Will the Death of Third-Party Cookies Affect Your Marketing Strategy?

third party vs first party cookies

We all know what a cookie is; a delicious, edible dessert often eaten in large quantities. But the kind of cookie we’re talking about is an HTTP cookie. An HTTP cookie (a “web cookie”) is a piece of data stored on a user’s computer by a web browser. This happens while surfing the internet. Some people love cookies and encourage having their browsing history remembered, while others prefer a little more privacy.

What Are 3rd Party Cookies?

When comparing first-party vs third-party cookies, they both have similar uses. Both are a way to store a user’s data and preferences; however, the difference lies in who uses that data, and who the cookie collects that data for. For example, a first-party cookie is placed on a website by the owner or publisher of the website and collects data specifically for that person. Whereas a third-party cookie is placed on a website by someone other than the owner and collects a user’s data for a third-party.  Third-party cookies are most commonly used for marketing purposes as it allows advertisers to track a user across many channels. Although third-party cookies are not an immediate danger to the health of your device, they are questionable as an invasion of privacy.

The Death of Third-party Cookies

In 2020, Google announced they would be phasing out the use of third-party cookies to help protect user privacy. Since Google Chrome has made up more than 56% of the web browser market according to HubSpot, this could be a very significant change occurring. Other browsers such as Safari and Firefox have already filtered out the use of third-party cookies for many years now. With Chrome, Safari, and Firefox no longer supporting this type of data tracking, Google’s announcement has signified the death of the third-party cookie.

What Does This Mean for Marketers?

Take a deep breath and relax because your digital marketing strategy may not be as heavily impacted as you thought. According to Google’s Chromium blog, “Chrome will limit insecure cross-site tracking starting in February, by treating cookies that don’t include a SameSite label as first-party only, and require cookies labeled for third-party use to be accessed over HTTPS”. This means not all cookies will be eliminated. First-party cookies that track basic data about your own website’s visitors are still safe and will be very beneficial to marketers.

If you are a marketer that relied solely on third-party cookies, you still may be in the game. Marketers may not need all of the data they think they need to be successful. Forbes claims, “having hundreds of additional data points to use for targeting ads did not yield a measurable increase in business outcomes”. Meaning there may not be a need in the extra cost of behavioral targeting anyway. So although third-party cookies may be eliminated, there are still ways to track data and maintain a successful marketing plan.

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