For many companies, third-party cookies have been a key part of managing user behavior and providing a better advertising experience. However, that’s about to change. While other browsers, like Safari, have already made the move away from third-party cookies in recent years, Google Chrome – the largest and most popular option out there – has held out. Until now, that is. Google has already started making strides toward phasing out this practice for privacy purposes and will complete the transition by 2024.
However, all is not lost with these changes to third-party cookies, as there are plenty of ways to pivot operations to ensure a seamless transition. To help you prepare for a world without third-party cookies, here are five trending solutions to the deprecation of third-party cookies that will shape the advertising industry over the coming months.
Cohort Identity Model
The use of cohorts is one of Google’s significant planned changes to the market. Under this model, Google will assign users to cohorts based on browsing data and internet activity. Unlike third-party cookies, which track individual behavior, Google’s cohorts will contain thousands of individuals advertisers can target at once. This may seem less precise – after all, advertisers won’t be able to target specific web users – but will still allow advertisements to get in front of the right eyes.
First-Party Data Tracking
First-party data tracking is largely what it sounds like – collecting data from their own sources about their customers rather than using the data collected through third-party cookies. For example, the data from your website through user-consented logins, your email subscribers, or surveying your audience. Publishers can collect their own data on things like content preferences, demographics, and topics of interest, and use this to guide advertising placement decisions. Publishers and advertisers may even team up on this front, using details like names and email addresses to pool collected information.
For businesses that have long relied on third-party cookies and left first-party strategies largely untouched, now may be a time to enhance first-party data collection efforts.
It would take an enormous amount of work on a massive scale to construct a private ID strategy that can rival third-party cookies, and that’s something most businesses wouldn’t be able to manage. That’s why pooling resources can be compelling. With a central authority to assign advertising IDs to users based on things like an email address – a commonly-used way to log into business websites – advertisers can work together to track users across the web and serve them with targeted ads based on online activity.
This would, of course, require commitment from a sizable portion of the ad industry, but if enough players are on board, the opportunities are intriguing.
Contextual ad targeting is an old strategy, not a new one, and one that’s largely fallen by the wayside. However, the loss of third-party cookies may be a good reason to dust it off and bring it back out. PPC ads are a good example of contextual targeting, giving advertisers the ability to place ads based on things like similar keywords. This isn’t as accurate as using cookies to track individual behavior, but it’s still a viable option. This is especially true for advertisers willing to work together with publishers to leverage first-party data for placement purposes.
Clean Data Rooms
Data clean rooms are a compelling opportunity, particularly for those concerned about the loss of visibility into consumer behaviors. By using this kind of software solution, advertisers and brands are able to match user-level data in a way that doesn’t require violating customer privacy by sharing raw data. Leveraging this kind of second-party partnership can allow brands to tap into a pool of collected first-party information that would otherwise be unavailable. This strategy is already in use by the major ad platforms, like Google, Amazon, and Facebook, but may now be an effective option for smaller players within the industry.
The road ahead for digital advertising after the end of third-party cookies
Brands that are willing to explore the alternatives out there, from clean data rooms to identity-based tracking, and determine an educated, effective path forward will be best positioned to weather the storm – and those truly willing to take steps forward might walk away in a better position than ever.