Blog Post

Preparing for the Inevitable Cookieless Future

02/14/2023 - Sierra Ducey

Talks of a cookieless future have been ongoing since 2019. What was originally planned for 2022 is now postponed until the second half of 2024. But what exactly do these setbacks mean for marketing and advertising professionals? Let’s break it down, starting with the basics.

What Is Cookie-Based Advertising?

Historically, digital advertisers have relied on third-party cookies to accurately target and measure the effectiveness of digital advertisements. There is a huge bank of third-party cookie-based audiences that advertisers can rely on to reach nearly any group of consumers — from high-level categories to niche shoppers. Additionally, as users navigate from one digital domain to the next, third-party cookies on the device travel with them — making the ability to know whether the user who saw the ad is also the user who made a purchase relatively simple.

However, in an effort by tech giant Google to prioritize consumer privacy, cookies will be dissolved as targeting and tracking tools. While a variety of companies work to find replacements to the beloved third-party cookies, Google’s current replacement initiative, known as the Privacy Sandbox, will take its place in the near future.

The anticipated roll-out of Google’s updates is slated for the second half of 2024. While this date has been delayed a handful of times, marketers should still be aware that a cookieless future for advertising will eventually happen. Each delayed deadline has only been in an effort by Google to ensure new Privacy Sandbox technologies operate smoothly before completely depreciating cookies. Ultimately, the shift to cookieless advertising is inevitable and is even already happening on some level with companies like Apple.

How Does the Delay Affect Advertisers?

The future is cookieless. Google’s announcement only postponed what will eventually happen. As an advertiser, this likely puts you in one of two situations:

  • You already started shifting from third-party cookies, and the delay serves as a great opportunity to continue to test cookieless solutions in a low-pressure environment.


  • You are still using third-party cookies as your primary data source, and the delay has only given you more leeway to continue to push back from making the switch.

If you haven’t already started implementing cookieless solutions, it’s ultimately detrimental to continue pushing off the inevitable. While it might be easy to keep delaying advertising strategy changes with every postponement, advertisers willing to test and try new solutions will be poised with a solid strategy once third-party cookies are officially removed.

Moving Forward in Cookieless Future Advertising

While it might be confusing, frustrating, and overwhelming that delays continue to happen, the overall goal of Google removing third-party cookies is to put consumers first. Consumers value brands that value their privacy and use data in a customer-first manner. So how can you work toward that now, even if you’re still using cookie-based advertising strategies? Here are a few places to begin:

1. In case we weren’t clear: Get started sooner rather than later.

While it’s easy to push off making necessary cookie-based advertising changes until the delay gets closer, in this case, we strongly believe the early bird will get the worm. Certainly, advertisers willing to test and try cookieless advertising — even with a small budget — will have a solid strategy and be in a much better position for success once third-party cookies are inevitably removed.

2. Hone a sustainable approach to data.

In the age of technology, consumers care about their privacy now more than ever. Fortunately, you can use alternative forms of data — like first-party or zero-party data — to create personalized and effective advertising for your target audience.

What is first-party data?

When you passively collect information about a consumer’s activity on your website, you are collecting first-party data. This can be buying history, campaign responses, browsing data, and basic demographic information. First-party data is not explicitly shared by the consumer. However, it is preferred to third-party data, as it is owned by the brand but still works to offer effective advertising and the personalized experiences that consumers prefer.

What is zero-party data?

With zero-party data, all data collected is specifically and intentionally shared by the consumer (through forms or surveys, for example). This data can then be implemented into campaigns so you can transparently and authentically continue offering personalized customer experiences, even in a cookieless future.

Click here to learn more about first-party and zero-party data.

3. Continue to test cookieless solutions.

There are already many inherently cookieless advertising solutions available for your specific advertising needs. Now is the time to implement them in campaigns and plan a strong strategy for the future. In a less pressured environment, it’s a great time to continue to run your cookie-based campaigns in the background and spend some time on “test budgets” within inherently cookieless solutions, such as the following:

  • CTV and OTT advertising.
  • Digital audio and podcast advertising.
  • Contextual targeting.
  • Data clean rooms and walled gardens.

Click here to view a full list of cookieless tactics.

4. Plan future-proof measurement strategies.

Measurement continues to be the bigger question for advertisers who have long relied on third-party cookie tracking. While there is no overarching answer for what will replace measurement with third-party cookies, it will likely be broken down into cohort-based, individual-based, or survey-based measurement.

Partnering with a digital advertising agency can ensure you are up-to-date on all the latest technologies released to combat the worries advertisers have in light of the cookieless future. At Digilant, we pride ourselves on partnering with the best data providers and measurement solutions to ensure our clients are poised for success, no matter what the future holds or what forms of data they use.

Ready to Get Started With Cookies and Targeted Advertising?

Now is the time to get a step ahead of your competitors. Digilant has a team of data experts and ample third-party cookieless solutions already on the market. Additionally, we continue to grow our tactics and partnerships to ensure our clients are poised for a successful future, no matter what targeted solutions are available.

Changes that prompt better consumer privacy and data practices are happily welcomed by Digilant. If you’re ready to begin or improve your cookieless advertising strategies, contact our team today.

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