Kresten Bergsøe
Kresten Bergsøe 30 April 2020

Winter is Coming - The Death and Rebirth of the Cookie

Winter is coming: the death and rebirth of the cookie. Who will suffer, who will gain and what you can do about it?

The perfect storm is gathering to finally kill the third-party cookie that has been the cornerstone of the online ad industry since the invention of the browser. This little snitch that silently whispers your identity across domains and adservices is being targeted not only by EU and US legislation but finally from the major players in the tech community.

Safari started blocking third-party cookies with ITP back in 2018; Firefox followed suit with ETP in 2019 and finally the elephant in the room, Chrome announced this February that it will block third-party cookies within the next two years. With Chrome's massive global market share of more than 60%, it spells the end of online advertising as we know it. The impact of this tectonic shift cannot be overstated.

Who wins and who loses?

The walled garden has massive amounts of first-party data will directly benefit from this change. The three big are: Google, Facebook and Amazon. The display advertising industry and programmatic that does retargeting will suffer as their audience pools simply dries out as third-party cookies are being removed.

The following will die or have to reinvent fundamentally new technology to keep alive:

  • Targeted display advertising based on ad networks data.
  • Retargeting display advertising based on targeting previous visitors to your website.
  • Targeting lookalike audiences based on ad networks data.

What to do about it

Rather than buying access to audiences who have no previous experience or contact with your site or brand through display you will be forced to move more of your advertising budget within the big walled gardens of Google and Facebook.

Fortunately you will still be gathering huge volumes of first-party data. And when global online advertising will become even more consolidated and monopolised, the prospects and customers visiting your site should be your primary focus.

First-party cookies will survive - so can you

While third-party cookies are approaching end of life. The cookies that your website are setting in visitors browsers and that are only accessible within your own domain. First party cookies are not targeted by the latest war on cookies and will survive.

This mean that the data you collect on your own digital channels are still available for you to target your messaging and the experiences you deliver on your owned channels like web, email and apps. Whatever you can do to improve their experience - you should do.

These visitors are your only real source of future revenue and you should start using the data you got on these visitors to deliver a more relevant and targeted experience when they engage with you online. It’s time to think long and hard about what should be the real benefit for prospects and customers to engage in a conversation, subscription, registration or membership with your business.

The time of hollow loyalty schemes are approaching end of life - and that's a good thing.

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