That’s the Way the Third-Party Cookie Crumbles

By Anne Hareid, Digital Marketing Analyst

Published: February 2, 2021

Did you hear? Google Chrome, the leading web browser, is saying goodbye to third-party cookies by 2022. This isn’t the first time a browser started phasing out these cookies. In fact, Safari and Firefox, the second and third largest browsers by market share, haven’t been using third-party cookies since 2013. So for those who rely on them for their online advertising, this announcement is a wake-up call to find some alternatives. That doesn’t mean you have to give up on first-party cookies though.

The Difference Between Third-Party and First-Party Cookies

With third-party cookies, third-party servers can create and set these small text files on publishers’ websites. This allows them to track behavior across different websites and use this data for creating user profiles and retargeting ads. For example, if you visit a few law firm websites within seven days, an ad tech vendor could assume you might be interested in legal advice or representation. In response, the ad tech vendor could serve you relevant ads and messaging.

With first-party cookies, they’re set on the publisher’s website and are only available to the website owner. This allows them to collect analytical data on their site like how many times someone visited a page. They’re also helpful to website visitors since they remember their passwords and other preferences. Unlike third-party cookies, first-party cookies can’t track a person’s whereabouts outside the website they’re visiting.

Why Third-Party Cookies Are Being Removed

Two words: privacy concerns. People want more control over their data and how to use it. With the rise of online privacy conversations and new legislation like Europe’s GDPR and California’s CCPA, third-party cookies are falling out of favor.

What This Means for Businesses

Marketing strategies that rely on third-party cookies for understanding consumer behavior and tracking cross-device use will become a thing of the past. So keep that in mind when you’re planning for your next marketing or campaign plan. However, don’t worry, first-party cookie data and its alternatives won’t disappear anytime soon. Here are a few ways you can continue to track your brand’s audiences and learn more about them after 2022:

  • Social media insights
  • Email marketing data
  • Content management system (CMS) first-party data

We’re always here to help as well. If your brand needs assistance navigating this new digital world, reach out using our contact form! We’ll take a look at your current plan and advise how to adjust for the future.