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Life after death (of the cookie)

Gingerbread man
“Users are demanding greater privacy – including transparency, choice, and control over how their data is used – and it’s clear the web ecosystem needs to evolve to meet these increasing demands.” Justin Schuh, the Director of Chrome Engineering at Google

When it comes to providing free content to users online, third-party cookies have been at the core.

Of course, giving users access to such a wealth of free content online is a welcomed benefit. But what isn’t welcomed is the ability to track them across websites without their knowledge and without being transparent about what they are actually giving up – their private data.

But this isn’t to be confused with first-party cookies.

First-party cookies are a bit of code that gets generated on your computer when you visit a site – with the focus being on to improve user experience. It might auto-populate a password for you or give the brand information about the types of activities you did on their website and how often you spent time consuming editorial on different pages. Brands can (and should) use some of these basic analytics to develop effective marketing strategies around their customers.

What you can’t track with first-party cookies, is what users have been doing on other websites.

This is where third-party cookies come in – allowing you to learn about your web visitor’s overall online behaviours, such as websites they visit, purchases they make, interests they’ve shown by the types of topics they search. With this level of detail, advertisers can build robust visitor profiles.


Google are now making significant, necessary steps to abolish the third-party cookie, which is seen as a shift to a more ethical, transparent, and privacy-first solution to digital marketing as whole.


Although this is seen as a positive thing, industry experts are rightly questioning Google’s motivation for getting rid of third-party cookies – is it really to improve privacy for the end user or is it a move to further raise their walls and protect their position from the competition?


Regardless of their motive, this move is said to be happening imminently.


Forward-thinking brands and advertisers will be shifting their marketing strategies away from the third-party cookie and embracing alternative, innovative solutions.


We’re all too familiar with how quickly trends and landscapes evolve in ad land. And as creative marketers, we need to be constantly asking ourselves whether we’re too reliant on a particular technology – as its crucial to remain relevant when things eventually do change! And that time is now.

While some brands will likely start pouring more budget into the walled gardens, others will likely do very little and continue using third-party cookies until they cease to exist.

At Media Bounty we’re looking ahead and revitalising cookie-less strategies like contextual targeting, which isn’t constrained by privacy legislation as it doesn’t collect or use information about users.


While third-party data allows you to place ads directly in front of people who matched certain user profiles and behaviours, contextual advertising allows you to reach users in the context of the content they’re consuming – so the message ultimately feels much less invasive and instead more authentic to the surrounding environment – allowing us to reach audiences in the right frame of mind.


If you’re fortunate enough to have first-party data available to your brand, then build your strategy around it.


Rather than covertly capturing audience information, why not ask site visitors and customers for identifiers – and provide them the opportunity to learn more about your brand.


In order to get prospective customers to be interested in your brand then you need to be distinctive and have some form of differentiation in the market.


I’m hoping that the death of the cookie reignites the flame of creativity in advertisers. Rather than fearing the shift, we should embrace this positive change and welcome the new wave of digital experiences that will be more transparent for consumers.


The death of third-party cookies is inevitable, but the death of effective digital advertising is most certainly not!

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