In the face of rising data regulation, third-party cookie restrictions and ad blocking, relying on one revenue stream to support an entire business just isn’t sustainable anymore. The changes in technology and people’s inherent need for privacy are making headlines more than ever, and it is forcing marketers to rethink the way we communicate while gathering useful information to make the user’s journey as positive and relevant as possible.

More importantly marketers are asking, what will life without cookie tracking look like?

Cookies are nothing new. Almost from the moment the Internet came into existence, cookies have served to collect user data. It was, and essentially it still is, a great tool but, unfortunately, its use has become unbelievably widespread. Ever since Google announced that it would deprecate third-party cookies within Chrome in two years’ time, online marketers have been in a bit if a panick, not because it is the end of the world as we know it, but because the announcement sparked panicked conversations around a “Cookie Apocalypse” that could destroy digital advertising and threaten the future of the open internet itself.

The truth is that Google had already flagged as far back as August 2019 that they were planning to make these changes. That’s why this really is not much of an earthquake. What perhaps is more of a shock is that there’s such a lack of consistency in the answers across the industry about why the transition is happening in the first place and what it signifies.

But how is this change likely to affect advertisers, publishers and agencies? The truth is that no-one really knows, yet. Most adtech companies and analysts are playing the ‘watch-and-wait’ game. There are likely to be some benefits and some losses once it has run its course. There are those who fear that it will make the rest of the adtech ecosystem even more dependent on playing with Google, because the third-party cookie is, for all of its faults, the underlying mechanism by which the whole digital advertising ecosystem transacts and communicates.

However, a cookieless world is beneficial because it leads to an identity-centric approach, which we have seen to be a more effective approach to marketing. When you stop focusing on the cookie and instead focus on the consumer’s overall journey, you have more insight and control when it comes to your impact on both.

On the up side, not all cookies are going away. Google’s announcement only affects third-party cookies, so first-party cookies will be alive and well long after the two-year mark. First-party cookies are those sent to a browser from the site visited by a user. They help advertisers, retailers, and publishers understand their customers and deliver the best user experiences on their own sites.

Another truth is that advertising on the open internet may be imperfect, but it is much more private than you think. Third-party cookies, in fact, do not reveal personally identifiable information (PII) to outside parties against a user’s will. In practice, users on the open internet are identified via a random identifier and their PII is hashed or encrypted, so that advertising and tech partners can only access unspecified users’ interests and behaviours.

A transparent and fair advertising industry is essential for the open internet. Personalised experiences not only drive value for users by seeing ads that are relevant for them, but for society as a whole. This is because relevant experiences drive revenues that fund the open internet, where people enjoy content and services for free.

The Publisher Team