A Marketer’s Guide to the Cookieless Future

By Morgan Sullivan

Senior Content Marketing Manager

February 15, 20247 min read

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What the deprecation of third-party cookies means for marketers and advertisers

Firefox and Safari have already blocked third-party cookies, and Google plans to deprecate them on Chrome in 2024. Combined with increasingly strict limits on the use of personal data for targeted advertising, this shift will significantly impact the way marketers and advertisers can collect and use consumer data for targeted advertising—meaning the search for good alternatives starts now! 

Without third-party cookies, the ability to track users across multiple websites and develop detailed customer profiles will be significantly reduced. But this doesn't mean effective digital marketing strategies are doomed. Instead, marketers need to adapt and prepare for a world beyond third-party cookies.

Marketers should look for a solution that:

  • Helps you collect and understand first party data
  • Easily tracks and populates users who’ve consented to marketing
  • Offers new ways of collecting consent deeper in your conversion funnel

In other words, marketers need a modern, full-stack consent management solution that operates at the code layer—providing the technical depth necessary for effective compliance in 2024. Before we go further, let’s make sure we’re on the same page by defining third party cookies and exploring what will happen once they’re deprecated.

What are third party cookies?

Third-party cookies are small text files associated with a website other than the one you’re currently visiting.

This type of cookie is typically used for online advertising and tracking purposes—allowing advertisers to track a user's activity across different websites and build a profile of their interests. This information is then used to show targeted ads that are more likely to be of interest to the user.

Due to privacy concerns, several browsers have started blocking third-party cookies by default, and there's a broader move towards their deprecation in the industry.

What happens when third party cookies are deprecated?

Data loss

As third-party cookies get phased out, advertisers relying on this form of tracking stand to lose a significant amount of consumer insight. Up until now, third-party cookies have been central to behavioral tracking online, painting detailed portraits of users' digital activities, interests, and even purchase intent.

With this data, ads could be highly customized, resulting in increased engagement and conversion rates. But without third-party cookies, the data available to advertisers will be heavily reduced, leading to less personalized ad experiences.

New targeting methods

As the advertising ecosystem evolves, several new targeting methods are emerging as viable alternatives to third-party cookies:

  • Contextual advertising: This involves placing ads based on the content of the web page, rather than on the user's previous behavior. By analyzing the keywords, theme, and subject matter of a page, advertisers can serve relevant ads to users who are likely viewing content related to their interests.
  • First-party data: Advertisers can leverage data obtained directly from their audiences through website interactions, subscription services, and customer feedback. This data can supply a wealth of insights when it comes to personalizing experiences and tailoring marketing efforts.
  • Privacy Sandbox: Proposed by Google, the Privacy Sandbox initiative aims to create technologies that give companies tools for ad targeting that are more privacy-preserving than third-party cookies.

Incorporating these methods could offer a way forward for advertisers seeking to balance the demand for personalized advertising with the need for enhanced user privacy.

What's a CMP? 

Consent management platforms (CMP) are a technology used by website owners and advertisers to manage and document the consent preferences of users.

When a user visits a website, the CMP presents them with clear options about the types of cookies and trackers they are willing to accept or reject. The platform then stores these preferences, only allowing the website to collect and use user data in ways the user has explicitly agreed to. 

CMPs can help marketers and advertisers maintain user trust by empowering consumers with control over their personal data. They also protect businesses from legal repercussions by ensuring consumer consent preferences are honored and keeping comprehensive records of consents.

And why do marketers need a CMP in the cookieless world?

As marketers navigate the transition away from third-party cookies and towards more privacy-centric practices, the need for a consent management platform (CMP) becomes increasingly evident. Implementing a modern CMP is integral for several reasons:

  • Mitigating data loss: As the replacement for third-party cookies leans on first-party and zero-party data, a CMP facilitates the ethical collection of this data by recording explicit user permissions.
  • Targeting precision: With documented consent information, marketers can refine their targeting strategies for users who have opted-in, leading to more effective and legally sound advertising campaigns.
  • Regulatory compliance: With data protection laws like GDPR and CCPA in full force, a CMP helps ensure marketers are compliant by managing user consent and preferences regarding data collection.
  • Building trust: As consumers grow more aware of their digital footprint, a CMP can reinforce your company's commitment to privacy by transparently presenting consent options, thereby building trust with the audience.
  • Adaptability to change: In an environment where privacy guidelines are continually evolving, a CMP offers adaptability by centralizing consent management, allowing for quick adjustments to new regulations or company policies.

