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Cookieless World: Where We Are and Where We’re Going

Those with their fingers on the pulse of marketing trends have known for some time that we are heading toward a cookieless world. Many would say we’re already there. What does this mean for digital marketers, data scientists, and, most important of all, our clients?

First of all, let’s take a moment to define our terms so that everyone reading knows precisely what we’re talking about here.

Cookies — aka HTTP cookies, internet cookies, web cookies, browser cookies — are data collectors. Web browsers use them to track user activity. Marketers have long relied on cookies and the data they reveal to fine-tune their marketing approaches for those users.

Among other collected data (page clicks, pages viewed, etc.), cookies — short pieces of code, essentially — have historically collected two pieces of data: site name and a unique user ID.

Website visitors are no doubt familiar by now with the “We Respect Your Privacy” pop-ups that appear whenever they navigate to a page. These pop-ups remind users that cookies are being used to store information about the user. There are usually options to accept (authenticated targeting) or manage these privacy preferences.

Privacy Concerns

Increasingly, however, consumers have been expressing disapproval if not downright distrust of browser cookies. Developers have noticed, and they have responded with what’s become known as cookie deprecation, which may reach full force in 2023.

This is not a new topic. As far back as the Y2K days (i.e., the years leading up to 2000), there was lots of focus and media attention on cookies as they relate to user privacy.

New policies and platforms are now being unveiled and implemented that shift focus away from (or deprecate) third-party cookies in the name of consumer privacy.

Furthermore, tech companies have begun restricting cookies across their web platforms. For example, Firefox and Safari blocked third-party cookies on their browsers in 2017. Google Chrome should follow suit soon.

These new restrictions affect mostly third-party (i.e., advertisers and data aggregators) cookies; most website and/or domain owners, apps, and CRM (customer relationship management) software will continue to leverage their own (first-party) cookies.

As for marketers in the cookieless world, Asa Whillock of Adobe stated it plainly when asked about a cookieless digital ecosystem and its effect on marketers. 

For marketers, he said, “preparing for a cookieless world means finding new approaches to engage in marketing activities that can transform unknown users into known customers — which will allow marketing teams to conduct personalization based on durable identifiers tied to known customer profiles. … Marketers have endured technological shifts before, but this one happens to be more disruptive because of the stages it impacts — the stages before a user has converted from prospect to customer.”

Despite these challenges and rapid changes, the cookieless world should be a welcome sight for both users and advertisers. Now we can all feel a little reassured that privacy concerns are being addressed while still allowing for data collection that permits marketers to target their audiences effectively.

Search engines, social networks, and other tech platforms will continue to collect customer data across digital media. And the digital technologies at play can still be utilized for a wide range of online advertising: inbound marketing, affiliate marketing, search engine marketing, social media marketing, email marketing, and more.

Like traditional marketing, these platforms can be used to build brand awareness and to more precisely target your key audience.

A cookieless world allows for a welcome acceptance of targeted advertising, since consumers will know and understand their privacy rights are being acknowledged, while also recognizing the increasing relevance of specific targeted ads.

Cookieless World: What’s Next?

So what should digital marketers expect now that we’re entering this brave new cookieless world? How shall we — and by extension, our clients — track and target our audiences in order to deliver relevant and applicable advertising messaging to them? What does cookieless targeting and cookieless measurement look like?

For a growing number of agencies, it looks a lot like Leavened. As data scientists who know marketing (and marketers who understand data science and analytics), we saw the writing on the wall long ago. That was very much the impetus for launching Leavened in the first place: to embrace the new cookieless world and make it work for our clients.

For advertisers who leverage the Leavened platform, a cookieless world is not an obstacle; it’s an opportunity to outperform competitors across the digital landscape and plant a stake in the ground at each stop along the way: channel, platform, device.

Content marketers in a cookieless world will still be reliant on knowing details about potential customers’ journeys. Get in touch with Leavened for more information about how to use our tools across digital marketing channels to more precisely target your product or service to the right audience.

Our powerful suite of tools provide deep marketing insights and optimizations. And we deliver them with unmatched speed and standard-setting transparency. All at a cost much lower than similar marketing and modeling platforms.