Cookies are dead. Long live cookies.


Google Chrome will phase out support for third-party cookies by the end of 2023, putting the final nail in the coffin already put in place by other browsers like Safari and Firefox. After delaying the process multiple times, it appears that the tech giant is finally closing the door on this heavily relied-upon tracking tool – much to the joy of consumers and the gritted-teeth chagrin of cookie-reliant marketers. 

Google thrives on advertising, but privacy is becoming more important, and the rolling back on cookies has been a long time coming. According to a study by Pew Research, 79% of Americans are concerned with privacy while browsing and how companies use their information – and corporations are shifting their strategy in response.

So … is this the end for cookies? Well, yes – and no.

Person on laptop with cup of coffee

The Real Cookie Monster

The general privacy concerns of online consumers aren’t unfounded. Cookies place digital trackers on every step of every browsing experience – meaning that every time you open up a browser or watch a video, the everyday web-surfing, online shopping, news-watching consumer has to wade through a sea of ads that are just a little too specific.

This also means that the Tupperware someone orders for their brother-in-law, because he doesn’t have a Prime account digitally, sticks plastic containers in their face for weeks. Invasive? Certainly. Creepy? Getting there. 

It can seem that even thinking about a product will lead to at least a few weeks of hyper-specific ads. And consumers are not feeling it.

What’s Replacing Third-Party Cookies?

In case you aren’t familiar with exactly what “third-party” cookies are, they are cookies created and placed by websites other than the website you’re visiting. Some common uses include cross-site tracking, retargeting, and ad serving.

To be clear, third-party cookies fading into the ether doesn’t mean that the browser will stop collecting data on its patrons. Google is replacing cookies with what they call the “Privacy Sandbox.”

This new data collection tool aims to give marketers the information they need to deliver targeted ads to their customer base while curtailing Fingerprinting and some of the other slightly shady techniques of yesterday.

Overall, Privacy Sandbox is packaged as a tool that allows for targeted advertising while minimizing invasiveness and prioritizing anonymity throughout the data collection process, prioritizing group data over individual profiles.

First-Party Cookies are Sticking Around

Because third-party cookies already have one foot in the grave, first-party cookies have been thrust into the spotlight in industry discussions. First-party information – which is generated by the host domain, unlike third-party cookies – has long been part of the browsing experience (like the “recently-viewed” section of your favorite online retailer). Since first-party cookies help provide a better user experience, consumers generally don’t have a problem with them. 

Because of consumer acceptance and the ability to gather information and feed targeted marketing without creeping out their audience, first-party cookies are going to quickly gain importance in filling the information vacuum left in the third-party wake. In fact, Google predicts that they’ll become central to their overall Privacy Sandbox Initiative.

So Now What?

Third-party cookies are kicking the bucket. Fine. Great. But what now? Here are a few tips on adapting to this shift in consumer information and leveraging it for impressions:

  • Read up on Privacy Sandbox and become familiar with their topic-focused API and how it has changed from their former FloC proposal.
  • Get to work testing new solutions with first-party cookies, contextual advertising, and leveraging targeted keywords.
  • Invest in organic search channels to maximize ROI.
  • Get creative with new approaches using the budget freed from third-party cookie allocation.
  • And finally, partner with a digital and CRM-savvy digital marketing partner.

If you’d like to partner up with the pros at Plan B to navigate these changes or chat more about the future of ad tech and strategies for adapting to the future of digital marketing, drop us a line!

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