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From Cookies to Creativity: Navigating Third-Party Cookie Deprecation

Navigating third-party cookies

You’re a navigator getting ready to sail on the vast digital ocean. Your compass? The third-party cookie. For many years they have been your guide through the rough waves of marketing and advertising. However, now there is a storm on the horizon and third-party cookies will soon be no more.

As the sun sets on this era, it’s finally time to educate yourself to prepare for the new direction in data.

What Are Third-Party Cookies?

Third-party cookies help create personalized experiences for users across the web. Cookies refer to a small piece of data that a website sends to the browser. Their functions range from small tasks such as maintaining your login status to tracking user behavior across various websites – tailoring experiences and advertisements with precision.

Why Third-Party Cookies Are Leaving Us

Online privacy concerns have been an issue for a while now. Over the years, people have been becoming more aware of the lack of transparency in data collection. Users are demanding more control over their data, and browsers such as Safari and Firefox are responding by phasing out third-party cookies. Many laws and regulations have been implemented as well – General Data Protection Regulation (GDPR) and California Consumer Privacy Act (CCPA) to name a few.

On January 4, 2024, Google launched their new privacy initiative to a select group of Chrome users, which was 1% of its user base across desktop and Android platforms. This move marks the beginning of their first phase. Since Chrome has 60% of internet users worldwide, 1% of its users represents an astounding 30 million individuals, according to Gizmodo.

The overarching objective is to completely phase out the use of third-party cookies in Chrome browsers by the beginning of 2025.

Google’s Privacy Sandbox

Because of the elimination of the third-party cookie, Google has introduced the Privacy Sandbox. The initiative aims to create technologies that protect online privacy, reduce cross-site and cross-app tracking, while giving companies the ability to continue building digital businesses.

How Privacy Sandbox Will Track Data

Google will use the following new privacy techniques:

Differential Privacy:
A system for sharing information about a dataset to reveal patterns of behavior, without revealing private information about individuals or whether they belong to the dataset.

A measure of anonymity within a dataset. If you have k=1000 anonymity, you can’t be distinguished from 999 other individuals in the dataset.

On-Device Processing:
Computation is performed “locally” on a device (e.g., your phone or computer) without communicating with external servers.

Three Key Insights About The Privacy Sandbox

Some important things to note:

Privacy Sandbox works the same for everyone across the board.
This means that all businesses and advertising technology platforms, Google Ads included, receive equal data access and functional capabilities at the same time.

It’s a collaborative ad tech framework.
With Privacy Sandbox, Chrome and Android provide the building blocks that ad-tech providers can incorporate into their products alongside other privacy-safe signals, like contextual or first-party data.

It’s enhanced privacy, not disguised tracking.
It significantly improves privacy compared to third-party cookies and other cross-site identifiers. It’s designed to respect user privacy more than the previous methods.

How Other Platforms Are Adjusting

It’s not just Google making changes; other platforms like Meta are also revising their strategies in light of privacy concerns. With the removal of thousands of interests and behaviors for targeting and the introduction of Advantage+ Shopping Campaigns, Meta is navigating the privacy waters by expanding targeting beyond selected audiences and relying more on pixel activity and conversion history.

How Third-Party Cookie Deprecation Affects Advertisers

The disappearance of third-party cookies means marketers must adapt their strategies. It’s about finding balance—continuing to deliver relevant content while respecting user privacy. The focus shifts to first-party data, contextual advertising, and innovative technologies that safeguard user information.

As targeting capabilities become less sophisticated, the focus is likely to shift towards creative strategies to capture and engage audiences effectively.

How Our Advertising Strategy Will Change?

Creative will need to do the heavy lifting by telling a compelling story and calling out the target audience they are trying to reach.

Targeting is trending more towards broad targeting and reliance on algorithms to learn and optimize. Algorithms are getting stronger and better at identifying users who are likely to convert, which rely less on cookies.
We should be putting greater trust in these algorithms, powered by machine learning and artificial intelligence, which are designed to optimize ad performance based on performance goals.

We need to explore alternative solutions, if we haven’t already, such as server-side first-party data solutions. This technology allows advertisers to leverage their own customer data in a privacy-compliant manner.

Embarking On Your Journey

As we set sail in a world without the new third-party cookie, remember that this is not the end but the beginning of a new era. Although Google has just recently updated the depreciation completion date from the end of 2024 to 2025, we will indeed have to confront this reality very soon. This will open opportunities to innovate and build deeper trust with audiences.

If you’re ready to dive into a cookie-less future but still unsure where to start, Wildfire is here to help. Contact us for a complimentary consultation and let’s successfully navigate the privacy-first world together!

Hector Romero

Written by:

Hector Romero
Media Planner