Go Back Up

back to blog

What The Death of Third-Party Cookies Means For Digital Marketers

Article • December 1, 2021 • Written by: Diane Keng

It’s happening – the third-party cookie is going away for good.

Google shared its plan for phasing out support for third-party cookies in 2023, and while this is set to make a major impact on the advertising industry, marketers don’t necessarily need to worry. Here’s why.

Why Do Third-Party Cookies Matter for Marketing?

We’re all familiar with cookies. These help brands track consumers when they’re outside of the brand environment, operating on channels that the brand doesn’t own and can’t collect data themselves. This information helps marketers create detailed consumer profiles and personalize the consumer experience. From a consumer perspective, though, being tracked across the internet seems like a huge invasion of privacy. Personalizing the consumer experience shouldn’t make your consumers feel like they’re being spied on.

It makes sense why brands, especially retailers, would want to use third-party cookies. More data from more places means that brands will better understand their consumers and create more relevant experience. Without third party cookies, though, personalization will become more difficult to achieve unless brands start to leverage their first-party data effectively. 

For marketers, the end of third-party cookies isn’t something they need to lose sleep over.

What Can Marketers Do About This?

Marketing trends are already showing that investing in first-party data is important, but soon it won’t be a matter of adopting a best practice, it’ll be a mandatory shift for brands. Marketers are already nervous about what this means for their data collection practices – 41% say that their biggest challenge is going to be their ability to track the right data without the help of third-party cookies.

So where do marketers go from here? Here are four strategies marketers can use to shift their focus from relying on third-party cookies to leveraging first-party data:

  1. Build deeper relationships with consumers.

Consumer relationships today aren’t built on how great your products are – they’re built on trust. When you’re managing your data openly and honestly, consumers are more likely to share their information with you. Your consumers might be wary of sharing their data with you at first. It’s up to marketers to create consumer journeys that provide value to users and encourage them to share their data, rather than just asking for it up-front with no indication of what they’re getting in return. If it’s done right, consumers are more likely to continue engaging with your brand beyond their first purchase.

  1. Invest in the right solutions to collect, tag, and use your first-party data effectively.

Most retail and consumer brands already have tons of consumer data at their fingertips. While these brands have collected the data, quite a few struggle to tag it correctly and have trouble extracting actionable insights from the data. 

When third-party cookies are no longer supported, it’s important for brands to adapt their tech stacks to fill the gaps with solutions that help them manage first-party data. With the right partner, marketers can use AI to collect, tag, and analyze their data, meaning they have the time and resources to focus on improving consumer experiences and building brand loyalty.

  1. Break down data silos and unify first-party data across your brand.

Unifying your first-party data is the first step in working towards being able to use it to improve the consumer journey for all of your consumers. This starts with improved first-party data collection and tagging. 

Regardless of how much data you have, if it’s not all in the one place, it’s difficult to get a holistic view of your consumer and their digital experience – that means your consumer profiles are going to be missing key insights. Without understanding the big picture, it’s hard to figure out how to improve consumer experiences rapidly. Even if you have all of the data about your consumers, you need to be able to use it effectively.

  1. Invest in personalized consumer experiences, even if users are anonymous.

Contrary to popular belief, it doesn’t actually matter if you know who your consumers are. While it’s great to have users create an account and sign in every time they visit your site, they’ll likely need a reason to sign up. That’s where contextual marketing can help. By focusing on real-time data and the context of consumers, marketers can create relevant and timely product recommendations.

Yes, it’s good to have demographic data, location, preferences, purchasing habits, and more, but you don’t actually need to know who your consumers are. You can still personalize the consumer journey for those users that aren’t yet convinced to share their data, and this value-add is part of what convinces consumers to share their data with your brand.

Marketers that are stuck relying on third-party data are going to struggle when third-party cookies are no longer supported – that’s why it’s important to invest in first-party data now, not later. The brands who have already made the shift are offering highly relevant, personalized experiences to consumers. The competitive advantage first-party data provides is only going to grow, and marketers need to get started.

Want to get started with personalization and improve your brand’s first-party data practices? Get in touch with us to see how!

Ready to transform your digital personalization with incredible speed?

Diane Keng

CEO & Co-Founder @ Breinify
Forbes 30 Under 30 for Enterprise Technology