Third-party cookies have been a hot topic for web privacy throughout the years. Many claim that they have strayed too far from their original purpose, becoming invasive and posing a threat to data protection. Recognizing their invasive nature, the EU’s data protection laws have since classified cookies as ‘online identifiers’; regulation now dictates that websites must gain user consent before issuing cookies to their browsers.
However, the rising demand for increased consumer privacy has not subsided. Users are demanding increased transparency, choice, and control over how their data is handled and used. There have been steps in the right direction, but the web ecosystem must continue to evolve to meet these increasing demands.
Google announced in early 2020 that they will be disallowing the use of third-party cookies, joining the growing list of browsers, including Safari and Firefox, who have already phased them out.
What is a cookie? How do they work?
A cookie is a small text file that is saved locally on a user’s device from a website they have visited. A primary use is that it allows the website to remember information about the user — typically for minor purposes such as remembering login information or the contents of their shopping cart if the user abandons the page.
Cookies are broken down into two categories depending on where the cookies have come from or how they are used:
- First-party cookies refer to those that come directly from a website that a user chose to visit.
- Third-party cookies instead originate from somewhere other than a website the user chose to visit. These record a user’s online behavior, creating a user profile. With this, targeted adverts are displayed to the user according to their interests and other web-based behavior.
What is being done?
Holding 64% of the market share for all web users, Google is carefully planning the alternatives to third-party cookies and, as a result of this, has introduced the Privacy Sandbox. The initiative aims to protect people’s privacy online as well as keep the web open and accessible to everyone, businesses included.
This is an open-source project to develop new technologies in place of third-party cookies. According to their updated timeline, Google plans to deploy these solutions by 2022 for developers, markers, and publishers to test and incorporate. Once adopted, these will be scaled across the web in mid-2023.
Interested to hear more about Google’s key proposals in the Privacy Sandbox? Check out our ebook, ‘Third-Party Cookies: Everything B2B Marketers need to know’
How to prepare for the changes
43% of marketers state they don’t have a good understanding of the changes to third-party cookies, but the good news is that there’s still time to prepare for them. We get it, change can be daunting, especially when we can’t fully grasp the impact these changes will have.
However, planning ahead for these changes is essential and you must be prepared for what could negatively impact your company’s revenue. Ahead of Google’s new technologies and proposals, many marketers are looking to other alternatives as replacements to third-party cookies, including:
- First-party data collection
- Account-based marketing (ABM)
- Reverse IP tracking
Improve your first-party data strategy
With first-party data, consumers give their data directly to companies instead of being tracked unknowingly by other third parties. In light of a webspace that is adapting to put consumer privacy first, this can be viewed as more transparent. Since consumers knowingly give their data in exchange for content or other incentives and services, this creates a clearer ‘value exchange’.
Having a strong first-party data collection strategy, and a high-end CRM to facilitate it, will be crucial in delivering effective digital campaigns moving forward. This way, you will have compliant, actionable data on your audience’s activity. If you currently rely on borrowing data for your campaigns from Google, your focus needs to shift to owning it. In fact, 85% of marketers state that improving their first-party data usage is a high priority.
Increase your focus on ABM
With third-party cookies being phased out, this will result in less scope for broad-brush marketing. There will be a need for more refined approaches, such as ABM, to hone in on ideal customer profiles (ICPs).
A strong first-party data strategy will benefit this. With ABM, your organization can utilize the data-informed metrics on a prospect or existing accounts behavior. This way, you can more effectively personalize your communications to offer a tailored solution depending on their needs.
ABM is also a long-term strategy requiring a lot of time, effort, and resources for the best ROI. Naturally, larger organizations with a deep pool of first-party will have more to work with. This similarly applies to those who have invested in collecting a sizable amount of audience data from subscriptions, newsletters, and other form-fills. Focus on prioritizing which accounts are the most compatible for your organization, and focus on obtaining the best first-party insight into these accounts.
Don’t pursue fingerprinting
Fingerprinting is a tracking tactic that has been used to identify a user’s activity across devices. While third-party cookies can be blocked or deleted, fingerprints are tricky to remove once they have been collected as they are stored server-side.
This solution — appealing to marketers in the face of a world without third-party cookies — is now being rejected by the leading browsers. In a blog post, Google stated that “many publishers rely on cookie-based advertising to support their content efforts, and we have seen that cookie blocking was already spawning privacy-invasive workarounds (such as fingerprinting) that were even worse for user privacy”.
As such, this option will not be viable moving forwards.
Leverage reverse IP tracking
Organizations that utilize reverse IP tracking technology, or website visitor identification software, can obtain in-depth first-party data on their website visitor’s activity. With this, they can effectively enrich every aspect of their marketing activity by having data-informed insights. This alternative, which can directly enhance the solutions discussed above, does not require any third-party data.
High-level website visitor identification software, such as Lead Forensics, is an excellent tool in reinvigorating your first-party data strategy in preparation for the changes, and for the marketing landscape that will follow once these changes have been implemented — all whilst putting users’ privacy first.
Lead Forensics is an intelligent website visitor identification software that reveals the identity of your previously anonymous website visitors to instantly generate business leads. It works by utilizing intelligent reverse website visitor tracking technology and a global leading database of business IP addresses to track your website visitors, reveal their identity, and notify you in real-time. Users are provided with the business name, contact details of key decision-makers, and detailed website analytics. This way, you have everything you need to reach out to the right person, with the right information, at just the right time. Book your Lead Forensics demonstration today!