The death of third-party cookies and how your retargeting campaigns will be impacted


In the world of online advertising, retargeting has been a game-changer, allowing businesses to re-engage visitors who have shown interest in their products or services but haven’t made a purchase.

It works by using cookies to follow your website visitors as they browse the internet, displaying your ads on other sites they visit, reminding them of what they’ve left behind. However, the digital landscape is undergoing a significant transformation, particularly around the use of third-party cookies — the very technology that makes retargeting possible.


The Current State of Affairs

Third-party cookies are created by domains other than your own. They track users’ internet activity, enabling advertisers to send targeted ads based on previous online behavior. This technique has been incredibly effective for personalized marketing campaigns, but it raises privacy concerns.


The Push for Change

Privacy concerns and the demand for more control over personal data have led to a significant shift. In response to these concerns, major browsers have announced plans to phase out third-party cookies by 2024. This move is part of a broader effort to create a more privacy-focused web environment.


First-Party Cookie: Created directly by the website you visit, used to improve your site experience.

Third-Party Cookie: Created by a different domain for tracking and advertising across websites. E.g. Google AdSense placing a cookie to track browsing history for targeted ads.


The Future Without Third-Party Cookies

The elimination of third-party cookies means businesses will need to pivot their strategies towards utilizing first-party data — the information collected directly from interactions with customers on your website. This shift emphasizes the importance of building direct relationships with your audience.


Why Google Ads and Facebook Might Not Change Much for You

Both Google and Facebook have robust first-party data ecosystems. They don’t solely rely on third-party cookies to gather data for retargeting purposes. Instead, they use data collected from their own platforms (where users are often logged in), enabling them to continue offering targeted advertising solutions even as third-party cookies become obsolete. This means if your digital marketing strategy leans heavily on these platforms, your retargeting campaigns are already set up for the future.


Practical and Actionable Adaptations

  • Leverage Lead Magnets: Think of lead magnets as valuable resources offered in exchange for contact information. This could be an ebook, a discount code, or access to exclusive content. It’s a non-intrusive way to collect first-party data directly from interested users.
  • Engage with Fun Quizzes: Interactive content like quizzes can be a fun way for users to engage with your brand. They provide something of value (entertainment and personalized results) in exchange for useful data. This approach feels less like a transaction and more like an enjoyable exchange. 
    See some examples
  • Capitalize on First-Party Data: Start thinking about every interaction with your website or social media profiles as an opportunity to collect data. This includes sign-ups for newsletters, account creations, and any form of direct engagement. The key here is to offer value in return, ensuring users are happy to share their information.
  • Communicate Transparently: Be upfront about how you’re using data. A transparent approach not only complies with privacy regulations but also builds trust with your audience.

How to make a fun lead magnet

Here’s some interactive examples that work as first-party data capture tools. The key is to provide something of value or entertainment that will entice the user to voluntarily provide their data.

  1. Which Harry Potter Character Are You? – From BuzzFeed. Cleverly building a customer profile in the guise of a tongue-in-cheek personality test.
  2. PICA Pooch – An interactive assessment quiz we created for PICA, providing an opportunity to capture user data in a voluntary way.


Who’s Going to Feel the Waves?

  • Small Publishers and Niche Websites: These folks often rely on third-party ad networks to serve up relevant ads to their visitors. Without access to the broad data pool that third-party cookies provided, they might find it challenging to deliver ads that hit the mark as precisely as before.

  • Ad Networks Outside the Big Tech Ecosystem: Smaller ad networks that don’t have the luxury of vast amounts of first-party data are facing a real puzzle. They’ve got to figure out innovative ways to stay relevant and effective in a world that’s moving away from the cookie jar.

  • Marketers Relying Heavily on Third-Party Data for Hyper-Targeted Campaigns: If your strategy has been all about laser-targeting users based on their behavior across the web, it’s time to recalibrate. The granular level of targeting facilitated by third-party cookies is getting harder to achieve.


The Take-away

For those already utilizing platforms like Google Ads and Facebook for retargeting, the impending changes to cookie policies might not necessitate a drastic shift in strategy. These platforms are equipped to handle the transition, thanks to their extensive first-party data capabilities.

By focusing on building direct relationships with your customers and creatively capturing first-party data, you can navigate these changes smoothly. Remember, the goal isn’t just to adapt to new privacy standards but to forge stronger connections with your audience in the process.




    Leave a Reply

    Creative Digital Agency

    Code and Visual works with clients around Australia to create and build outstanding and accessible digital services. If you want to discus a project contact us now for an initial consultation.


    Recent Posts