If you’re in marketing, you've likely heard the chatter about the looming “loss of third party cookies”.
To break the ice and give you piece of mind, I’d like for you have our cookies given that we’re all losing some. I hope you enjoy—believe it or not, filling out our trial form to redeem delicious Cravory cookies is one of the workarounds to losing third party cookies that I’ll be covering later. Stay tuned.
I want to tell you that you shouldn’t be scared of this change, as there are numerous ways to circumnavigate the lack of retargeting capabilities you’re faced with to ensure your website traffic still converts.
For those of you who have no idea what’s going on, let me clear the air by defining the terms and providing some context around online cookies.
What is a cookie?
Online, or HTTP cookies, are memory cards that are able to recognize online behavior and remember your actions upon visiting a website. Every time you visit a new website on the Internet, your device is given a cookie, or unique ID on your hard drive to keep track of your session and improve your browsing experience. For example, remembering your login, items in your cart, and recommending items based on what you look at—this is what’s known as a first party cookie.
What is a first party cookie?
The first party cookie was invented in 1994 by the founding engineer of Netscape so websites can provide a better experience for visitors. Your browser (Google, Firefox, Safari) stores your device information to ultimately deliver a better experience.
For example, think of the last time you were shopping on Amazon but got pulled away from your device. When you get back to your device to continue, the items you have added to your cart are still there so you don’t have to start over again. First party cookies save us time by remembering details such as login credentials and language preferences.
These aren’t the cookies that Google is getting rid of. Those are known as third party cookies, aka the intrusive ones.
What is a third party cookie?
Also known as tracking cookies, you’ve likely experienced the impact of third party cookies when an advertisement magically appeared on Google for something you were searching earlier that day or week.
Different than a first party cookie, a third party cookies is created and placed on your device by a different website other than the one you’re visiting. Third party cookies collect personal data such as your interests, location, age, search trends, and browsing history that are then passed on and even sold to advertisers by the website that created them.
Marketers use this information to serve custom advertisements their target audience, which is great for them and advertisers, but at the same time compromises user privacy—the real issue is that most users don’t know they're giving up information to third party companies, which is why Firefox banned them in 2019, Safari in 2020, and now Google planning to in 2023.
Eye-opening statistics about third party cookies
The majority of us agree that our privacy is at risk: 72% of Americans feel anxious about being tracked online and what’s being done with their data (Pew Research Center) and 81% believe the risks they face from having data collected outweighs the benefits.
Companies will be forced to adapt: According to McKinsey, for some publishers up to 80% of advertising revenue comes from third party cookie targeted ads. Other studies have shown mixed results that turning off third party advertisements will decrease ad revenue by 50-60%: a significant amount of lost revenue for any organization.
Specifically, marketers will be challenged more than ever: According to a survey conducted by GetApp, 41% of marketers believe their biggest challenge will be inability to track data and 44% of marketers predict they’ll need to increase spending by 5% to 25% in order to reach the same goals as 2021. Additionally, 23% of marketing experts plan on investing in email marketing software due to Google’s new policy.
Not surviving, but thriving in a cookieless world
Essentially, third party cookies are like junk food that marketers need to ween off of. The following are five alternative solutions that marketers could investigate to see if it would be viable component in transitioning away from third party cookies:
- Zero party data
- First party data tracking
- Other forms of identity-based tracking
- Targeted advertisements on social media
- The privacy sandbox
Zero party data
Zero party data is information voluntarily shared from consumers to a brand. For example, lead generation forms such as the classic ‘request trial’ or 'book a demo' form. Other examples include collecting information via pop-up quizzes, where you answer a short series of questions to help websites better tailor the experience to the user, or Postal MagicLink to offer items for users to redeem. Similarly, this enables brands to collect information from visitors and then use that data to their own discretion.
Marketers can come up with creative ways to collect zero party data and then push personalized advertisements that aim to convert users to marketing-qualified-leads, sales-qualified-leads, and eventually paying customers.
First party data tracking
First party data tracking is the next step that comes after collecting zero party data. Many companies are already implementing strategies that retarget users based on the information they collect from their sessions, such as email addresses, articles read, pages visited, etc.
Companies and publishers can then sell advertising space on their website to other advertisers based on the data they have collected. However, the catch with this is that it favors large publishers with big budgets and massive amounts of website traffic. To compete with the big dogs, it’s likely that partnerships amongst smaller organizations will partner together to share first party data that is relevant.
For B2B marketers, it’s likely that sharing information with friendlies via tools such as Crossbeam will become more prevalent to enrich existing data. While sharing first and zero party data may seem like a concern, keep in mind that these are both methods of collecting information that consumers opt into, either by accepting cookies or filling out a form.
Other forms of identity-based tracking
It’s also likely that more forms of identity-based tracking will emerge after the loss of third party cookies. Unique identifiers such as email addresses or phone numbers will enable websites who have an agreement to share first party data to have a feedback loop of sorts to serve the user more personalized advertisements when they visit either of the websites.
While these methods are said to improve privacy, the criticism of companies again sharing information will remain consistent. ID-based tracking and advertising is very similar to third party cookies and will likely be phased out in time. Not to mention, if unique identifiers such as email addresses became encrypted, identity-based tracking would no longer be effective.
Social media advertising
According to the Content Marketing Institute, 95% of B2B companies already utilize social media in some form. After third party cookies are gone, it’s likely that LinkedIn will see an influx of paid, targeted advertisements, along with other social media platforms.
As you may already know, hyper-targeted advertisements on social media allow you to engage active users segmented by their location, industry, age, interests, and even profession; an existing channel that shouldn’t be disregarded.
The privacy sandbox
The privacy sandbox initiative is Google’s solution to a cookieless world that aims to keep our personal information more safe, private, and secure, while still giving businesses the opportunity to thrive digitally. It also aims to prevent tracking that users may not be aware of by limiting fingerprinting: when information about your device and browsing history is collected over time to build a profile of you that’s tracked over time.
This is an open source project expected to release in early 2023 that we’ll likely learn more about throughout the rest of 2022 before third party cookies are permanently disabled. At it’s core, it’s a positive step forward to a more ethical digital economy.
Use the offline channel to collect zero party data
Marketers are always adapting to a changing digital landscape—in 2023 they will be challenged more than ever to find new creative ways to engage and convert their website visitors. Using offline marketing engagement tools like Postal give marketers an opportunity to build zero party data collecting initiatives simply by encouraging website visitors to accept a free item.
Once that data is collected, it’s up to you to maintain ethical business practices. The loss of third party cookies doesn’t have to be an apocalyptic event for digital marketers: get started with Postal to see how you can use the offline channel to acquire data that helps your business ethically converts website traffic to paying customers.