A Cookieless Future

A Cookieless Future

Third-Party Cookies Are Out — How Marketers are Adapting

If you’re a marketer, you’re already well aware of Google’s cookie deprecation deadline. While 1% of Chrome users have had third-party cookies blocked since January 4th, 2024, plans are still in place to extend this to 100% of users starting Q3 2024. With more and more big players moving away from cookies – and some browsers already cookie free – it leaves many marketers wondering how they will be affected by the restrictions.

What sparked the move away from third-party cookies anyway?

The European Union’s GDPR requirements have been in place for some time now – and with the California Privacy Rights Act (CPRA) in effect as of 2023, privacy rights are being enhanced for residents of the U.S. With tightened data regulations and increasing privacy concerns, Google and others have made the decision to phase out third-party cookies altogether.

Is there a difference between first-party and third-party cookies?

There sure is! While first-party cookies are stored under the same domain that they are collected, third-party cookies can be shared with multiple domains that a user interacts with.

An example of a first-party cookie would be an online shopper placing items into their cart. The user closes out the browser, but when they return to the same site later that day, they still see the items stored in their cart. These cookies are contained only to the initial domain you visited and typically don’t require user consent.

An example of a third-party cookie would be retargeting ads. You visit a website, then go on social media platforms, news sites, etc. and see ads from the same site you just visited. These cookies follow you across multiple domains and may require explicit user consent under privacy laws.

How does a marketer effectively create a personalized experience without 3P cookies?

Rely on your most valuable marketing asset – your first-party data! First-party (1P) customer data is very different from the first-party cookies we talked about earlier. 1P customer data includes your customer records – information that your customers have already provided. This is typically information needed to make a purchase — including their name, address, email address and what products they’ve purchased. By tying data to a known individual rather than a cookie or device ID, marketers can better understand their customer base and create more personalized experiences. All companies already have this information – but not all are using it as effectively as they could.

How can a brand use 1P customer data?

Customer data & analytics platforms help you make sense of your data. Additionally, by enriching your 1P customer data, you get valuable insights into demographic, psychographic and behavioral attributes. But even with more information about your customers, sorting through the data can be tedious – or even impossible.

Using AI, the machines do the heavy lifting — making sense of all that customer information. Systems cluster your top customers into groups based on similar traits, creating personas that are unique to your brand’s specific information. Once your top personas are identified, you can go one click deeper to understand how those groups differ. Maybe your Suburban Millennial Moms are most likely to purchase shampoo, but rarely purchase lotion. Or perhaps your 20-something Urban Bachelors are most likely to have a high lifetime value with your brand. How do those high value customers’ traits differ from the average purchaser? All of these questions – and more – can be easily answered with the right technology in place.

How do I translate those insights into an effective marketing strategy?

Understanding your customers better by answering these important questions can help you build a more personalized and successful marketing strategy. If you know that Suburban Millennial Moms are most likely to purchase shampoo, and typically repurchase every 2 months, you can reach them with a marketing message highlighting a specific product within the timeframe that they are likely to repurchase to encourage the sale. Or, use this information to set up a subscription program.

This information also plays well in your paid advertising strategy. Reach your target audience with the types of products, messaging and creative that are most likely to resonate. For example, since your 20-something Urban Bachelors are likely to have a high lifetime value – you may want to target them in your advertising efforts. Highlight products that they are most likely to purchase, and use creative that appeals to their demographic. By gaining more customers who are likely to spend most with your brand with a high repurchase rate, the customer acquisition cost begins to have less impact on your bottom line. Afterall, wouldn’t you rather spend $50 acquiring a customer who will spend $300 than $40 acquiring a customer who will only spend $100?

With tools like Decile, you can onboard these audiences directly to any advertising platform – making your workflows simple and your targeting precise.

What happens if I don’t create a cookieless marketing plan?

If you haven’t already, create a plan for when cookies are officially out of the picture. Many brands still aren’t feeling the urgency of how this may affect their marketing efforts. Those who have already moved away from third-party cookies have an advantage over their competitors.

Let Decile lead you into a cookieless future with customer insights and advanced ecommerce analytics. Our success managers work hand in hand to help you tease out insights and build strategies that are most likely to have a meaningful impact on your brand – so you can continue growing profitably.

What marketers are seeing & saying

Decile conducted a brief survey of its clients to gain insights into what they are experiencing as this shift happens.

Below are some of our findings:

  • About half of respondents have noticed immediate impacts on their business due to cookie depreciation, with 2/3 experiencing a decline in marketing metrics visibility.
  • Ad costs have increased for roughly half of the brands due to cookie reduction, with 4 out of 5 believing they need to focus more on first-party data to counteract cookie depreciation
  • Many are exploring new software options (data warehouses and third-party data providers) and adjusting their marketing strategies to adapt/offset the changes. 
  • Surprisingly, less than 20% haven’t taken any steps to prepare for a cookieless future, leaving 80% actively preparing.