Third-party cookies are dying. What happens next?



For years, cookies have been widely used to track and target online consumers. But that’s all changing. 

Cookies track users as they browse the web, gathering information about behavior and clicks, and categorizing users in audience segments. Advertisers can then use browsing history and segmentation information to serve and retarget digital ads. 

In fact, you can see which audience segments the device you’re reading this article on is associated with using this tool from Oracle Data Cloud

Cookies have long been considered controversial — largely because they can seem invasive and creepy to the general public. But for years they’ve been the most reliable way for marketers to identify and reach consumers online, at the center of billions of dollars of annual ad spend.

But as concerns about privacy have grown, tech companies and advertisers have come under fire. So much so, they’re actually starting to do something about it. 

Google and Apple are tightening control of third-party cookies on their popular Chrome and Safari browsers, which together make up more than 80% of the US browser market. Google has said they’ll let consumers block ads that use third party cookies, and Facebook has said they won’t allow advertisers to serve third-party cookie ads altogether. Last year, Facebook cut off third-party data access to advertisers, and Twitter recently announced that it would stop integrating with third-party data providers, as well, requiring advertisers to buy data on their own.

Either way, whether it’s tomorrow, in six months, or years down the line, cookies are disappearing. And this will have big implications for publishers, ad-tech, and data companies. 

Anyone who needs to understand and track audiences across the web, measure attribution, build media campaigns, and understand digital media advertising architecture will be impacted by the death of cookies.

But what does the death of cookies really mean? Does their demise present a window of opportunity for the publishing industry — and for deeper publisher-client relationships?

The shift away from third-party cookies can be more opportunity than threat. 

For now, the death of cookies means the disappearance of many third-party data companies who rely on aggregated data to identify and target users. 

But instead of partnering with those third-party data companies, advertisers can partner with web properties that have scale and data on their own audiences, and use that audience data to create segments based on more powerful signals than demographics — actual behaviors. 

And as marketers look for new ways to enrich their data resources, contextual targeting will become more and more significant. Proprietary, first-party data will play a key role in growing and understanding audiences. Are we on the verge of a data economy at scale?

Cookie-dependent advertisers need to map out a first-party data strategy. 

Technology coupled with scale can help you better compete, and better serve clients — and embrace a new cookie-less reality. 

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