Third party cookies, the workhorse of digital marketing, are about to vanish. Get the backstory on this change and the future with our new infographic.
Marketing & Growth
May 25, 2023
For over a decade, digital marketers have relied on third-party cookies to power online marketing campaigns. These cookies made it easy to access audiences and track online behavior.
It was easy to access these third-party cookies for those willing to pay…. Unfortunately, third-party cookies are about to disappear for a few reasons. As our infographic reveals, digital marketing spending and technology have increased since the 2000s. Cookies - tiny text files stored on the end user’s browser - have quietly made much of that growth possible.
Online advertisers love third-party cookies because they unlock behavioral advertising at scale. Want to advertise to people actively looking for a specific TV or pair of shoes? Third-party cookies made it easier for advertisers to find people who had looked at those products.
These cookies also played an essential role in fueling the growth of social media advertising, especially Facebook. Cookies made it possible to track user behavior across multiple websites and platforms. The resulting data gave advertisers a reliable, cost-effective way to target highly relevant audiences.
There are two big reasons why third-party cookies are disappearing: changes in public policy and decisions by large technology companies.
Over the 2010s, multiple data privacy scandals hit the news, such as the Cambridge Analytica (which led to a multi-billion dollar fine). It’s not just Facebook, either. Several other companies misused customer data, gathered data inappropriately, and made other mistakes. In reaction to those repeated failures, governments imposed new requirements. California’s X and the European Union’s Y are the best-known examples.
As a result of these new requirements, established ways of tracking user behavior - like third-party cookies - came under intense scrutiny.
In addition to government pressure, Apple and Google changed their products to enhance privacy protections. Apple moved first to remove support from its popular Safari browser. By 2024, Google is expected to eliminate support for third-party cookies from Chrome. When that change occurs, over 80% of the world’s browsers will no longer support third-party cookies.
The end of third-party cookies will be disruptive to many advertisers. Yet, two trends become apparent when you zoom out and look at our infographic. Click or tap the image to enlarge it.
First, digital advertising spending has grown steadily for the past 20 years. A vast ecosystem of advertisers, publishers, and others pushing for innovation exists. That gives us reason to be hopeful that online marketing can find a way to thrive even as third-party cookies disappear.
Second, new technologies open new opportunities. Before 2010 - the year Verizon introduced 4G wireless networks - mobile advertising was insignificant. As mobile technology increased in adoption and performance, there were new ways to reach advertisers.
A new opportunity to grow with personalized marketing is first-party cookies. By developing a direct relationship with your audience, you can find out what they like and customize your marketing.
That leaves just one question: how do you gather the first-party data you need to succeed online? The answer is engagement - make your website highly engaging, and your audience will keep returning. Arena can help you build a thriving online community right on your website so you can gather all the first-party data you need.