Third-Party Cookie Deprecation: What Clients Need to Know

Alissa Ricci Headshot - 200 x 200By: Alissa Ricci, Executive Director, Media and Research

For years, many ad tech companies and advertisers have relied on third-party cookies as part of their programmatic digital strategy. If you’ve been paying attention to recent privacy laws or Google announcements, you’ve likely heard that these cookies are soon to be defunct on Google Chrome. Additionally, Apple announced that they will be doing away with their mobile device identifiers that have allowed advertisers to find and advertise to mobile users.

Considering that over 60% of web browsing occurs on Chrome and Apple mobile devices have majority share in the U.S., this news is something clients need to be aware of and paying attention to.

Here’s what you need to know about how these changes could impact your digital ad strategy and what you can do to work around this latest change.

First of all, what are third-party cookies?

Third-party cookies (3PC) are small bits of code placed in users’ browsers when they visit a website by third parties other than the website they’re visiting. A fictional example: you visit a local news website and the website’s ad server, called AdTech1, places a pixel on your browser. That pixel, aka a cookie, lives on your browser until you clear your cache and cookies. These third-party cookies could be used for retargeting you with ads at a later time, collecting your browsing activity data or serving you customized ads.

What happens when these cookies go away?

When these cookies go away, advertisers will no longer be able to track users’ browsing behavior, retarget using 3PC or serve customized ads based on data gathered from these types of cookies. In a similar fashion, when IDFA goes away, targeting that way will not be an option either.

Does this mean we can’t serve targeted digital ads anymore?

No, it doesn’t. You absolutely can still serve targeted digital ads, and there are several ways to do so. We’ve had conversations with several different ad tech companies to understand the various ways that we can target digital ads without the use of 3PC, across all devices, and here’s what we’ve learned:

  1. First-party data. First-party data, including data collected from first-party cookies, can still be leveraged to target users digitally. If you are collecting data from your own website right now, you can use that to target.
  1. Contextual targeting. Targeting users contextually, based on digital content verticals, is still an option in most ad networks.
  1. Publisher-direct relationships. Publishers who collect and own first-party data on their websites can still allow advertisers to target using that data, providing that users opted in to sharing that information with the website they’re interfacing with. This is usually in the form of online purchases or profile logins.
  1. Identity solutions from digital media vendors. Top-notch digital advertising vendors will have online identity solutions that leverage all the above data (and more) to create a targeting strategy that suits your needs.

If you revise your digital targeting strategy accordingly and leverage an identity solution not relying on 3PC, you’ll be in fine shape when these changes come into play later in 2021. Feel free to give us a call to learn how Jackson can help you target audiences digitally in a world without 3PC and IDFA.