The ‘death of the cookie’, the ‘cookie apocalypse’, and even “how the cookie crumbled” – we’ve heard it all too often over the last 12 months. With Google’s latest announcement in Nov 2020, third party cookies will be obsolete as of 2022. For some users, this is seen as a move in the right direction; but for advertisers, this is a significant change to the digital world we operate in. 

Over the coming months, we will be publishing a multi-part series, aiming to unpack this pivotal moment. For today’s part-one blog, let’s start with the basics, reasonings for these changes, and what advertisers can do to prepare for the cookie-less future. 

What Are Cookies? Why Do Advertisers Use Them?

To put things simply, web or HTTP cookies are collections of data. A web browser passes this collection of data through to your computer after you’ve landed on a website. Your computer then stores the data as files inside your browser, called your cache.

Cookies were designed to create a more seamless online experience for users. They help fill your shopping cart with products you were previously browsing, or web pages you previously visited; giving you a customised user journey.

For advertisers, cookies are a delicious, sweet treat. They allow advertisers to target users with ads, form behavioural cohorts and interest groups based on online browsing behaviour across other websites, as well as track conversions and purchases for instance.

So, Why Are We Moving Towards A Cookie-less Future?

One word – Privacy. 

Privacy has become a growing concern for users and device holders for well over 5 years now. Device and software giants, Apple and Google, have shifted their focus to protect users’ data and have begun rolling out changes in the storage of cookies and cookie tracking across it’s devices and browsers. 

Apple was the first major player in the death of the cookie, starting in 2017 with it’s intelligent tracking prevention (ITP) update encouraged by the Cambridge Analytica scandal. But now, Google is also playing ball – starting 2022.

What Will Happen To Cookies In 2022?

From 2022, third party cookies will no longer be allowed in Google’s Chrome browser. Considering that cookie tracking is already obsolete in Apple’s Safari and Mozilla’s Firefox, this is where the cookie, as we know (and love) it, is gone. 

P.s. third-party cookies are created by domains other than the one you are visiting directly. 

What Cookie-less Means For Advertisers & Brands

We don’t want to cause panic, but the cookie-less future paints a very different picture for advertisers and brands beyond 2022. This cookie-less future will have impacts on how we measure performance (frequency, reach, attribution), analytics (visibility on who are users are by demo, location etc), remarketing, and how we optimise. 

The silver lining of this whole thing, is that we are in this together and it is happening across the entire global advertising industry. The entire industry will be moving away from collecting cookies to collecting real data and authenticated identification, which in more ways than one will be better for advertisers in the long-term. 

As we’ve been telling our clients, first-party data will continue to be King (or Queen!), so we urge brands to start looking at lead gen and building their database as a priority in 2021. 

What’s Next In The Series? 

In response to the removal of third-party cookies across the industry, Google and other tech giants have started to put projects in motion that will help fill the gap and encourage a cohesive system for advertisers to continue to target, optimise and measure performance. 

In part two, we will cover all things Google Sandbox and FLoC… Stay tuned!


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