5 Minute Read

Crumbs! What do I do when Cookies are phased out?

By now I’m sure you would have heard that we’re heading towards an imminent cookie-less future. But, what does that actually mean for the digital world and how is it going to impact users and advertisers? What’s driving this change and how do you future proof your tracking and targeting capabilities? Find out in this blog…

What are Cookies and what do they do?

Cookies refer to the data that website’s collect on their users so they can get a better understanding of their website visitors and find out information such as:

  • their browsing history
  • what device they are using
  • how they’ve interacted with your site.

Think of it as users leaving cookie crumbs across the internet so you can follow their trail.

Now, aside from stalking internet users, cookies aren’t all bad. They allow advertisers to serve up more personalised content that closely aligns to the interests and behaviour of users. Regardless of cookies, you’re going to get served up ads, so surely you’d want to them to at least be relevant to your interests… right? Well, not if it comes at the cost of your data privacy.

Before we get into the data privacy thing, it’s important to draw the differentiation between first party cookies and third party cookies:

  • First party cookies – this is where data is collected by the same website the user is visiting. This type of cookie tracks information such as language, payment method, details to pre-populate form fields, and items you may have previously viewed on their site.
  • Third party cookies – this is where data is collected by a separate domain to the one the user is visiting. It’s typically used for marketing and advertising purposes and tracks browser history and cross-site navigation.

It’s third party cookies which pose concerns over data privacy and security of personally identifiable information (PII), fuelled by heightened controls over privacy regulations such as GDPR.


What’s changing and how will it affect me?

Third party cookies are due to be phased out by the end of this year, with 90% of browsers expected to reject these cookies by default by 2023*. This is going to shake up the digital world and will impact the future of targeting and measurement of digital advertising campaigns. With mobile eCommerce accounting for over 70% of the total eCommerce market in 2021**, the rise of the app is also contributing towards the need for robust tracking to provide businesses with a holistic understanding of customer behaviour throughout their lifetime.

  • For advertisers, this means losing the ability to track user’s engagement and cross-site navigation. There will be notably less data on consumer interests and behaviour which will significantly impact how you use behavioural insights to target new customers. As a result, the digital advertising industry will need to look for new ways to identify and target potential audiences, without compromising ad spend by serving up irrelevant ads to the wrong audience.
  • For website users, don’t get too excited… you’re still going to get followed around the internet by adverts. They’ll just feel less personalised but therefore less intrusive too. Most importantly, this change will bring about more security and privacy whilst you browse the internet.


5 tips to bridge the data gap

With brands losing the ability to track online engagements, it’s important to pivot to new methods that can bridge the gap between informed insights and digital strategy. We’re in the data business, so you may think we’re biased but data strategy is the new digital strategy.

Check out our 5 top tips to help you prepare for a post-cookie world:


#1 Strengthen first party data

With the loss of third-party cookies, the first most obvious thing to do is to leverage your first party data (which arguably is more important anyway). But before you can do that you need to make sure you’re effectively collecting, storing, and utilising your first party data. The more you know and understand about your existing customers, the easier you can model new audiences and increase sales through repeat purchase. Customer Data Platforms (CDP’s) are a clear solution here, with 67% of advertisers from a recent survey either currently or planning to use CDPs within the next 6 months*. This software allows users to aggregate, organise and structure vast amounts of customer data, which is pivotal for gaining in-depth insights into your existing audience and executing data-informed campaigns.


#2 Improve your customer experience

Customer experience will be key to enriching your first party data. The larger subscriber base you have, the more you’ll be able to understand and learn from them in order to segment, personalise and ultimately create relevant experiences – which in turn will lead to brand loyalty, advocacy and repeat purchases. A positive customer experience means they are much more likely to trust your brand and therefore consent their personal information.


#3 Collaborate with other data holders

Whilst first party data is crucial, it won’t take you the whole way there on your journey to finding new mechanics to target new audiences. Collaboration between media owners and advertisers is therefore a great way to use interest-based anonymised first party data to target new audiences. These types of interest-based cohorts are built by publishers grouping together their consented viewers based on viewing habits. Brands can then leverage this first party data by advertising through the publisher’s channels and targeting cohorts whose interests match their business offering.


#4 Get more intelligent with your data intelligence

It’s not just about having data, you need to ensure you have the right data and you’re utilising it properly. This is where data science tools and techniques like Machine Learning, AI and predictive modelling are helpful to extrapolate learnings from your first party data. The end of third-party cookies is also going to impact attribution modelling, so it’s important to be aware of new solutions that will help you identify last-touch and click-through attribution. Google are reviewing new solutions for this, such as their FLoC (Federated Learning on Cohorts) algorithm, to enable interest-based advertising on the internet by grouping together large anonymous audiences with common browsing habits.


#5 Don’t underestimate the skills required

Whilst the solutions may seem straight-forward, implementing them can be a whole other story, especially if you don’t already have the suitable in-house resource and capabilities. There’s a major skills gap in the industry which is driving up the cost of in-house resourcing, so consider outsourcing your data requirements to help speed up the process and save you time and effort.

At Ipsos Jarmany, we’re committed to helping you enrich and utilise your data to predict customers’ needs, increase efficiency and drive growth in a cookie-less world. We do that by applying the world’s most advanced technologies to your sales, marketing and operational data. Start the conversation today by getting in touch. 

   Data-driven decision-making, made easy with Ipsos Jarmany

*Embracing a Cookieless Future – webinar by Havas Media **11 Reasons Why You Need a Mobile eCommerce App | BuildFire 

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