Whether you call it a third-party cookie, an ad cookie, or some other type of cookie entirely, it is going away in the very near future. It’s entirely likely that none of the major browsers will support third-party cookies by mid-2023. How will that effect digital marketing? We can only speculate at this point.
According to Salt Lake City-based Webtek Digital Marketing, Google announced the end of the ad cookie back in 2020. They had originally planned to eliminate it by the start of 2022. However, the company has decided to delay implementation until early 2023 in light of concerns voiced by the marketing industry. But one way or another, the death of the third-party cookie is imminent.
Why Ad Cookies Exist
Webtek explains that third-party cookies exist to help web developers improve user experience and enhance SEO efforts by generating data valuable to digital marketers. For example, a properly implemented ad cookie can track a consumer’s behavior across the internet. The data it generates tells digital marketers all sorts of things about consumer habits, purchase decisions, etc. The data can be used to target a company’s advertising efforts more effectively.
As for why third-party cookies are going away, it is a matter of user privacy. Calls for greater transparency and user privacy have been growing for a decade. Just a few years ago, European politicians responded to those calls with landmark legislation that heavily restricts how website owners can collect and use consumer information.
It boils down to a changing regulatory environment. Google and its competitors need to be increasingly careful about collecting and disseminating data. The third-party cookie now represents more of a legal threat than a productive marketing tool. Therefore, it is better to just get rid of the cookie.
Less Data to Work With
So, what does it all mean for digital marketers? Right off the top, they will have less consumer data to work with. The loss of the third-party cookie means the loss of the ability to track internet users across the web. Likewise, the limited data gleaned from first-party cookies will not be nearly as specific, thereby leading digital marketers to adopt a broader approach to audience targeting.
A Greater Emphasis on Email
The inability to target more exact audiences may further lead digital marketers to put more emphasis on email. It may encourage more web developers to invite visitors to sign up for newsletters and regular email updates. If that’s the case, it is a good thing that not all digital marketers blindly accepted the idea that email marketing is dead. To whatever extent it has slowed down in recent years, there is a good chance it will rebound many times over once third-party cookies are gone.
New Data-Generating Platforms
A big concern in the marketing industry is the loss of important data that now powers their ad platforms. In fact, such concerns are the primary reason Google decided to delay phasing out the third-party cookie until 2023. They are working on new data-generating platforms that will properly support the digital ad environment following the death of the ad cookie.
As an interesting side note, Mozilla and Apple have already phased out third-party cookies in their respective Firefox and Safari web browsers. The sky has not fallen as a result. Still, Google’s Chrome browser commands more than half the total market. So when they ax the third-party cookie sometime in 2023, that will be the end of it once and for all. We will have to wait to see how it impacts digital marketing.