What are Cookies? 

Crisp edges, chewy middles, filled with delicious chocolate chips… Just kidding!

In a nutshell, cookies are small bits of data stored as text files within web browsers. They collect and store user information, allowing advertisers/businesses to understand their audiences behaviours, and reach the right potential buyers.

First Party Cookies are used to help websites keep track of site visits and activity.

Third Party Cookies are used for ad retargeting and behavioural advertising. By adding tags to a page, advertisers can track a user across the web as they visit different websites, further building audiences based on this search behaviour so that they can serve more relevant content.

Why are third party cookies problematic?

Third Party Cookies have been under fire throughout the decade, as public concerns around privacy and security continue to grow.

In January 2020, Google announced its plan to phase out third party cookies within two years in order to make the web more secure and private for users. Google Chrome will join other browsers such as Safari and Firefox who are already blocking third party cookies. The main reason why this made such a commotion was due to Chrome’s popularity amongst web browsers. Chrome is used by over 60% of users worldwide.

What does this mean for advertisers? 

Third party cookies are not the only way to serve ads. The most widely used techniques include:

  • Device fingerprinting – registers device, location, time zone, plugins, apps and operating systems.Allowing marketers to follow users around the web via logins such as Gmail log in on different sites.

  • Pixel Syncing and Universal ID’s- Syncing is the only way to follow users across the web.It takes place on a third party website and thus can slow down the user’s experience.

  • DigiTrust. An initiative by the IAB – a universal user token which stores conventional cookie data and allows members to share it without the need for syncing.

  • ID5 Universal ID Solution via Prebid- Publishers can retrieve the ID5 ID, store it on a first party cookie and pass it to their demand partners via a simple on-page configuration.Allowing DSPs, SSPs and DMPs to trade using a common currency- a shared user identifier.

Although cookies should be around for the next year or so, there’s no better time than the present to learn about new advertising opportunities. Andrew Sandoval, discusses the three critical areas to monitor for a successful transition to a cookieless web.

  1. The first is the long-standing battle of the browsers and the very different paths that Chrome and Safari have taken on privacy. In the end, will they settle on a universal set of standards?

  2. The web’s walled gardens are the second area to watch: How will Facebook, Google and Amazon help marketers mine customer behaviors in a cookieless environment? They are already introducing promising products that could help.

  3. The third area – and the most unsettled – is measurement. Marketers built their measurement schemes from the data provided by cookies. Now they must devise other ways to measure, but will they be as effective? Marketers may come to rely on A/B,matched market testing or media mix modelling.

The idea of advertising without cookies may seem overwhelming right now, but marketers will always find a way to adapt and make things better. We may see an increase in cookieless platforms or an emphasis on testing sophisticated contextual targeting to help us understand the performance of tomorrow.Or perhaps it’s capitalizing Firefox and Safari now, running measurement tests to ensure we are set up for what’s ahead?

Remember when everyone had to figure out social media for the first time? Change in marketing is inevitable, that’s just the way the cookie crumbles…