Apr 30, 2021

The End of Third-Party Cookies Part 1: A Road Map for a Cookie-less Digital World

Ward Rushton

Ward Rushton

The End of Third-Party Cookies Part 1: A Road Map for a Cookie-less Digital World

The end of third-party cookies presents an opportunity to make a well-orchestrated move away from an old standard and push your online marketing into the future. Google Chrome’s deprecation—the software process of officially moving on from a previous technology—of persistent third-party cookies marks the end of the current era of internet advertising. It’s a once-in-a-decade chance to turn disruption and uncertainty into stronger ties with your customer base.  

What Is a Third-Party Cookie?

A third-party cookie is a small amount of information stored on a user’s device (e.g., laptop, mobile phone, tablet) that allows advertisers to track users across different sites and serve targeted ads based on behavioral trends. Third-party cookies are responsible for a significant portion of the last decade’s online advertising revenue growth because they give advertisers incredible visibility into their customer base and the ability to very finely segment populations based on behavior and demographics.   

Why Are Third-Party Cookies Phasing Out? 

Growing consumer and regulatory concern over inappropriate data use has forced the hand of tech giants such as Apple, Mozilla, and Google to adopt policies that allow consumers to have greater control over how their data is used. This impetus comes as a vast majority (97%) of U.S. consumers surveyed in 2019 stated that they were concerned about protecting their data and 72% stated that they would stop buying from a company due to privacy concerns. Third-party cookies and cross-site targeted advertising are often regarded as ‘creepy’ and have become the source of both humor and fear when algorithm-generated advertisements are either far off the mark or dead-on, respectively. 

How Does This Impact Marketing Leaders? 

Putting a final nail in the coffin of third-party cookies, Google’s recent announcement that they will not use or offer any alternatives that allow for tracking of individuals means that advertising practices commonly employed by the industry, such as individual retargeting across multiple unrelated websites, will not be replaced by any supported equivalent alternative. This announcement has forced large companies to change their marketing strategies that will no longer be able to rely on the precision of cookies and clearly outlines that there will be no easy transition process for third-party cookies.  

A New Path Forward

Chrome’s phase-out of third-party cookies by 2022 will change the digital advertising landscape materially, removing most advertisers’ current path to targeted ads and increasing the risk of ineffective advertising and associated revenue loss for the companies that do not adequately adapt to the new status quo.

With new surprises and pitfalls appearing more and more frequently in the MarTech space as the final deprecation date for third-party cookies approaches, the fate of a company can be changed by novel developments overnight. Maintaining a solid understanding of the forces at play and updating forecasts appropriately has never been more important for marketers.

If all of these changes feel overwhelming or hard to navigate on your own, consider reaching out to us at Our team of MarTech experts is currently helping clients through this transition and we’d love to make sure you feel equipped as well.

Check out part 2 of this series, where we explore projections from cookie deprecation across the general advertising landscape and a deeper dive into channel-specific effects. 

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