For years, brands have been using third-party cookies to track website visitors, improve the user experience, and collect data that helped target ads to the right audiences.
They were also used to learn about what visitors were checking online when they weren’t on brands’ websites.
Third-party cookies are tracking codes that are placed on a web visitor’s computer after being generated by another website other than your own. When a web visitor visits your site and others, the third-party cookie tracks this information and sends it to the third-party who created the cookie, which might be an advertiser.
If you’re an advertiser, third-party cookie data allows you to learn about your web visitor’s overall online behaviors, such as websites they frequently visit, purchases, and interests that they’ve shown on various websites.
With all of this data, you can then create a retargeting list that can be used to send ads to your past visitors or people with similar web profiles.
But Google’s ad-tracking policy is changing as the company is phasing out third-party cookies on Chrome browsers by 2022, also announcing they won’t be building “alternate identifiers to track individuals as they browse across the web, nor will we use them in our products.”
“Instead, our web products will be powered by privacy-preserving APIs which prevent individual tracking while still delivering results for advertisers and publishers.”
How the phase-out came about
The phase-out was first announced in February 2020, as a response to users demanding greater privacy, “including transparency, choice, and control over how their data is used.”
Firefox and Safari had, since 2013, already phased out their third-party cookies, but Google decided to do it over a course of two years so as to impact both users and the web ecosystem negatively, according to the blog post.
In late 2019, Google Chrome made up more than 56% of the web browser market.
First party cookies are still safe
Advertising networks that thrived on third-party cookies have been frantically buzzing about how the phase-out and Google’s rejection of ad-tracking will change the way they do business online.
But the truth is, Google isn’t banning all cookies. First-party cookies that track basic data about brands’ website visitors are still safe and intact. A first-party cookie is a code that gets generated and stored on website visitor’s computer by default when they visit your site. This cookie is often used for user experience as it is responsible for remembering passwords, basic data about the visitor, and other preferences.
With a first-party cookie, one can learn about what a user did while visiting the website, see how often they visit it and gain other basic analytics that can help brands develop or automate an effective marketing strategy around them. However, brands can’t see data related to their visitor’s behavior on other websites that aren’t affiliated with these brands’ domains.
First-party cookie data allows to see the number of web sessions on a page, the number of pages people click on during a visit, basic browser types, geographical demographics, or even referring websites where visitors clicked a link to the site’s URL.
Last August, Google announced it was developing a “Privacy Sandbox.” A blog post explained that the tool could allow marketers to continue to publish and circulate ads to the right audiences without having the same amount of user data.
“Some ideas include new approaches to ensure that ads continue to be relevant for users, but user data shared with websites and advertisers would be minimized by anonymously aggregating user information, and keeping much more user information on-device only. The goal is to create a set of standards that is more consistent with users’ expectations of privacy,” Google said.
What more can be done with first-party data?
This provides an opportunity for the development of first-party data, with the help of software such as CRM, email marketing, or analytics.
Most e-commerce sites will give a user the opportunity to create an account to make future checkout processes faster and more streamlined. It’s a great way to capture data and build demographics based on past purchasing behavior.
A lot of media companies allow users to access a set number of articles before having to register to continue reading, and this data can be leveraged for their own marketing, as well as being used to sell ad space and sponsorship opportunities to third parties who want to reach the publications’ target audience.
Offering things like discounts, demos, webinars, and access to exclusive content can help to build an opted-in and engaged audience.
It’s important to remember that to use this data for marketing purposes. the user has to agree to their data being used in this way. Failure to do so may result in a business being in breach of GDPR.
Lots of the data collected through account setup, registrations, and content downloads can be added to an email marketing database.
A huge amount of segmentation and personalization can be applied to deliver highly targeted email campaigns.
The vast majority of email marketing platforms have the ability to integrate with e-commerce stores to enable abandoned cart and viewed product automation emails, as well as personalized product recommendations based on past purchasing criteria.
Another way of further refining an email marketing audience is to ask them to confirm their preferences, such as how often they want to hear from you, and the types of content they are interested in.
Also, social media can be a good source of data, as you can see who engages with your profile or page. The problem is the data is owned by the social media platform and you can’t ethically extract that information to use as your own marketing data.
An alternative to this is an online community. Acting as a place where users can interact, ask questions, and share information, a community platform that is owned and managed by your organization provides access to opted-in contacts that you can start building relationships with.