No third-party cookies? No problem.

As users demand greater privacy and control over how their data is being used, businesses are working hard to strike a balance between protecting the privacy of customers and the interests of marketers.

The latest move comes as Google Chrome joins the efforts Safari and Firefox started years earlier and is set to begin the exodus of third-party cookies in the second half of 2024. Although Google Chrome isn’t the first browser to phase out third-party cookies, it is the biggest. And this has marketers scrambling.

What the heck are third-party cookies anyway?

While the type of cookies we’re talking about don’t have colorful sprinkles or chocolate chunks, they can be just as sweet for many businesses. Cookies are codes that are attached to a visitor’s browser when they visit a website. These codes may follow the visitor from site to site, gathering information about where they go, how long they stay, what they look at, what purchases they make and so on. These are called third-party cookies because the information is gathered from sites other than the ones they are visiting.

There are also first-party cookies. These cookies use codes that are created and stored solely on the site a user is visiting. These types of cookies monitor behaviors on that site only—remembering visitors’ passwords, shopping carts, items and pages viewed, preferences and other basic data. This information can be used by companies to create a more seamless and positive user experience. On the other hand, third-party cookies are able to provide much more robust information that allows marketers to be more strategic and targeted in their overall marketing efforts.

So what’s the problem?

While this third-party intel may be great for marketers, consumers feel their privacy is being infringed upon as their website moves are tracked, recorded and shared with businesses. And although consumers have the ability to clear cookies from their browsers, they can’t clear the data that’s already been collected. That’s all about to change as new privacy laws are protecting the rights of consumers.

What’s a marketer to do about third-party cookies?

While third-party cookies may be a distant memory come 2024, there are things marketers can do today to get ahead of the situation.

Grow your CRM database
Now is the time to focus on building loyalty programs, subscriptions, memberships, newsletters, email campaigns and social media efforts to collect your own first-party data.

Partner with other companies
Somewhere between your own first-party data and the third-party data that is aggregated by cookies on other sites is a solution that allows you to obtain reliable and relevant consumer information by working directly with another business to obtain their data.

Use contextual targeting
Personalize your messaging by targeting your audience on specific sites they visit. For instance, if you sell diapers, you may want to run a banner ad on a new mother’s website.

Stay tuned
It’s important to follow new developments as they’re announced because third-party cookies and other data privacy changes could definitely impact your business.

The Bottom Line

While change can be scary, it doesn’t have to be. If your business relies primarily on first-party cookies to track your visitors’ online behaviors and basic data, you won’t be affected at all by this change. However, if you’ve been using third-party cookies to improve your marketing efforts, it might be time to start shifting your approach. You can begin by using some of the tips above. And remember, things are constantly evolving and new solutions are being developed, so it’s important to stay nimble, focused and aware.