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What are your marketing options without 3rd-party cookies?

When Chrome, the last of the 3 mainstream browsers, moves to block third-party cookies in 2022, this raises the question where do marketers get their data? Marketers will still want third-party data to use in targeted digital marketing campaigns. The short answer is: You just have to get it in another way.

Let’s reiterate quickly what tracking is and why it’s important for marketers, shall we? Website tracking means observing every action a visitor does. It literally can be anything:

  • What website is he or she looking at?
  • Which links did they click on?
  • How long did they stay?

Website tracking gives you data which you can glean insights into the customer journey:

  • From where did they come from?
  • What were the different touch points?
  • Which age groups prefer what product or service?
  • Which was the last page they visited (and why)?

Armed with these insights, you can make better decisions and plans for your marketing because you understand how visitors use your website and what they want. As a shorthand: The more precise and targeted your messaging is, the better your conversion rates. But that could give way to creepily pinpointed ads which is the reason for GDPR and why the 3 most popular browsers are killing off third-party cookies.

But fear not, there are still ways to do tracking and advertising. We’re now transitioning into a cookieless world, where customers need to be made aware of the data they’re sharing. They also have to be aware of the right to choose what data they want to share.

So, if you can show how the data they share can improve their experience, customers may be more willing to share their data.

First-party data

When third-party cookies are going away, it means marketers have to pivot their strategy to first-party data.


Maybe you’re scratching your head when reading this, thinking that CRMs aren’t really ways to track behaviour of website visitors or prospects. Think about it this way: A CRM like Vtiger or CRM that’s offered by Engagebay allows you to monitor, manage, and nurture the relationships your business has with your audience, from prospects to existing customers.

With a CRM, you record what calls or meetings you had with a customer (offline), and online it tracks every interaction and touch point they had with your business. It builds a history of the person: When was the first contact, which emails were they interested in, or what was their buying history, and more.

This history gives you a rich picture of the preferences of that customer. You can segment your list when you see others having similar preferences so that you can personalise your message, which enhances your chances of conversion.

First party cookies

For now, first-party cookies will not be disabled in browsers. A refresher: First-party cookies are small files created and stored by the websites you visit. This is data you give directly to the business behind the website. Whatever you do and all information you enter on a specific site counts as first-party data for that site.

In the best case, you have linked your CMS to your website so that it can track your first-party data.

Email marketing data

People are opting in for your email newsletter, that is to say, they have actively consented to give you their email and maybe other information such as a name or phone number. Your email provider should be tracking how many people have shown interest by clicking links in your newsletter. From that you can glean which content is popular.

Going over this analytics can help you create a content strategy with more interesting aka clickable content. If you take into consideration that some mail clients also have enhanced privacy features, where it blocks tracking pixels that detect when someone has opened an email, you also want to include other interactive features such as a survey.

This way, you can also learn more about your audience, what interests them or what motivates them. Again, in the optimal case, you are using the same CMS for your website as well as for your email newsletters, or if not, have the CMS linked to your email marketing provider so that the data is synced.

Social media analytics

If you’re using social media you can take advantage of the provided analytics to understand more about your audiences. You’ll get an idea about the age range, gender, locations, and other demographic info.

Advertising in a cookieless world

It’s time to wean yourself off of third-party cookies for targeting success, but develop a diverse approach.

Contextual advertising

What’s old is new again. Before third-party cookies were all the hype, ads on web pages were shown based on the content of said pages. For example, if the page was about how to prepare sushi, ads for a super sharp knife are placed. With contextual ads, the advertising that you see are based on the content and not on your behaviour.

Cultural advertising

Instead of matching the ads to the content, your prospect is viewing, you could instead match it to current events. The challenge with cultural advertising is that you need to walk a fine line between exploiting a current event and ignoring it.

Ads on social media

Social media allow you to run targeted ads. Social media allows you to display the right ad to people in your industry, target demographic, or similar audiences to your own page’s followers.

What will be the outcome?

It doesn’t matter what technology will replace third-party cookies, I think you can expect consolidation in the digital ad market.

If there are no more third-party cookies, then walled gardens are going to make a comeback. And the two behemoths Google and Facebook have mammoth pools of first-party data – users and their browsing behaviour that no one else can access.

You’ll probably find that direct engagement with your audience will increase in value. This means you want to grow your first-party data as much as possible. Let me know if you’re looking for ways to increase newsletter signups or ideas that can help you gather emails.

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