How The Cookie Crumbles: Tracking Your Data in A Cookie-Less Digital Landscape

How The Cookie Crumbles: Tracking Your Data in A Cookie-Less Digital Landscape

Google plans to eliminate third-party cookies by late 2023, meaning advertisers should prepare as soon as possible. Apple has already eliminated unsolicited third-party cookie tracking on its apps (the company calls it App Tracking Transparency), and very soon, Google will follow suit. Of course, this means that many marketing teams will have to change their approach to ad tracking and campaign performance management. 

Nevertheless, there are still several ways to continue tracking customer data in a "cookie-less" digital landscape. Let's talk about the value that third-party cookies have provided in the past and some solutions to fill the gap moving forward. 

What Third-Party Cookies Offered to Advertisers 

Over the past couple of decades, third-party cookies provided advertisers with a wealth of valuable data. For instance, companies could track a user's activity across the Internet and gain key insights into their target audience's interests, concerns, and behaviors. 

It's easy to see why some marketers may view the upcoming elimination of third-party cookies from all major browsers (by the end of 2023 or sooner) as a considerable blow to their efforts. The good news is, there are still plenty of ways to track your success in a cookie-less world.  

Solutions for a Cookie-less Future 

Indeed, all the question marks around this transition have not yet been answered — and advertisers may need to tap into their creative side to develop workable solutions for a future without third-party cookies. However, it's important to note that losing third-party cookies doesn't actually mean losing all cookies! Companies can still utilize first and second-party cookies, as well as a range of other tracking methods. Let's discuss four solutions that may prove particularly effective. 

1. Use First-Party Data

This kind of data is, in some ways, more valuable than information from third-party cookies. First-party data refers to information that is freely given to your company by the customer. For example, when customers want to download a free e-book from your site, they may first enter their email address into a form. In that scenario, they are voluntarily giving you their contact information. 

First-party data points can serve as the "building blocks" for your relationship with the customer. They offer a level of transparency that other methods of collecting information can't match.  

Some ways to collect first-party data include: 

  • Email opt-ins 
  • Customer actions (like purchases from your website) 
  • Subscription data 
  • Interactions on social media 
  • Surveys 
  • Customer feedback

2. Draw Targeted Data From CTV

Connected TV (CTV for short) is an invaluable data resource for marketers today. CTV platforms like Roku, Apple TV, and Chromecast can provide advertisers with highly targeted data and real-time analytics around marketing campaigns. 

You can combine first-party data with the data provided by CTV platforms to make sure your ads are presented to the right viewers at the right time. With more and more people switching from traditional TV to OTT options, this solution looks like it will only increase in relevance with each year. 

3. Leverage Contextual Advertising

Contextual advertising is the "automated process where a promotional message is matched to relevant digital content." In other words, contextual advertising allows companies to place their ads on the websites most likely to be visited by their target consumers. Moreover, this marketing approach is suitable for a variety of devices, from PCs to smartphones. 

Contextual advertising can be highly effective in targeting since you're focusing on users with specific areas of interest. In some ways, you could consider contextual advertising the opposite of ad tracking. Instead of tracking consumers to see what they're interested in, marketers can place their ads on websites that high-value prospects would likely visit anyway. 

4. Partner With a Digital Agency

You always have the option of partnering with an experienced digital agency to keep your data flowing. Advertising experts have years of experience with a broad spectrum of marketing methods, and they can help you identify and explore other possibilities in place of third-party cookies. 

Moreover, seasoned digital marketers can provide solutions for all of your advertising needs. For instance, a reputable digital agency can offer: 

  • Robust ad creative 
  • Assistance with video production 
  • Website optimization services 
  • High-quality content creation 
  • Thorough market research and analysis 
  • Powerful analytics tools 

 These solutions can help you meet (or even surpass) your advertising goals without the need for third-party cookies. 

Success is Within Reach Even After Cookies Disappear 

The transition away from third-party cookie tracking may be a little intimidating for some advertisers. However, there are still plenty of ways to source valuable customer data and leverage insights from that information into effective strategies and tactics. Even after your cookies have been taken away, there will still be plenty in terms of consumer information. With the help of an experienced digital agency, you'll achieve sustainable success despite the change.