Marketer, don’t let the death of the third-party cookie be your funeral!

Marketer, don’t let the death of the third-party cookie be your funeral!

Google has announced that it will be joining Safari and Firefox in blocking third-party cookies in its Chrome web browser in 2024. Killing third-party cookies is about privacy and market share, and the implications for marketers are vast, severe and immediate. Most marketers don’t seem to be aware of just how big a change is coming and how urgently action is needed.

In short, the challenges that marketers will face are as follows:

  • Third parties, such as Facebook Ads or Google Ads, will no longer get conversion data via third-party cookies.
  • The loss of conversion data means considerable decline in advertising targeting and success.
  • While advertising will no longer work as effectively, its cost will nevertheless rise.

While 2024 may be the expiry date for the third-party cookie, we are actually already at its wake. This means that various service providers in consumer businesses are phasing out third-party cookies ever before the time is up. The time to take action is now!

So many cookies our privacy is threatened with type two diabetes. It’s the silent killer, you know

Cookie management has everything to do with privacy... and marketing! The European General Data Protection Regulation (GDPR) and the California Consumer Privacy Act (CCPA) are legislative measures that have been taken to protect everyone’s rights to their own data. But what about the marketer’s right to their customer data?

Currently, third parties are getting massive amounts of customer data from consumer businesses for free and without restrictions. When we open a website in our browser, a massive amount of third-party applications get downloaded to our browser as well. These include analytics and tracking, such as Google Analytics, a Facebook Pixel, eCommerce optimizations software, consumer/customer data collecting applications, and much, much more.

Cookies are used both to navigate on a website/webstore and in collecting all sorts of customer data (customer profile data, purchase and order data, behavioural browsing data, etc.). There are first-party, third-party, essential and non-essential cookies, and they can be categorized by criteria or function as follows:

  • Source: Are the cookies from the website’s own server or from an outside marketing or ad channel? The website you are visiting is the first party, for you right now Facebook and LinkedIn, for instance, are third parties.
  • Duration: How long is the data in the cookies available/retrievable? Session cookies will stop functioning immediately with the closing of the browser. Cookies used in signing in to services or to gather data for marketing purposes stay in the browser’s cache memory much longer.
  • Purpose: What are the cookies used for? Cookies without which the website could not function are essential cookies. Cookies that affect the website’s layout and functionalities are operational cookies. There are cookies for analytics and tracking. And then, there are cookies for marketing and ad management.

We have grown accustomed to website popups having information on the website’s cookie usage and asking for our consent. If this consent is not given, the marketer is in trouble because conversion data will not be available. At least not the kind of data transmitted via third-party cookies, such as Facebook Ads, Google remarketing, Adform and other advertising pixels.

There has been much fear, uncertainty and doubt as well as doomsday predictions (Data is dead!) surrounding the imminent death of the third-party cookie. It is imperative that organizations start to benchmark and model the impact of the third-party cookie blocking and first-party cookie restrictions that are underway or already in place. However, there are upsides and we can help!

The great news to consumer businesses in all this is that they will be able to decide what customer data they are willing to release to third parties such as Facebook Ads or Google Ads. They will gain control they did not have before, and that is a good thing.

There are other benefits as well, but to get to those, we need to briefly discuss the two ways data is delivered to third parties.

Data is stored, delivered and transferred on client-side and on server-side. The client-side data is the data that is uploaded to and from the user’s browser or mobile application and some of which I discussed above with listing both applications that accompany websites as well as different cookie types. This side of data will not be available for marketers and display ad providing third parties after the death of the third-party cookie.

This is not all bad news, though, since conversion data may not have been available as client-side data anyway because of ad blockers, crashing networks and servers, and so on. In other words, client-side conversion data has never been 100% accurate. From now on, we will start to rely solely on server-side data. There are several major wins for marketers here - with the right tools:

  • Better GDPR and CCPA compliance with having control over one’s own customer data.
  • More reliable data delivery than with client-side data (no network downtimes etc.).
  • More extensive data delivery, because server-side data can include data not available client-side. Server-side data consists of all customer data and all touchpoints of an omnichannel customer experience. This means customer data not just from online channels, but also from customer service and physical locations (stores, restaurants, gyms, barber shops, etc.). And this means multichannel data that cannot be merged by third parties.

Save your marketer’s soul (and money!) with a Customer Data Platform (CDP)

The most pressing issue with the whole cookie blocking business has been worrying over lost conversion data from here on. Various suggested marketing technology workarounds and solutions, such as Customer Relationship Management systems (CRMs), will cost more than a pretty penny - or cent, when in Europe.

The first pain point is gathering all customer data from as many touch points as possible into one place. The second pain point is to execute an integration into every display ad and other marketing channels separately. This can easily mean tens of thousands of euros just to enable these integrations. Not to mention the time that setting everything up and running will require. One more reason not to wait a moment longer!

The newest kid in the martech block, however, can streamline all this easily and cost-effectively. A Customer Data Platform (CDP) is just the hub to collect all of the customer data and to be the saving grace in delivering that data to display ad parties according to your company’s consent - with one click. For example, the Custobar CDP will redeem all customer data, not just conversion data with already existing integrations to service providers. All you need to do is get your customer’s consent and then choose where you will give yours and to what extent.

A CDP can utilize first-party cookie data (browser data and such) with server-side data management. All other data can be gathered and delivered via standard and secure APIs into the Custobar CDP, where it can be easily distributed to third parties, such as all marketing channels. It really is a one-click wonder.

Data will not die with the third-party cookie, and there is no need to panic. Still, the fact remains that there will be no long goodbye. Another fact is that a CDP might just be the only logical solution in the redemption of conversion and other customer data to continue keeping marketing data-driven.