Cookies have been a primary source of critical data for marketers for years. From measuring website traffic to collecting data on user behaviour, cookies have been fundamental for optimising websites to suit the wants and needs of customers – but that is all coming to an end. 

Initially announced in January 2022 then updated on 17 January 2022, Google has announced it will no longer support third-party cookies across any of its products by the end of 2023. So, what does this mean for big data and those who use it? 

The enterprise-level IT and technology experts at IntraLAN discuss how this will impact businesses and what the future could look like for data capture.

What are third-party cookies?

Third-party cookies are a script or tag that enables a website (or domain) to track user behaviour across multiple websites and even gather data on device usage. 

An excellent example of third-party cookies is currently used by advertisers (such as Google Ads). These cookies track the websites users visit to then provide ads that would target a visitor’s determined product and services preferences.

Third-party cookies have been integral to marketing over the last decade. Now, many are wondering how they will replace the piles of data that have allowed them to optimise their sales strategy and increase conversion rates.

What are first-party cookies?

We’ve all seen those pop-ups on our favourite websites asking for our preferences on what data we will allow them to collect when visiting their website. These are first-party cookies. 

First-party cookies are only collected by the website you’re visiting and aren’t shared with anyone else. These cookies collect information about your behaviour on a website, remember your preferences and what you’ve placed in your shopping cart. Whilst useful for teams optimising websites, they’re convenient for users as well, and you’d be hard-pressed to find a website today that doesn’t use this type of data collection.

Why are third-party cookies ending?

The simple answer: privacy. With the implementation of laws like General Data Protection Regulation (GDPR) and ePrivacy Regulation (ePR) along with other laws outside Europe, such as the California Consumer Privacy Act (CCPA) it’s clear that more than just consumers are concerned about data privacy.

Whilst other platforms such as Safari and Firefox already block third-party cookies, Google was slower to react. This is primarily because more than three quarters of Google’s profits come from third-party cookies feeding into its advertising efforts.

How will the end of third-party cookies affect businesses?

Marketers, advertisers and data engineers will be affected most by the end of third-party cookies. Once they are removed, consumers will see the end of retargeting ads. An example of this is if you view a product on a website and later see an ad for it on social media. 

Instead, efforts for data gathering will turn to first-party data solutions and take advantage of the knowledge known about users who visit your website. For advertising, advertisers will most likely revert to contextual advertising. These ads are placed on websites that rank for the relevant keywords for those ads. For example, an ad for vitamins could be targeted to appear on health-centric websites.

Why is it important to start making changes before 2023?

Ultimately, the changes in data protection mean that businesses that continue to rely on big data and collect users’ data could be subject to penalties from regulators and governments. We can’t give you legal advice. Instead, we suggest being proactive in preparing for future governance on consumer data and freeing yourself from these practices.

Here are a few tips on how you can utilise first-party data to progress your marketing strategy: 

  • Ensure you implement a cookie opt-in/opt-out pop-up for your website if you haven’t already. To comply with GDPR, this is a must for any website.
  • Use the data you collect on visitors to your website to segment your target audience. For example:
  • Purchases
    • Demographics
    • Location
    • Commonly visited pages 
    • Average time on page
    • Interests
  • Monetise your segmented data by implementing personalisation into your website to cater to what your target audience(s) want to see. 
  • Tailor your Pay Per Click (PPC), dynamic display and social media advertising to the interests and demographics of your website’s target audience(s). 

Further afield from cookies, IntraLAN helps protect workforces and corporate data from increasingly sophisticated threats, preventing unforeseen costs and easing your compliance and GDPR burden. If you want to safeguard your data, prevent vulnerabilities and protect your business, contact our team of cybersecurity experts today.