What you need to know about the end of third-party cookie tracking

Google’s Chrome joined Apple’s Safari and Mozilla’s Firefox to announce it will phase out third-party cookies by 2022. This will have a significant impact on a digital ecosystem that has relied on cookies to target and track advertising for a long time.

Here is what you need to know.

What are tracking cookies?

Also known as “browser cookies” or “cookies,” they are data set by a website or third party that are stored in the form of a text file in web browsers. Cookies are used by nearly all adtech and martech platforms as a method to track consumer behavior and gather data.

What’s the difference between first- and third-party cookies?

First-party cookies are set by the website users are browsing and are used to keep track of activity as they move from page to page. Developers use them to enable vital website functionality like authentication, maintaining shopping carts, storing website preferences and saving login information.

Third-party cookies are created by domains other than the one you are visiting directly, hence the name third-party cookies. These are used by advertisers to implement cross-site tracking, retargeting and ad-serving.

What’s the history of third-party cookie blocking?

Both Mozilla’s Firefox and Apple’s Safari block third-party cookies by default. However, one major holdout has been Google Chrome, which has nearly 69% of the market share. The announcement from Google that it will end Chrome’s support of third-party cookies by 2022 makes it final. Marketers now are forced to look at alternative strategies as the phase-out nears.

How will marketers adapt in a post-third-party cookie world?

Cookies weren’t a technology problem but rather more of a problem with consumer trust. So, instead of replacing cookies with a different form of technology, we need to rebuild and rethink how we as marketers use consumer data.

As advertisers develop and implement marketing strategies, securing and organizing first-party data in a Customer Data Platform or CRM system will be more important than ever. This will allow for more people-based marketing so brands can connect with real people, not audience or device groups.

Contextual advertising will see a resurgence with the depreciation of the cookie. This will get us to think like marketers again, by targeting users not based on who their cookies say they are, but where they are in that moment.