Brands have been using cookies, the small pieces of code stored in browsers that collect user data, since the mid-’90s. That user data can help organisations, but in 2023, the way we use cookies is set to change as Google works towards phasing out third-party cookies. 

Third-party cookies are cookies that are created by a website that is not the one a user is currently on. But what does their removal mean, and how will it affect digital marketing teams’ day-to-day? Read on to find out. 

The third-party cookie phase out so far

Data collection is a huge digital trend, and audience segmentation is largely achieved through enabling third-party cookies. That’s been a big issue for both consumers and privacy advocates, particularly when it comes to transparency and consent.  

With data protection regulations, like GDPR, websites can’t just have a bog-standard notification asking users to accept the use of cookies. Instead, visitors have to be made aware of third-party cookies and clearly accept that use, as well. 

Earlier this year, when Google announced its plans to stop supporting third-party cookies over the course of two years, they weren’t the first. Apple, Mozilla and Microsoft all recently installed tools that block third-party tracking in an effort to respect consumer privacy.

How can you ready your digital marketing team?

Data is essential for digital marketing, and a lot of that data is collected through third-party cookies. So, limiting that collection means big changes, but it could also mean the dawn of new data-driven solutions. 

Since third-party cookies were already weakened by the other providers mentioned above, their value as a marketing tool was already diminished. But there are lots of things you can do and alternatives to consider when refocusing your efforts. 

The Google Privacy Sandbox

This is an initiative led by Google that will create standards for accessing user information without compromising privacy. The Sandbox’s main purpose will be to allow for targeted online advertising towards groups of people without using personal information collected through third parties. 

Turn to emotion-driven engagement

This is all about focusing on first-party customer data. Here, marketers rely on the information users leave behind while doing things like clicking through their website, signing up for newsletters, creating an account or making a purchase. It’s about using consumers’ interactions and relying on the fact that people are often willing to provide some behavioural data if they know they’ll benefit from it.  

Focus on compliance

Don’t worry – the end of cookies doesn’t mean the end of data. What it does mean is that compliance is continuously important. To avoid any governance issues, stay on top of the latest compliance updates and make sure you’re able to implement any necessary changes.  

Maintain consumer trust

When you have customers who trust your brand, you will absolutely benefit. Having a solid consent management solution is key to maintaining that trust. It’s also important to understand consumers via connecting across several touchpoints and investing in platforms that can help with that.

What will the end of third-party cookies look like?

We’re well on our way to the end of third-party cookies, but there are lots of possibilities that come with that ending. Brands will need to use new tools, like what’s mentioned above, and first-party cookies will remain. This will also mean a whole new opportunity to invest in your people’s skills when it comes to the evolution of this and other important parts of digital marketing. 

Through this phase-out process, it will take time to see the results of these efforts and for the change to fully set in. As always, though, companies that can adapt will stay ahead of the game. Not only will they maintain their compliance, but they’ll continue to maintain that all-important consumer trust and the ability to keep building valuable relationships. 

About Avado

At Avado, we believe that true transformation isn’t digital, it’s human. We build professional future skills to help diverse talent access and accelerate careers through award-winning learning experiences that deliver tangible and measurable impact. We upskill people, uplift culture and future-proof organisations in a fast-moving world.

Avado is proud to be a people-transformation partner to some of the largest and most innovative organisations in the UK including: Google, BT, NHS, British Airways, UK Civil Service, Legal & General and AstraZeneca.

To find out more, visit www.avadolearning.com