Google announced in August 2019 that it would be getting rid of third party cookies. This refers to any cross-website tracking, or ad tech used to store user information in order to create targeted advertisements when a user visits your site. This is commonly known Cookie Apocalypse, since ad-tech companies rely on third-party cookies as their bread and butter. All of this will disappear in 2022, 2023 respectively.
Before Google’s announcement, Apple and Firefox had been fighting third-party cookies with bans on their respective browsers. Intelligent Tracking Prevention (ITP), which was designed to protect privacy and prevent data from being tracked on users’ web activity or devices, was used.
First-party cookies are the only cookies that your company is permitted to use.
What is the difference between first and third-party cookies?
Cookies that are first-party are cookies that are directly created by your website. Cookies are used to identify users and store their preferences when they visit your website. Cookies created by third parties are cookies that are not used on the website you are currently viewing. Third-party cookies work anonymously and don’t identify users personally. This can be done through:
- 1 to 1 marketing: track every click and IP address, etc.
- Cookies are installed in the web browser of the user
- Cross-device tracking
This allows you to collect information about your users, site behavior, and device type. Then, create ads based upon that user activity. This is very efficient for creating targeted ads.
First Party Cookies
First-party cookies are created by your website when a visitor visits it. Most browsers accept them. They are there to personalize and enhance the user experience. It will store information such as their settings, passwords, bookmarks, etc. They identify the user by using data that is unique to them, such as their email address or other login information. This is activated only when the user visits your site. You can’t track or create targeted ads such as third-party cookies. This makes advertising more difficult.
Google’s decision to remove third-party cookies means that digital advertising must be redesigned with audience-first marketing.
What does this mean for your business?
If you’re an advertising tech company that relies on anonymous third-party data such as device type and user clicks, you could be in for a rude surprise. Major ad-tech companies who specialize in third-party cookie management are already suffering from the Cookie Apocalypse. Ask Criteo. Their market share fell to $2.5 billion after Google, Apple, and Mozilla removed third-party cookies from their respective browsers.
There is real cause for concern. Roger Kamena, Data Science Analyst, says that the cookie Apocalypse, which is due to hit 2022/23, could wipe out 85% the digital market. “In essence Chrome will create a browser Sandbox that will act as a sort of black hole for cookie IDs during servers calls.”
Any data or ad tech that collects any information on unidentified users via a data management platform (DMP), are going out of business. This means that there will be a lot less revenue
Implications for Measurement Tools
- Gartner’s 2019 report found that only 58% of marketing leaders realize their potential impact through their marketing technology stack. This trend is expected to continue as third-party cookies are phased out. Marketers will be left uncertain about where and how they should invest in marketing technology.
- Tools that attempt to combine user data from multiple sites (such MTA solutions), will be severely affected and less feasible for data collected offsite such as impressions. Although click paths based on query string parameters collected onsite may not be feasible, they can help to measure channel efficacy.
- There will be a much smaller impact on measurement tools and functionality that relies only on first-party data (e.g. site customization based upon logged in users). Marketers should monitor the changing situation (this includes web analytics tools such as Google Analytics).
- This will increase the importance of tools that are not customer-level for evaluating cross-channel influence.
Impact on Ad-Buying Platforms
- Clients with limited first party data sets will find it prohibitively difficult to target users at an individual level.
- Platforms will lose the ability to target individual users outside of first-party data sets (e.g., look-alike audiences) at scale. Although there will still be methods to target first parties data sets, they will become increasingly difficult to implement.
- Media platforms use identity graphs to convert attributes. This allows marketers to optimize campaigns in real-time. However, this capability will be more difficult as ad-buying platform (by nature) does not have first party relationships to consumer
The Cookie Apocalypse
Google may want to encourage user-privacy through first-party data but this is not a noble cause through and through. This transition has obvious winners and losers. Any company that mines data or first cookies is the obvious winner. Which companies hold the exclusive rights to first-party data? It’s just Google, Amazon and Facebook.
Facebook, for example, requires all users to provide an email address in order to use its platform. These digital giants rely on only first-party data. Google currently holds 66 percent browser market share. They use first-party data only.
Campaign Manager users can’t add impression pixels to Facebook ads. Google Display Network and Amazon DSP will not allow DMP impression pixels to their ecosystems. Marketing data will be more fragmented and isolated.
What can you do about it?
Your digital marketing services will not survive without customers engaging with you. They must also identify themselves as they use your services. This means that you must incentivize users to provide you with their email address and other identifiable data. They can then be considered first-party data.
Focus on business strategies that offer value to customers and audience members. This will help them make better decisions about your products and services. This is why we believe content marketing will see a significant resurgence. If your business is already collecting email addresses through consent or value-based marketing, you are on the right track.
How qonnect can help with this
Businesses will need to convert and/or abandon third-party data right away. This will also mean that businesses will need to migrate all of their digital campaigns into first-party data ecosystems. Some companies may also need to import CSV files of first party data from major platforms like Facebook and Google. It’s a tedious and time-consuming process, as you cannot import all of the first-party data at once. It’s best to do it in small chunks.
qonnect allows you to connect any audience to your CRM/ESP, or any customer data platform (CDP), and vice versa in real-time. It also connects to major CRM/ESP provider MailChimp, SendGrid and Constant Contact.