party cookies or data for your digital advertising campaigns. 

Cookies – those bits of data about a user stored on a computer – drive so many digital marketing strategies right now. They influence how some marketing campaigns create audiences to serve ads to, how marketers can analyze outcomes, and so much more. But advertising cookies are losing impact, with some platforms doing away with cookie-based tracking and usage entirely. 

Do you know what role cookies play in your marketing efforts? Because you should be able to track every digital marketing campaign dollar from the first touchpoint through their entire customer journey without cookies.

How Cookies Work in Digital Advertising

First-party cookies are created by a website a user visits directly. They enable the owner of said website to collect data from visitors that makes the user experience better for a particular visitor each time they come to the page. Think things like remembering a geographic location or preferred language. 

Third-party cookies are created by domains other than the one a user is visiting directly. This information can be used for things like tracking a user’s behavior across several sites and serving targeted digital advertising. 

For years, digital marketers have been using third-party cookies to track website visitors, collect data, and improve user experience. However, the past few years have also seen an attempt to regulate the use of third party cookies due to privacy concerns. How data about individual users is viewed, collected, and used has become the subject of everything from news articles to actual legislation. Changes in attitude towards data collected, as well as legal ramifications for how personal identifying information is used by companies like digital advertisers, has led to significant changes in the use of cookies. 

Why are Digital Marketing Platforms Removing Third-Party Cookies and Why Does This Matter?

Apple’s Safari and Mozilla’s Firefox browsers have already effectively done away with cookies (and many related technologies) via ITP and ETP. These companies are citing privacy concerns and the increasing passage of legislation like GDPR and CCPA as reasoning for the move to eliminate third party cookies from their online search engines. 

Google is following suit, announcing it will do away with third-party cookies and data tracking within the Chrome browser. The company currently plans not to replace cookies with another third-party identifier that follows online users in order to preserve privacy and encourage alternate methods of personalized advertising. However, Google is struggling with implementing its new method and has already delayed its plan to remove cookies by two years.  

Without third party cookies and targeting identifiers, platforms are eliminating one of the key methods digital marketers use to run successful digital acquisition campaigns and marketers must continue to prepare for a world without this data.

How marketers should be preparing for a post-cookie world

First party data will be critical. These changes make first party data more important than ever and platforms like Google have signaled that they would like to deepen partnerships with first-party data holders. Social media platforms may see a boost as they already have an advantage due to how many interest-signals happen within their own platform and the data that generates for marketers. Additionally, using information you have collected from your own website will be crucial to continuing to reach your target users. Elements like a robust and up-to-date CRM that is integrated with your marketing campaigns and recording key user milestones will be critical. 

Pixels are still in. Third party cookies be blocked, but pixels will still be allowed as they are deployed through HTML/JS on the site and not stored in the browser memory itself. How dependent those pixels are on cookies to function will likely vary from pixel to pixel, but it is possible that pixels will continue to operate in a way that enables digital marketers to still deliver targeted advertising campaigns. 

Audience targeting will be impacted. This should be the most dramatic impact of this change. Without third party cookies, platforms that are known for collecting information on users across the internet will find it more difficult to do so. That is to say, Facebook knowing “you’re interested in X, Y, and Z” might be going away or they’ll just have to change how they decide to put someone in those categories. As companies decide how they may be able to develop interest-based or individualized targeting that still preserves privacy, digital marketers will need to develop strategies that don’t rely on the third party data they have been used to.  

Now is the time to rethink your digital ecosystem. Changes to the basis of digital marketing campaigns – data that is collected to give marketers the ability to target audiences – is here and while the full impact is still unknown, initial results show a seismic shift for marketers. Ensuring first-part data collection methods are sound, digital marketing strategies are robust with a full-suite of tactics to speak to audiences, and preparing for a future without third party cookies will be key to digital marketing success.

Need help preparing for a cookieless future? Reach out to our digital experts today!

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