Digital Interactive Services

The impact of a cookie-less world

Browsers are working towards blocking all kinds of third-party cookies. This move will have a tremendous effect in the future of personalized content and ad targeting. Shyam Rao explains the implications of a cookie-less world in this podcast.

Podcast Audio Transcript

Alisha: Hello listeners, this is Alisha; thank you for tuning in to yet another exciting and informative podcast from us at Infosys BPM. Today, we are discussing about building a cookie-less world. And to talk about this, we have here with us, Shyam Rao, AVP & Sr. Practice Engagement Manager. Welcome Shyam. How are you?

Shyam: Thank you, Alisha. I am doing fine.

Alisha: Shyam, we know that cookies were used for years to track website visitor behavior. But we are looking at a future where cookies may be discontinued. Could you give an idea as to what is happening around cookies in the world of marketing?

Shyam: Yes, that’s absolutely correct, Alisha. Cookies used to be the prime means to track user behavior through the ‘90s and 2000s. But modern browsers have always been in a quest to block third-party cookies.

Safari and Firefox were already working towards blocking third-party cookies since 2013. 2019 onwards, Firefox has started blocking all tracking cookies. In 2021, Firefox has brought in total cookie protection. Google has also announced that they will be stopping support for third party cookies in the near future. Essentially, these moves have stopped companies from tracking users using third-party cookies. Now, when I talk about cookies being blocked, we are strictly talking about third-party cookies, which are cookies placed by parties other than the website owner, in order to collect data for that third party. We must be clear that first party cookies will still be available.

Alisha: Got it. So, the first-party cookies will not be affected by this move.

Shyam: Yes, you are correct. The first-party cookies, which are dropped by the website you are visiting, will not be affected. This means, the website owner has to rely completely on the first-party data to provide personalized services to the website visitors. This development has a positive effect on the data privacy of website visitors. Their consent for privacy will be honored more strongly.

Alisha: I understand. In this cookie-less world, what kind of impact is expected on consumers?

Shyam: Two key areas that will be affected by the removal of third-party cookies are ad targeting and measurement.

From the perspective of consumers, you will notice that they will have greater control over the data they share with businesses. A negative effect is that they are likely to see more irrelevant ads as advertisers will not be able to personalize ad targeting.

Alisha: Irrelevant ads could be a problem in terms of customer experience.

Also, when it comes to advertisers, ad tech companies, and agencies, what kind of impact would be there?

Shyam: Yes, the impact will be felt by all of these key players. Let me elaborate.

Ad tech players will have to modify their regular tactics of collecting user data and targeting personalized ads. Currently, these techniques depend on the usage of third-party cookies. This will lead to an inability to target individuals. While Google and Facebook have huge first-party data, now the demand side platforms (DSPs) need to rethink their positioning as providers of differentiated third-party data for targeting.

In case of advertisers and agencies, this will lead to fewer personalized ads. Ad retargeting will also be highly impacted. In addition, the loss of cross-platform frequency capping could result in oversaturation and a decline in user experience. You can also see a decrease in the third-party audience sizes due to cookie expiry.

Alisha: Yes, I agree. This will have a tremendous impact across the online advertising ecosystem.

Could you give a few pointers that marketers could do to prepare for this cookie-less world?

Shyam: Sure, Alisha. There are a few important things that businesses can do to tackle this change.

  1. First of all, you should improve the extent of first-party data collection. The mechanisms to capture as much data as possible from customers, within the regulatory and data privacy limits, is important. Since this can be a time-consuming initiative, organizations must start on it immediately.
  2. Secondly, if you already do not have a cookie consent management system, create one and enforce it. This ensures that your first-party data is fully compliant and future-proof.
  3. Thirdly, you should leverage the second-party data available from technology giants like Facebook and Google. In addition, you can also get abundance of data from publishers who have aggregated a lot of first-party data over time.
  4. Fourth, your marketing technology partners might be able to provide you ownership of the already collected data. Make full use of this and have a good understanding of how your Mar-Tech partners are preparing for the cookie-less world.
  5. Lastly, your advertising performance measurement will be affected greatly by the removal of third-party cookies. So, you need to rethink your web analytics and measurement setup. You might want to partner with the right analytics solutions providers and even build some custom solutions to provide you with accurate audience measurements.

Alisha: Thank you for those important pointers. I believe businesses can use these techniques to prepare well for the cookie-less world.

Shyam, thank you so much for coming to our podcast today and sharing your insights.

Shyam: It was a pleasure, Alisha. Thank you.

Alisha: Dear listeners, if you enjoyed our podcast today, please don’t forget to share and like it on social media. Our social handles are mentioned in the podcast page. The podcast will be available on various platforms like Google Podcasts and Spotify, in addition to our website.

Also, if you have any queries, do reach out to us through the email address on the podcast description. Watch this space for more exciting podcasts coming up. Once again, thank you for tuning in, stay safe, sharp, and healthy. Have a nice day!

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