RIP Third-party Cookies: What Do We Do Now?

by Denise Gower 
Director, Digital Strategy – MANSI Media

The digital marketing world is close to putting the finishing touches on the third-party cookie obituary. Alphabet Inc., parent company of Google, announced that its Chrome internet browser will stop supporting a user-tracking technology called third-party cookies by late 2023.

Because Chrome is the browser of choice for most Americans, this is a big deal. It will not only affect how consumers are targeted by advertisers but also the ability of advertisers to collect detailed information and data on their consumers.

What is a third-party cookie?

Third-party cookies are trackers that companies place on a user’s device, and get stored in your browser, which creates profiles of each user. This allows companies to follow you around the Internet to learn more about your interests, psychographic, demographic, and geographical information, and purchase intentions.

Advertisers use this data to serve you ads that are likely to be relevant to you. This explains why if you look at a pair of shoes on a particular website, you will see ads for those same shoes on other websites later.

Why are third-party cookies being eliminated?

Because consumers have become significantly interested in managing their privacy on the Internet, there is increased pressure to eliminate third-party cookies. Retargeted ads shined a spotlight on the impact of this type of tracking and frustrated many users due to a lack of transparency about how they were being targeted.

What does the end of third-party cookies mean?

An article published on MarketingTech offers some insight into how advertisers will be affected by the termination of third-party cookies. It says, “When all major browsers stop supporting third-party cookies, it will become impossible to set up audience targeting and frequency capping for 99% of users. Meanwhile, cross-site audience targeting will become a thing of the past. One way it can play out is that non-personalized ads will overflow the Internet, and the effectiveness of advertising campaigns (ROAS) will decrease.”

How can I continue to reach my targeted audience?

The good news is that there are still a wide variety of methods for savvy marketers to connect with their intended audiences.

Direct Premium Placements: Marketers can reach an affluent, educated and engaged audience, targeted by zip code, county, state, or region, by placing their advertising message on local newspaper websites. The digital newspaper advertising platform is a robust way to align your brand message with the most trusted media outlet.

Location-Based Targeting: Using third-party, non-cookie-based location data, you can serve ads to users based on their real-time location or type of location in the physical world.

Contextual targeting: If your product or service is targeted to a specific audience, you can place your advertising message on platforms that these consumers would be most likely to visit. For example, if your intended audience is parents of young children, by implementing contextual targeting, you would select media options such as mommy blogs, parenting podcasts, and other media outlets that appeal to children. In other words, the ads on the page/podcast/show will complement the delivered content.

Your own data: Frequently referred to as first-party data, this is the information that you have already collected from your targeted audience. You can use this data to send promotional emails and other forms of communication to consumers who have expressed an interest in your product or service.

If you are not already collecting first-party data, CMG Local Solutions offers some examples of how you can begin.

  • Establish an authentication process on your company website to convert sporadic or one-time visitors into consistent, regular customers.
  • Incentivize your customers to register with you when they visit your website by offering discounts in return for sign-ups.
  • Set up registration forms for online and in-person events.
  • Creating landing-page subscription pop-ups with a discount in exchange for newsletter sign-ups.
  • Prompt visitors to subscribe to blog posts or other types of website content.

Social media profiles: Now is a good time to invest in growing your social media following. An audience of people choosing to follow you and engage with your content is highly desirable.

Here are some helpful tips from The Balance Small Business to increase your social media presence.

  • Be regular and consistent with your posts. A post here or there will not build the top-of-mind awareness that is crucial for brand recognition.
  • Post about relevant topics. Followers are connecting with you because you provide something they are interested in. Your goal is to keep your audience informed about matters related to your business.
  • Match the message and format to the proper network. The types of messages you post should vary across networks, as well as their frequency. Frequent daily posts to Twitter are acceptable, but limit the number of posts on LinkedIn, Facebook, or Instagram to once a day.
  • Include social media follow buttons everywhere. Incorporate follow buttons on every page of your website, and in your emails and newsletters.
  • Be responsive. Reply to comments, questions, or mentions made by your followers. This is how you deepen connections, foster engagement, and build trust.
  • Use hashtags where appropriate. They help people find content on the topics that are of interest to them.
  • Make it easy for others to share your content. Most visitors are not going to copy and paste your URL to their social media. Simplify things for them by including social share links on your blog or website.

Become a subject matter expert: Invest in creating content about your field that is thoughtful, intelligent, and challenging, and then find platforms to share this content. This can be organic, such as submitting content to trade journals or creating a company blog. Or it can be a marketing strategy where you purchase sponsored content on relevant platforms, ensuring your message is shared alongside other trusted, pertinent stories.

There is no doubt that the digital marketing landscape will change drastically over the next couple of years. However, savvy marketers will use a variety of options, some new and some old, to continue to reach their audiences in meaningful ways.

It is also likely that new and emerging digital marketing opportunities, and out-of-the-box thinking, will be the victors in a world without third-party cookies.

MANSI Media has a dedicated team of digital marketing experts whose knowledge in the field ensures that your campaigns reach the audiences you are seeking. We would be happy to help you navigate the changes happening in the digital marketing landscape. Please connect with us to learn more.