June 25, 2021

The Third-Party Cookie Death – What You Need to Know

Nearly every website you go to has the same disclaimer – “This site uses third-party cookies” with a link to more information about how a third-party cookie works and a button to get the pop-up off your screen.

Third-Party Cookie

Websites use these third-party cookies to gather information about your search habits and what you view on the site in order to market to you later using ads. This has been a great strategy for businesses of all sizes that use ad services other than Google.

Google recently announced that it’s going to start banning the use of third-party cookies to gather information on Chrome, instead opting for a different model of info gathering altogether. Find out what the death of third-party cookies could mean for your advertising.

Why is Google Abandoning Cookies?

There are a few theories behind this. One of the biggest reasons might be to get ahead of a ban by the European Union on using third-party cookies in European countries. Every website a person visits in Europe requires them to explicitly accept the use of cookies for tracking their analytics and other data.

If Google can get ahead of the curve, it gives them time to develop other strategies in the meantime. Google’s official reasoning for not using third-party cookies anymore is to help protect user privacy. This makes sense on the surface but doesn’t account for the fact that Google ads themselves don’t actually use third-party cookies.

The biggest concern with Google banning cookies is that other ad platforms that do use third-party cookies will see an extreme loss of revenue as more users switch to Google’s ad platform in an attempt to continue effectively advertising.

One way or another, Google’s goal is to see the third-party cookie death by the end of 2022. Which begs the question – what’s next?

The Migration from Cookies to Cohorts

Right now, cookies single out individual users to deliver personalized ads using cookies. Google’s new plan is to designate people to “cohorts” instead. These cohorts will be created depending on users’ general interests. Each cohort will likely have a couple of thousand users.

While this has the potential to make ads slightly less effective, it’s a strategy that can work and help protect user privacy at the same time. However, a problem with moving to cohorts is the potential for discrimination based on user groups, similar to an issue Facebook had a couple of years ago.

Cohorts have already started to roll out for testing and will be more widely available for brands utilizing ads as the year wraps up.

What the Death of Third-Party Cookies Means for Small Businesses

The good news here is that this third-party cookie death doesn’t mean the death of advertising OR terrible things for small businesses. There are a few different strategies that marketers are using to advertise as this change rolls out.

  • Switching over to Google ads – If your business isn’t using a Google ad platform, now might be a good time to consider switching over. 
  • Relying more heavily on search engine optimization – SEO and organic search aren’t going anywhere and are less likely to be seriously affected by this change. Users tend to trust the brands that are showing up higher in search results.
  • Employing other modes of advertising – Print ads, press releases, and email marketing are still all valid ways to market to your audience. Mixing up the type of advertising you’re doing and where your dollars are going can be incredibly valuable as these changes roll out.
  • Building trust and followings on social media platforms – Organic trust where you’re a direct touchpoint is still one of the most effective forms of advertising. If you aren’t on social and interacting with your audience, it’s time to jump in!

There’s no doubt that this change-up of third-party cookie usage is going to change the way that advertising works, but it ultimately has the potential to be a good thing for user privacy and for innovation in the marketing space. 

How Pink Dog Digital is Handling the Third-Party Cookie Death

At Pink Dog Digital, we always recommend a well-rounded approach that includes a well-designed website, search engine optimization, social media, and some light advertising to ensure that if something happens to one channel, there’s still plenty of room to change up the strategy on other channels.

Our plan is to keep doing what we’ve always done: find the best platforms for each of our clients and creating a long-term adaptable strategy that brings in qualified leads and helps our clients to create a digital footprint 
If you have any questions about the changes in third-party cookies or what you can do to improve your organization’s advertising, give us a call at 410-696-3305 or contact us online.

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