December 11, 2023




So, third-party cookies are crumbing to an end. If you read part one of our series, you’ll know this is largely because consumers have had it up to here *holds hand very high* with the way advertisers and marketers are abusing their sweet, sweet data. Targeted advertising teeters from sugar rushes to type 3 diabetes and users want companies to clean up their diet - and they have less than two years to do it.  

From the end of 2023, no major browser will support third party tracking so brands need to start revisiting and reinventing their digital marketing strategies. Audience targeting accuracy, ad personalisation, cross-site retargeting, view-through attribution and budget are all set to be impacted. It’s going to be a difficult period for the industry and how a brand survives it will depend on how it perceives it. We’ve highlighted just 3 ways you can navigate the end of third party cookies and completely upend the way the industry consumes data for the better. 

First-party cookies

First-party data will become one of the most important strategic assets that a business can own. If third-party cookies are the mass produced, guilty pleasures of user data, first-party cookies are the home-made, baked with love version. This is data that is collected directly from your audience and that is uniquely about your business and their direct and intended interaction with it. 

If utilised correctly, a first-party (privacy-friendly) dataset can be far more impactful than third-party cookies when it comes to improving campaign performance because it gives you richer, strategically aligned data that can be more easily mapped to your company’s goals. What’s more, by moving consumers towards targeted services like subscriptions and implementing CRM systems, you can cultivate deeper relationships with your customers by creating a cross-channel brand narrative that is value inherent and supports the level of transparency that consumers expect. 

Contextual advertising

Consumers don’t want ads. They want content. You want ads.  So as you start to phase out third-party cookies from your strategies, you need to think about the creative you’re serving - namely, and who it is actually serving - and whether it meets the customer where they are, as opposed to where they have been. This is where contextual advertising makes a strong comeback. Unlike behavioural targeting, contextual advertising doesn’t rely on third-party data to deliver relevant experiences. So rather than targeting ads based on user behaviour, sophisticated algorithms serve contextual ad placements based on keywords, website content, weather and other metadata. This way, ads are shown based on the content they are consuming at that moment in time. What’s more, because campaigns are served programmatically, metrics can be reviewed and optimised for maximum performance, making it a particularly effective data capture strategy for campaign planning.

Walled Gardens

Now is the time to lean into the targeting, measurement and advanced analytic capabilities of walled-gardens. Social media platforms offer exceptionally strong machine learning algorithms for ad performance optimisation and, when combined with your own first-party data and brand insights, offer a user experience that cannot be created on other technologies or platforms. The reason being, social media platforms have access to data about what content people are genuinely interested in and can track and segment all interactions with content that is shared within that network to create a thriving data ecosystem. Thriving. That said, don’t lean too heavily. While walled-gardens will give you invaluable data, you won’t be able to use it freely - literally and conceptually. The nature of such an ecosystem is that you can only use the data within the four walls, meaning you’re limited in what you can do with it and won’t be able to tailor it to your company. 

There’s a lot to think about and many marketers feel that digital advertising is going to take a step back because of these changes - but it’s only a step back if you stay on the same path. The best way, arguably the only way, to navigate the change is to take a completely different approach. One with a strong foundation of brand identity, that builds its strategies with privacy by design and that is inherently customer-centric. It’s time to rewrite the old rules about where value originates from and empower your brand to create an experience that transcends the subject of the ad. In other words, it’s time to pivot your focus from leads to equity. 

Contact us to find out more on how the end of third-party cookies will impact your company specifically and how we can help.

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