Over the past few years, advertisers have become used to having access to user data to easily target nearly any audience segment online based on their specific behaviors and interests—all with just a few clicks. But a study by Pew Research Center found that 81% of people feel the potential risks of the data collection that powers these advertising capabilities outweigh the benefits.

In a major move to make the internet more secure and private, Google will remove support for third-party cookies from its Chrome browser by 2023. Third-party cookies are small pieces of code generated by websites, and they’re designed to “follow” you by tracking your activity even after leaving the original site that generated them. With Google’s Chrome browser accounting for over 60% of all internet users, this move toward greater user privacy brings massive implications for advertisers.

What will change?

Cookies are vital to digital advertising. When cookies are disabled from browsers, a few types of advertising go away with them:

  • Behavioral targeting: Behavioral targeting involves reaching targeted audiences based on their behavior or “interests,” derived from the sites they browse online. Serving ads for a fashion brand to people who recently shopped for clothing online is an example of behavioral targeting—and it’s a key tactic for digital advertisers who want to maximize relevancy. It’s also the core business model behind Facebook and other social media channels. 
  • Retargeting: Have you ever been followed by ads from Amazon for a product you recently viewed? That’s retargeting.
  • Frequency capping: Don’t want to overwhelm your audiences with ads 10+ times a day? Frequency capping allows advertisers to set a preferred number of daily ad impressions for their target audiences.
  • Audience extension: Audience extension is the capability of targeting an audience group beyond the platform or publisher you’re working with. It’s a commonly used feature of both Facebook and LinkedIn’s ad platform, and it’s similar to look-alike targeting (which is related to behavioral targeting).

What can you do to prepare?

  • Audit your use of cookies. Determine how much of your yearly marketing budget is dedicated to the tactics above. If behavioral targeting, retargeting, and other cookie-dependent tactics make up over 50% of your digital marketing efforts, you may need to develop a new media strategy to achieve your communications goals.
  • Acquire and organize first-party data. Email addresses, phone numbers, customer loyalty IDs, and other unique identifiers can be used to reach your audiences and communicate with them in useful, personalized ways when cookies go away.
  • Strategize new contextual channels. Explore new digital marketing tactics with new platforms or organizations—such as online publishers and data partners—that offer direct access to customers. For example, you can target LinkedIn users based on their profile information, and data partners like Bridge or LiveRamp offer access to entire databases of first-party customer data.

Adopting a privacy-first approach to marketing will be essential to winning the trust of your audiences, now and in the future. If your marketing plan needs an audit or refresh for a cookieless future, LMD’s strategists can help.

Brand & Communications Strategist
Brandon is a skilled communications strategist with expertise in branding, paid media, copywriting, and digital marketing. He develops data-driven marketing plans and executes impactful multimedia campaigns. Brandon’s writing and messaging...Read more