Google is taking its hand out of the cookie jar. Starting in 2023, Google will be banning third-party cookies from the Chrome browser, a change that was originally planned for 2022 but got delayed. Firefox and Safari browsers have already turned cookies off.
Cookies are small blocks of data created by a web server that gets stored directly on your browser while you are visiting a website. This data gets communicated back to the server when you request another page or revisit the website, where it tracks information, such as browsing history, password and username information, button and link clicks, items stored within an online shopping cart and more.
Cookies can be valuable to both the company using them and to the user by offering benefits like personalized experiences, shopping cart storage and the ability to store passwords. Cookies are a very important part of digital ad tracking and targeting, but there are potential privacy concerns particularly when it comes to third-party cookies. A third-party cookie belongs to a domain other than the one you are browsing and is often used to produce highly targeted advertising and retargeting ads, build ad tests such as A/B testing and apply limits to how often ads are displayed to an individual user.
Since not all cookies are a privacy concern, only third-party cookies are being removed.
How Should Marketers Adapt to the End of Third-Party Cookies?
Make Better Use of First Party Cookies & Internal Data: Since third party data is going away, the obvious choice for many organizations is to make better use of their own customer data. Upgrade your first-party cookies and utilize insight from customer loyalty campaigns, which can provide a great deal of relevant customer data, while encouraging loyalty via customer perks and rewards. Since there is customer consent, these types of programs can be true win-win situations for customer and advertiser alike.
Leverage Content Marketing & Organic Search: While it may become more difficult to directly target a specific audience, some of your ad budget can potentially be shifted to simply building more (or better) content that highlights the topics and products that are of interest to your customers. Consider an email campaign, a blog, social media marketing or even starting a podcast.
Use Qualitative Segmentation Strategies: Segmentation existed long before third-party cookies. While third-party cookies have allowed advertisers to essentially automate massive amounts of segmentation in the blink of an eye, many consumers are already resisting these targeting strategies by using ad blockers, regularly clearing out their browser cookies and by completely ignoring display advertising altogether. In other words, it may be time to dig up some more traditional segmentation and targeting strategies through tools like surveys, user testing studies and more.
Redefine Key Performance Indicators (KPIs): With these changes, there will need to be adjustments in expectations made. Certain tactics will not perform like they used to, therefore KPIs will need to be reevaluated. As performance data comes in, marketers will be able to adjust expectations and respond with their strategy accordingly.
Observe, Adapt, Change, Repeat: Overall, there will always be ways to gain insights into our target customers. Limitations often encourage creative problem-solving, and there will be a lot of potential opportunities for marketers to leverage their creativity to gain a leg up on their competitors in this window of change. With these changes coming in 2023, now is a great time to start searching for opportunities to get more data on your own site visitors and customers, and the only cookies you will need will have chocolate chips in them.