Third Party Cookies are dead: what now for content marketing?
May 17, 2021
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by Stephen Kanyi

Since 2019 Google has been working to put an end to Third Party Cookies. Earlier last week the tech giant finally made the bold step to announce a complete and true end to these cookies. The move comes on the back of a tumultuous season as far as tech and privacy are concerned.

From data leaks involving giants such Facebook and Apple to the new measures to improve privacy by largely the same enterprises it has been quite an interesting season.

For consumers such measures to improve online privacy have been welcome. The truth is privacy has been a thorn on the side of tech giant Google for a while now, they’ll be happy to finally fulfill their customer’s demands for more protection for data hungry websites.

For advertisers and publishers however this new shift towards more privacy for the consumers may not be good news. While some have already started exploring alternatives after the news the truth is that there will be an initial significant decrease in expected revenues.

Google itself predicts a 52% decrease in publisher’s ad revenue with publishers classified as News vertical would experience even higher revenue losses of up to 62%.

As a copywriter myself these predictions fill me with worry. It’s going to get significantly harder to monetize content on the web especially if they are categorized as News. So, following this change our objective as publishers and advertisers are to understand this change, what it means for us and how to navigate through it successfully.

What are Third Party Cookies and Why have they been banned?
Cookies are small texts saved on your device when you visit a website. Cookies are essential for consumers in that they will store your passwords for you and any other important information related to that website They will for instance save items on your shopping cart when shopping online.

For companies, cookies are essential in generating a more personalized experience for the prospective consumer. That is, they will track your actions both in and outside the website so that when you come back, they have a much better understanding of you as a person. Companies will know your likes, dislikes and interests and thus be able to recommend content, articles and products that are better suited to you.

This is a structure that has worked well for both consumers and companies who have benefitted ad businesses hugely in terms of web traffic and revenue. The issue however arises with the use of Third-Party Cookies which take the idea of tracking a little too far.

Third Party Cookies track the users’ activity all over the web. This means that whatever website whose Third-Party Cookies one consented to tracks their activity all over the web and will sometimes be able to generate ads even when one is outside the website.

For instance, if you browse for a book on Amazon you may receive Amazon ads even when you are on say, reading the New York Times. That is creepy. Many users rejected this structure and rightfully so, nobody likes the idea of any company knowing everything about her/him and further using that data for targeted ads.

Browsers like Safari and Mozilla were one of the first to put in blocks to the usage of Third Party Cookies. However, until Chrome, which owns 65% of global users got on board, cookies were still largely in use. These are the types of cookies that prompt users to accept their use whenever you use a website.

Now Google itself is turning on a new chapter as far as privacy is concerned. After the launch of the Privacy Sandbox last year we will now experience a true and final end to Third Party Cookies.

With a good understanding of how online ads really work companies are going to experience a significant decrease in sales revenues as a result of fewer ads. Managers will thus have to find a work-around to adapt and dare I say thrive in this new era. Here are a few tips that can help.

First-Party Data
With third party cookies gone, advertisers and publishers will have to rely on the remaining tools they can still use to collect data on their users; first-party data. These are collected through their own website, apps, services and are thus less intrusive as far as privacy is concerned.

Companies will thus have to rely more on these cookies to gather the most they can about their users when they are actually on their websites. However, first-party cookies are less accurate, more costly to run and use. They also still evoke privacy concerns for users.
However, considering the incoming change first-party data is one of the few tools remaining that can still be used to create a more personalized experience for the user.

Contextual Targeting
This involves creating advertisements based on the content the user is looking at right then rather than their behavioral profile or on some other more intrusive basis.

These was one the first methods in use before the arrival of cookies and one might sight the shift as a sign of their relative ineffectiveness. However, they can still be useful especially in a world with less options.

Statistical Approach
Big data and analytics are a rather unexplored area in terms of ads. The potential of this instrument has yet to be truly developed. However, as the internet shifts to be more private more emphasis should be put on analytics so as to find new and better ways to reach potential customers.

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