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The Future of Marketing in a Third-Party Cookie-Less World

Trends and Insight 299 Add to collection

R/GA shares guidance for how users, marketers and tech companies should prepare

The Future of Marketing in a Third-Party Cookie-Less World

There's a lot of buzz around what many are calling 'the death of third-party cookies'. The phrase itself raises concerns throughout the industry. To combat this collective uncertainty, R/GA Buenos Aires developed a playbook that not only addresses the disappearance of this technology but also acknowledges the emergence of new (and probably better) practices that will allow for the evolution of the entire digital ecosystem.

The advertising and marketing industries are changing rapidly along with user behaviours and needs. The measurement standards and underlying technologies, however, have remained the same for more than two decades. Now, it seems is time to embrace a new context and evolve.

Google has announced that by the end of 2021 its Chrome browser, which according to StatCounter is used by 65% of people worldwide, will no longer support third-party cookies, joining a growing list of popular web browsers to discontinue this method of data collection including Safari and Mozilla Firefox.

Cookies are small text files stored on computers that allow websites to identify and track user activity, remembering things like language settings, login credentials, and past behaviors. Websites employ their own cookies (first-party) in addition to third-party cookies that allow external partners—mainly from the advertising and technology industries—to connect the user experience through different sites, sessions, and ad inventories.

There are good reasons for the end of third-party cookies: cookies use old-fashioned and invasive technology at a time when users are more informed and concerned about their privacy than ever. For this reason, tech companies are taking a new position.

In the coming months, some stakeholders of the digital ecosystem, yet not every one of them, will begin to feel the impact of these changes. Though analytics for many sites and apps as well as content management systems (CMS)—that are mainly based on first-party data—will remain safe, the publishers, ad serving technologies, and data management platforms (DMP)—that rely more heavily on third-party data—will start to be affected.

What you could (and should) be doing to prepare:

The end of third-party cookies presents an opportunity to rethink your relationship with your audiences. To understand the value exchange between both parties. To see transparency as a way to build brand equity, giving people more power to define that relationship on their own terms.

As a brand or marketer, you should:

Build a more personal and honest relationship with your audience.

Reinforce your capacity to build your own data (first-party) through a Customer Relationship Design strategy that's based on a valuable exchange between brand and audience. Implement systems to collect and classify that data (as Customer Data Platforms) aiming to build relationships with a progressive understanding of consumer needs and behaviors.

Get contextual.

Think about interests, not people. Understand where conversations that are interesting for your audience and are valuable for your brand are taking place, and participate in an organic and relevant way.

Embrace probabilistic new measurement methods.

Target, understand, and address audiences through cohorts or groups of people, and be more open than ever to test and learn. According to Advertiser Perceptions, more than 35% of marketers are more focused on generating hypotheses and experiments that allow them to understand the effectiveness and ROI of their advertising efforts, through methodologies such as media mix modeling and multi-touch attribution.


As a publisher or tech-company, you should:

Build a closer relationship with your audiences and clients. 

Offer new contextual targeting options, rethink your partnerships with other platforms to build open alternative identification methodologies, and find new ways to monetize your inventory. Some recent IAB studies such as “The State of Data” show that more than 35% of data professionals are worried about how these changes will affect identity resolution technologies.


As a user, you should:

Be mindful about your online security. 

One of the biggest challenges will be finding the right balance between sharing data in exchange for receiving higher-value experiences, in a transparent and trusty way. According to R/GA's global report “The Power of Brand Relationship Design,” more than 85% of users look for some degree of recommendation or personalized offers from the brands they are buying from.

At R/GA, we believe that ultimately the changes surrounding third-party cookies will bring about a new turn to relevance: Quality over quantity. Transparent data exchanges over black boxes. Open conversations over closed deals. Real and concrete values that will contribute to a more human future of our industry. 

It's difficult to find concrete answers on this evolving topic, but our greatest recommendation is to focus on adapting and preparing for what's next.

To learn more about how you can prepare for a world without third-party cookies, download R/GA's playbook.

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R/GA New York, Tue, 20 Apr 2021 15:39:14 GMT