In conclusion, CMPs are an essential tool for marketers in the post-third-party cookie era—not only to adhere to legal requirements, but also to foster consumer confidence and sustain the efficacy of digital advertising strategies.

Organizations affected by the sunset of third-party cookies need a CMP that supports rapid implementation and scalability—regardless of their size or industry. Having this agility allows your business to adjust quickly as the market changes, feel confident in your compliance as you add new lines of business, and adapt against a swiftly changing regulatory landscape.

With a CMP that supports flexibility and scalability, organizations can save time and resources, while ensuring robust compliance in an increasingly strict enforcement environment. And with Transcend Consent Management, you don’t have to wait—even large enterprises have gone live within three weeks

1. Enriching first-party data

A consent management platform (CMP) can significantly enrich first-party data by facilitating a transparent and user-centric data collection process. 

With a CMP like Transcend Consent Management, businesses can openly communicate what kind of data they’re collecting and why, which can help users feel more comfortable in providing accurate and detailed information. This can result in a richer set of first-party data. 

Furthermore, by enabling customers to manage and update their consent preferences at any time, a CMP ensures the data collected remains up-to-date and relevant—an invaluable piece of creating personalized experiences and executing effective marketing strategies.

2. Improved compliance 

With a full-stack consent management platform like Transcend Consent Management, users’ consent preferences are synchronized across different web applications, mobile applications, backend databases, and third party tools. Built to scale with high web traffic, and across many domains and applications, Transcend has you covered across all device types, regions, and domains.

With greater oversight and control, website owners can better mitigate the tracking technologies that collect data from visitors—ensuring compliance with privacy laws as they continue to shift and evolve across the globe. 

Consent violations are one of the most auditable requirements under most modern privacy laws, so it’s critical that organizations have a robust CMP in place.

In the post-cookie era, consent management platforms (CMPs) play a critical role in providing proof of consent. CMPs document when and how consent was obtained from users, including what information was provided to the user at the time of consent, and how they expressed their consent. This clear record-keeping is critical for demonstrating compliance with privacy laws.

As businesses shift towards using more first-party data, obtaining explicit consent from users becomes increasingly important. CMPs help manage this process by providing mechanisms for users to give, refuse or withdraw their consent easily. They also ensure these consent preferences are stored securely and can be retrieved when required.

In the event of a data audit, or if faced with a user complaint about their data usage, businesses can use their CMP to show a clear trail of consent, proving they have respected user choices and complied with legal requirements.

4. Build user trust

Marketers and advertisers must work towards establishing complete visibility into your data collection and processing activities—this is key not just for maintaining compliance, but building trust with users.

While traditional consent management solutions deploy static cookie scans (which can miss real-time changes in data tracking practices), modern technology that operates at the code layer (like Transcend Consent Management) offers continuous tracker detection on every inch of a company's website.

This real-time monitoring and visibility helps organizations identify potential compliance issues quickly—giving them a better chance at addressing potential issues quickly and efficiently. 

5. Improve user experience

As user-centric digital experiences become the expected norm, marketers need to find the balance between providing a frictionless user experience, collecting business critical data on their customers, and ensuring robust compliance.

Legacy CMPs deploy disruptive interfaces and intrusive homepage banners, which can have significant negative impact on both user engagement and the bottom line, especially for B2C and D2C industries.

With Transcend Consent Management, marketers and advertisers can feel confident they’re deploying a complete consent management solution without the intrusive, annoying interfaces. Collecting consent without a banner means your company can maintain a seamless and sleek user experience—reducing friction and increasing overall customer satisfaction.

For when your legacy solution relies on static site scans, requires tedious maintenance, and still leaks unconsented data. Transcend Consent Management collects consent and automates enforcement across every interface, from websites to mobile apps, offering your organization:

  • Continuous detection of 200+ kinds of trackers across every inch of your site.
  • Automatic network-level enforcement–no manual tag manager configuration.
  • Out of the box support for IAB TCF, Google Consent Mode, and Do Not Sell (eg. Meta LDU).

Reach out to learn more.

By Morgan Sullivan

Senior Content Marketing Manager

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