Goodbye Third Party Cookies – Are B2B Marketers Prepared?

Author - armstrong-admin

The end is nigh for third-party cookies with Google making announcements that they are preparing to ditch them and come up with alternative ways to gather data.

While this is causing something of a stir in the digital marketing industry, the pending changes will be over the heads of most people. People have a vague idea they are being tracked when they use the Internet but not much idea of the technology used other than it’s done via cookies. So we can expect there will inevitably be a lack of preparedness for the consequences.

To understand the impact removing third-party cookies will have, it is worth explaining that not all cookies are the same. When you click on that annoying a box on a website to accept cookies because it’s just easier to accept all rather than some, you will often be consenting to all sorts of cookies.

This creates conditions for people to be tracked in ways they may not want to be tracked so in an effort to protect users, third-party cookies are in the firing line.

The idea behind removing third-party cookies is to remove tracking that feels like an invasion of privacy. As laws have continued to tighten on how much and how detailed the information you retain about individuals tightens, the end of third-party cookies will mark the latest phase in the battle to balance out privacy with user identification.

User identification isn’t all bad and can even be useful if you have cookies that remember details you previously inputted into a web form. These save us from having to start over every time we visit a website.

Fortunately, first-party cookies that are used to aid user experience will remain unaffected for now. Great news for Internet users.

Unfortunately for marketers that rely on third-party cookies to track user habits and collect data about individuals and create targeted ads, real change is on the way and new approaches will be needed to adapt.

So how can your b2b organisation adapt to these changes and what are the likely impacts?

– When it comes to the data you gather from your own website you can still use this data to retarget users but when users have used other sites in your industry that data won’t be as accessible as it is now.

– Third party cookies will be replaced with other ways to gain insights from customer data. Google is currently developing a set of APIs collectively known as its privacy sandbox. This will use its own FLoC technology to track users without revealing their identity.

– Instead of intruding on the privacy of individuals, FLoC data will be used to show ads to people whose browsers belong to particular cohorts. Machine learning is then used to decide if a user is more likely to convert.

– In theory this sounds like the loss of third-party cookies won’t be felt when Google simply comes up with new ways to live without third-party cookies. Also with 40% of Internet users already blocking third-party cookies in their browsers, Google’s removal of third-party cookies will only be reducing reliance further. What will be lost however is precision and marketers will become even more dependent on Google, Facebook and so on for what may amount to less accurate data than before.

Alternatives to Google’s use of third-party cookies remains in development for now but when the time does eventually arrive when third-party cookies are consigned to web history, those that stand to benefit will be publishers as well as Facebook, Amazon and Google themselves. Successful online publishers in particular will already have their captive audiences and their position will strengthen as a result.

For b2b businesses that are reliant on the data provided by third-party cookies, plans should be put in place now to explore or develop further ways to hang on to existing relationships with website users. Finding ways to collect first-party data and retain audiences will be beneficial and extremely valuable in the long term.