Third-party cookies: the end of an era, a concrete strategy on how to handle it | Articles


At the end of October 2021, we had the chance to be interviewed by Qualifio to discuss the future of digital advertising without third-party cookies. 

Other players (OMD, Nestlé Purina, etc) of the Belgium market also shared their thoughts about this crucial topic. 

The entire article is available on the Qualifio website. 

The way it already affected our business

The end of third-party cookies has already had an important impact on the way we interpret data, and especially on the way we attribute the performances of our acquisition channels. Indeed, with the lifetime of the cookies becoming shorter on some browsers (Safari, Firefox, etc), evaluating the impact of every one of the user’s touchpoints with our brand has become much more complicated. Once Google Chrome will also stop supporting third-party cookies, the impact will of course be even greater.

The strategies that we will put in place 

With our different clients, we already discussed and elaborate a plan on how to approach this cookieless future. We will be putting different strategies and tactics in place:

  • We will be relying more on first-party data
  • We will be counting on technical implementation to try to diminish the impact (whilst still staying compliant)
  • We will implement server-side tracking
  • Google Consent Mode, Google Enhanced Conversions, etc
  • We need to accept that attribution will be more complicated and that we need to go for data modelling
  • We will be looking into new ways to target people (ex: using more contextual and lookalike audiences, cohort audiences, etc)

The pros and cons of this new world 

The disadvantages of the cookieless world are clear, especially in the marketing industry. The following 3 elements will be impacted:

  • Measurement
  • Data unification
  • Audience creation

The way we look at data will change drastically, as will the level of precision this data can give us.  

The advantage of third-party cookies no longer being used for our clients is also one of our biggest challenges. We need to get closer to our clients to have more direct communication with them. Therefore, first-party data will be crucial.

The way the online ecosystem will evolve

The way marketers look at data will also face a drastic change. We won’t be able to have 100% precise information. We won’t be able to avoid conversion modelling and will need to embrace it. The same goes for attribution, we will need to accept that it will become an even more complicated topic in the future.

Advertisers will try to gather as much first-party data as possible. So we expect to see the hunt for customers’ personal data to boom in the coming years. 

We are not afraid about the audience part. All the big advertising players (Google, DSP, etc) will find solutions to still be able to make “interest or affinity” based audiences even if they’re not cookie based (cohort audiences, etc). But on the other hand, retargeting will be a challenge.

On the publisher side, it’s clear that we will be seeing more “subscription” business models emerging. Especially for websites with qualitative content. So the CPM on very qualitative websites is also likely to increase, as people will fight for those top impressions.

Conclusion: An important change with many opportunities

The digital advertising ecosystem will heavily be impacted by the disappearance of third-party cookies. Nevertheless, this doesn’t mean that we will be seeing a decrease in digital advertising investment or that advertiser will shift their resources to other channels. 

Every player in the market will adapt to this new challenges as it did for all the previous ones. 

The digital marketing industry still has a bright future ahead.

publication auteur Sebastiaan Reeskamp
Sebastiaan Reeskamp

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