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The end of a Cookie: How did we get here and how do we move on?

The internet has been buzzing about privacy and user data for a while now. The latest news about Google canceling third-party cookies by the end of 2022 has left quite an impression on all of us.

What does this mean for users and marketers?

To answer this question, we’re going to set up the basics first – what are third-party cookies, and how are they different from first-party cookies?

Cookies, in general, are small blocks of data created by a web server on your computer. They collect and save your browsing information and make it easier to navigate the internet by keeping you signed in, remembering your browsing preferences, location, etc. If this information is collected and stored directly by the website you are browsing, they are called first-party cookies. But, as you may assume, this information can be collected by and shared with other domains too. In that case, we’re talking about third-party cookies.

What was the last thing you searched online? Van life? Professional-looking sweatpants? Cat-sitters near me? You name it! A few minutes later, as if by some supernatural intervention, ads start popping out everywhere you look! Ads for vans, ads for cats, ads for sweatpants, cats in sweatpants, vans for cats, van sitters… It seems that the entire internet knows you’re a person who’s into van life, likes comfy, but nice-looking clothes, and owns a cat! And it is now offering the answers to all your questions at once. That’s the third-party cookies doing.

Besides reading your mind as a customer, these cookies also give valuable information to us, people of marketing and analytics. They are the primary source of available data about our customer’s customers, which we then analyze to create more relevant and effective marketing campaigns.Yes, those same cookies that Google is canceling. But why cancel them if they are useful?

What did the cookies do wrong?

It all started when people became aware and worried about their privacy online. Learning that this little cookie is following them around, spying on their likes, wishlists, and purchases didn’t really help. But, to be honest, we’ve seen this coming, even before this entire privacy conundrum.

The first sign of change was the arrival of ad blockers, which didn’t have anything to do with cookies, but they prevented ads from popping up. That being said, the data we would get in return wasn’t quite accurate because something that’s supposed to be the pinnacle of an ad campaign, the ad itself, never actually reached its targeted customer.

The second thing that changed was the disclaimer about cookies that’s now the first thing you see when visiting a website. This instantly gives the user an option to turn the cookies off, again making our data less accurate.
Taking all this into account, it’s important, now more than ever, to embrace this change and let go of the “security” and instant results that the cookies were giving us in exchange for creativity and innovation.

To wrap this up, here’s the question that’s probably been on your mind the entire time – how are we planning to keep living and working in a cookie-less world?

Here’s our plan

First, we all have to adapt our expectations simply because nothing will be instant anymore. Data collection will require taking a step back and taking the old-school approach. We have to find a way to actually communicate to the customers instead of following them around. Sending them a survey after the purchase, asking them to share their opinion or describe their experience is something we’ll be focusing more on. Allowing people to share what they want to share while asking the right questions is a good start to learning more about our customers.

Second, we will have to optimize our marketing campaigns and attribution accordingly because, without the vast databases of Google and Facebook, we have to focus on growing our own database. It is doable, but, as already mentioned, it will take more time. But in return, we will get more accurate data. And the more accurate data is more actionable, and the more actionable data is more powerful!

So we choose to look at this end of a cookies era from an optimist point of view. We are cutting out sugar from our diet so that we can grow bigger and stronger. We choose to work even harder and more relentlessly, be more creative, and prove why we do what we do better than anyone else.

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