What Does a Future Without Cookies Look Like for Digital Advertisers?

abstract representation of what does a future without cookies look like for digital advertisers?

The end of an era. The end of the cookie. Google Chrome has announced plans to phase out its support of third-party cookies by the year 2022. While the shift has mostly been viewed as an oncoming headache for digital advertisers, getting away from the crutch of cookies isn’t necessarily a bad thing. It’s a change that will inevitably give rise to more innovation in the ad tech industry. Moving forward, digital advertisers will have to focus their attention on developing new technologies, and utilizing old ones like customer data platforms (CDPs) and contextual-based ads that play into brand strategy, while also respecting consumer desires for privacy. 

Cookies are used by websites to remember users’ information and track their activity. There are three main types of cookies: session cookies that track users’ movement throughout a site, persistent/first-party cookies that remember users’ online preferences, and third-party cookies, which are those sent by a website other than the one a user was visiting. Tracking users, this type of cookie gives permission to third-parties (like advertisers) to then target them across multiple sites with their ads. 

Chrome doing away with third-party cookies means that digital advertisers will have to find other ways of delivering relevant ads to users without accessing their personal information. In practice, this means turning to alternatives that utilize first-party data gathering systems — information collected directly and voluntarily from users. Thankfully, CDPs and contextual-based advertising may just be the answer. 

CDPs, or customer data platforms, have been used by B2Bs since the dawn of the internet. They consolidate and store first-party data, creating a unified customer database that businesses can then tap into. Who are our customers? How can we retain them? With a CDP, digital advertisers can make sense of who their customers are and develop a personalized strategy for keeping them engaged. Some popular CDP software includes Exponea, Optimove, and Arm Treasure Data. 

Investing in contextual advertising is another option for digital marketers looking to target customers without using third-party cookies. Contextual advertisements show customers ads based on the directly-relevant content they view on a site. For example, if a customer was reading an article about clean energy, digital advertisers could position a contextually-relevant ad for solar panels on the page as well. 

As the world’s most-used browser, Google’s plan to kill the cookie will forever change the way digital advertisers target and track Chrome’s millions of users. It’s an inescapable change — one born out of increasing regulations and the rapidly-changing audience of 2020 that demands privacy, transparency, and control over how their data is used. Yet, it’s not the end of the world. By taking advantage of data-collection alternatives like CDPs and strategically positioning contextual ads, digital advertisers can prepare for a world without cookies. Want to learn more about our digital marketing strategies? Let’s get in touch.