A Digital Marketer’s Take on a Cookie-less World

A Digital Marketer’s Take on a Cookie-less World | Digital Marketing | Emeritus

In Q1 2024, Chrome restricted third-party cookies by default for 1% of users. This summer, global Chrome users will enter a new digital era of third-party cookie phase-out. What does the cookie deprecation mean for digital marketers? Does this mean that, as a user, I won’t see any retargeting display ads for a pair of shoes from my abandoned cart? Most importantly, how will marketers track their campaign performance?

To find the answers to the questions above, we first need to define cookies and their types.



What are Cookies: Types of Cookies and Their Functions

Cookies are small pieces of data stored on users’ devices by websites they visit.

These data packets contain information such as login credentials, preferences, like tennis or science fiction, and browsing history. Cookies enable websites to personalize content, remember user settings, and track user activity.

There are mainly three types of cookies:

  • First-party cookies
  • Second-party cookies
  • Third-party cookies

What are First-Party Cookies?

These cookies are made and handled by the website you visit. They’re like a helpful memory, remembering things like your language choice, login information, and what’s in your shopping cart. First-party cookies are like assistants and make websites work better for you. This type of cookie is the least invasive because the website manages them directly.

What are Second-Party Cookies?

These cookies are not as common as the others. They’re like a bridge between first-party and third-party cookies. They come from a different website but are connected to the one you’re on. For example, if a website shares its cookies with a friend’s website, those cookies are called second-party cookies. They’re often used for advertising or tracking, but only between trusted partners.

What are Third-Party Cookies?

These cookies originate from different websites, not the one you’re currently on. They’re often utilized to track your online activities, such as the websites you visit, for advertising and analysis purposes. They can raise privacy concerns because they enable advertisers and other entities to gather significant information about your web browsing habits.

Customer Journey Map Using Cookies

Let’s apply this concept and illustrate a customer journey in terms of cookies: You’re browsing an e-commerce site and come across a hiking backpack you like. You proceed to create an account and add the backpack to your cart. However, you get distracted and begin watching something on YouTube. Your login credentials and the items in your cart constitute first-party cookies. The e-commerce website may share this data with their trusted partners’ websites, perhaps to suggest a complementary product like a backpacking tent. This interaction involves the collection of second-party cookies. Later, you notice remarketing ads on Instagram featuring the backpack you had added to your cart. This exemplifies the impactful role of third-party cookies.

Are We Moving to a Cookieless World?

If we imagine a future without third-party cookies, we might envision a digital world lacking in tracking and measurement capabilities. Companies would no longer have access to such accurate and comprehensive consumer profiles. The absence of data regarding potential audiences would lead to challenges in targeting efforts.

It is indeed a significant win for privacy. However, it will also impact the measurement of marketing performance. For further reference, you can also read the update on developers.google.com: Prepare for third-party cookie restrictions.

Another effect of a cookie-less world could be the impact on smaller media providers. Since tech giants like Meta and Google have sufficient resources and significant opportunities to develop and provide cross-site reach, advertisers may choose them over smaller providers.

Marketing Challenges Without Cookies

  • Cross-channel tracking
  • Attribution
  • Impact on ROI measurement

How to Track the Impact of Marketing Without Cookies

First and foremost, utilizing and leveraging first-party data would be crucial. Additionally, implementing AI-driven attribution models is a new frontier. Adopt advanced attribution models powered by artificial intelligence that leverage alternative data sources such as impressions, click-through rates, and engagement metrics to accurately attribute conversions across the customer journey.

AI-driven models that focus on impressions rather than solely relying on cookies are becoming increasingly important. The DDA model, for instance, utilizes artificial intelligence to comprehend how ads influence buyers. By transitioning to these smarter methods, businesses can make better decisions and extract more value from their marketing budgets.

Anyway, we are on the verge of a significant change, and it is exciting to witness how digital marketing is evolving. What effect will cookie deprecation have on the industry?

Please share your ideas in the comments.

NOTE: The views expressed in this article are those of the author and not of Emeritus.

About the Author


Digital Marketing Expert
Olena Zhyhalo is an experienced digital marketing specialist with over eight years in the field. Passionate about Search Engine Marketing (SEO) and customer engagement, Olena excels in content marketing, marketing automation, lead generation, and social media marketing. She's dedicated to driving results through data-driven strategies and staying at the forefront of industry trends. Olena's goal is to inspire fellow marketers and help businesses succeed in the digital world.
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