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    Third-party cookies phase out & alternatives marketers can consider

    by Leo Fornasari
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    As the 2024 deadline inches closer and closer, marketers are starting to become more concerned about Google’s announcement regarding the phase out of third-party cookies from their Chrome browser. In fact, when asked about the upcoming removal; 41% of marketers believe their biggest challenge will be their inability to track the right data.

    But is there really a reason to panic? And how can you best prepare for the “apocalypse”? First let’s take a deeper look into the concept of third-party cookies, and then let’s discuss the alternatives marketers can use...


    What’s your preferred cookie flavor?

     

    Cookies are a great way to track not only website visitors, but also to improve customer experience by:

    • Understanding which content visitors are looking for and which they like.
    • Targeting ads to the right audiences.
    • Learning more about our visitor’s behavior and what they are searching for online, even when they aren’t on our website.

    Basically, cookies act as a memory card that can recognize user behavior and remember their actions - But not all cookies are the same, there are different types that perform different functions, so let’s quickly review them:


    3 types of cookies

     

    1. Session cookies: These memorize your online activities. They only last for a session, meaning that the tracking will end once the user leaves your website or closes the browser window. They contain information about the movements the user does within the website, such as which pages they are visiting, and allow websites to remember users. Without session cookies, websites would have no memory, so they are vital for improving user experience.

    2. Persistent cookies: These are made to remember any preferences you have. Persistent cookies are like Session cookies, but they retain information even after users closes their browsers. Both types of cookies store user information, settings, preferences, or sign-in credentials (when the user consents to it).

    3. Third-party cookies: Also called tracking cookies, they collect various forms of data that are then passed on or sold to advertisers by the website that created the cookies. They track your interests, location, age, and search trends. These cookies grab on to information that marketers can use to provide awesome custom ads. They tend to be great for advertisers, but not so great for user privacy.

     

    About Google’s third-party cookies announcement

    Now that Google has announced their cookie phase-out, what happens next? When will the change happen and how can marketers deal with it?

    The first announcement about the 3rd-party cookies phase out was in February 2020, when Google declared that their Chrome browser will effectively phase out these cookies by 2022. Then Google shifted this deadline to the second half of 2024, and that’s the current deadline so far. But be aware, even if the death of these types of cookies has been delayed, they will be gone eventually, so it’s best to started getting prepared as soon as possible.

    Here’s what Google has said about 3rd-party cookies: "We don’t believe these solutions will meet rising consumer expectations for privacy, nor will they stand up to rapidly evolving regulatory restrictions, and therefore aren’t a sustainable long-term investment. Instead, our web products will be powered by privacy-preserving APIs which prevent individual tracking while still delivering results for advertisers and publishers."

     

    As a marketer, what are your best options to replace cookies?

    3 easy alternatives to replace third-party cookies

    1. Zero Party Data (ZPD): This is data that a customer shares with a brand voluntarily. This allows your consumers to make informed decisions about their information by knowing who has it. A great way to start collecting ZDP is by offering quizzes. With quizzes, you can turn a large amount of zero data party collection into more of a game. By asking specific questions, you can target your product ad specifically to their needs.

    2. Launch targeted ads on social media: If you want to be able to set hyper targeted ads, social media ad tools are the way to go. They allow you target promoted social media posts to other people in your industry, target demographic, or show similarities to your own pages followers. This allows you to target campaigns based on things like location, industry, and age.

    3. Privacy Sandbox: This is designed to replace the need for old technology like 3rd-party cookies and advertising id with new innovations that keep your personal information more private, safe, and secure. By limiting covert tracking, it’ll provide publishers with safer alternatives to 3rd-party cookies. So, you can continue building digital business while your data customers stay private. It also blocks, the use of device fingerprint, a controversial tactic that’s often used as an immediate replacement to 3rd-party cookies. Google has yet to release anything other than a beta version of sandbox, but when they make the official release in early 2023, it will be as easy to use as a Chrome extension.

     


    Cookies are on their way out, and as there are different alternatives available to marketers, your strategy don't need to be affected too significantly. Still, you should undertake an innovative and proactive mindset because privacy laws will continue to evolve. Look at it as an opportunity to develop less aggressive advertising alternatives, ask yourself if you are being too reliant on this specific technology, and come up with new and less intrusive ideas to replace it.

    If you need any assistance on this process or would like to know more about how to manage this upcoming phase out, do not hesitate to contact mbudo. We would be happy to resolve your doubts regarding cookies and your marketing strategy at large.


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    Leo Fornasari

    Leo Fornasari

    Leo is a graduated student on Business Management collaborating with mbudo on Inbound content and campaigns. He learns more about Inbound each day by gaining more HubSpot certifications. Leo is passionate about different cultures and he prides himself on his language skills, which are important for foreign business relations.