A future without third-party cookies: What to expect

Cookies, including third party cookies, are considered by many to be an essential part of today’s internet experience. However, they also jeopardise your privacy. To ensure a pleasant experience online, websites use cookies to track and identify you. Any time you visit a website, small files are used to collect information about you and track your browsing habits. This happens behind the scenes, although some sites may seek your consent to install the cookies before letting you in.

Web cookies are domain and browser-specific. They are also differentiated by who hosts them, their purpose, and their work. The two main types of cookies include first-party and third-party cookies. Both are used to collect user information, but different people use the information.

 Recently, Google announced that third-party cookies would be disappearing from the web. To understand the implications of this move, you first need to know all the basics about this type of cookies.

What Are Third-Party Cookies?

They are also called tracking or targeting cookies and are placed on a website by a third-party, hence the name. While first-party cookies track information to help domain owners improve user experience, the purpose of third-party cookies is to obtain information used for advertising purposes. Types of data obtained through third-party cookies include age, gender, and user behaviour. This information helps online markets develop more personalised ads.

Third-party cookies are mostly from ad servers, social media platforms, and live chat pop-ups. The owner of a domain allows these third-party cookies as a way of monetising their website through Google AdSense. The cookies follow users across various domains and will enable the adware to retarget visitors with personalised adverts. However, users can block or disable them from their browser settings if they do not wish to see any ads.

The End of Third-Party Cookies

In early 2020, Google made announcements of its plans to phase out the use of third-party cookies on Chrome by 2022. In addition, new laws regarding online user privacy have also provoked conversations on third-party cookies, making more people think too hard about how much of their information is being leaked. Some new privacy regulations seeking to protect website users include the California Consumer Privacy Act (CCPA) and the General Data Protection Regulation (GDPR) implemented in the European Union.

Without knowing it, online users leave a trail of information during their online activities as they move from tab to tab, visiting multiple sites. Even after closing a browser, the cookies may not stop unless you manually disable them. This might explain the seemingly random emails you receive. Cookies on your browser could be sharing your contact information with other parties that, in turn, spam you with the emails. 

The move to end third-party cookies is an effort to protect the privacy rights of web users. In addition, they create a structure for civil or criminal penalties for those that fail to notify users of the presence of cookies. You probably now understand why many websites today ask you to accept or reject cookies before letting you in. Also, websites are now required to let users know what information the cookies are collecting and with whom the data is shared.

Major browsers like Apple’s Safari and Mozilla Firefox are blocking trackers by default. However, Google has delayed following suit and promises to do so by 2023. In the meantime, they are restricting some aspects of 3rd party cookies through the Samesite tool.

Reasons for Phasing Out Third Party Cookies

The primary reason for phasing out these cookies is the matter of privacy. There is no telling who has access to a user’s information and to what extent these cookies are siphoning the user’s data. Another issue is the failure of websites to disclose if they have cookies. A person visiting your website has the right to know if you are collecting information about them and what you intend to use that information for.

Another reason why it could be time to do away with 3rd part cookies is the use of ad blockers and mobile devices. Ad blockers make it difficult for cookies to track and access user data. As a result, creating personalized ads is impossible if you do not have enough insight into users and their behavior patterns. Moreover, today, people access the internet across various devices, making it difficult for third-party cookies to create a complete picture of them.

Impact on Digital Advertising and Marketing

Nearly 80% of digital advertisers depend on 3rd party cookies. As a result, they will feel the impact as they can no longer reach their target consumers online. It will also be challenging to create personalised ads since data will be limited. These hurdles may cause digital advertising to slow down a little, but there is optimism that innovations will be realised to help them adapt despite the change. 

Only third-party cookies are coming to an end. So marketers can start to consider developing strategies on data obtained from first-party cookies.

What Happens Next?

Are you already planning your next move on what to do once 3rd party cookies end? Of course, now more than ever, you will have to make the most use of first-party cookies. But, first, take time to understand your website’s various journeys and identify opportunities where first-party cookies could help. Consider using newsletters and downloads to get users to interact with you and encourage them to share more information with you directly. 

You could also apply contextualised targeting by identifying your user by the unique aspect of their journey. This way, you know when and where an ad would make a significant impression. This point would be perfect for bringing in the team from WordSeed to help you in all marketing funnel stages. You will get automated and effective content solutions that are contextually relevant to your audience through their expertise. Other tips include reassessing your key performance indicators and investing more in quality content so that search engines recognise you. 

Looking for alternatives to Google or Facebook advertising? Check out our 14 alternatives in 2022.

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