Disappearing third Party Cookies

Disappearing 3rd party cookies: What’s the impact on B2B Marketing?

01 March 2024

Starting in the first quarter of 2024, Google will turn off third-party cookies for one percent of Chrome users. Those cookies will migrate to the Privacy Sandbox for the Web, where they’ll be retired.

Phasing out third-party cookies is great for users' privacy. That's because it restricts the amount of user information sites can track and share. It's not as great for digital advertisers who rely on third-party cookies to serve targeted ads.

But don't worry, the end of third-party cookies isn’t the end of targeted digital marketing. New solutions like zero-party data and Federated Learning of Cohorts (FLoC) will offer digital marketers new ways and tools to reach consumers.

At this point, you're probably wondering, "How can I prepare to navigate a post-cookie world?" The short answer? Adapt your company's B2B marketing plan before early 2024. Luckily, we’ll share how to create a solid cookieless marketing strategy so you're prepared.

But before we dig in, let’s understand why third-party cookies are disappearing and what's going away.

Why are third-party cookies disappearing?

Google planned to phase out third-party cookies as early as 2022. But the company extended the timeline to give developers, advertisers, regulators, policymakers, and other stakeholders more time to adjust. 2024 will be the year Google Chrome finally eliminates third-party cookies.

Google’s move is nothing new. Other browsers like Safari and Firefox stopped using third-party cookies long ago. However, this recent decision impacts B2B marketing the most, as Chrome has the largest browser market share globally — 63.47 percent as of August 2023.

Google plans to block third-party cookies for one percent of Chrome users in Q1 2024 and reach 100 percent by Q4 2024.

So, why are browsers doing all this? We'll go through the details in the next section, but in short, there is growing consumer resistance to third-party user tracking and evolving cookie laws.

First-party cookies stay, but third-party cookies go

Before we get into why third-party cookies are disappearing, let's first touch on why first-party cookies will still be around.

Browsers use about eight types of cookies, but first-party and third-party cookies are the most valuable. First-party cookies track user information, such as login credentials and language settings. Your site uses first-party cookie data to enhance users’ browsing experience and for authentication.

On the other hand, third-party cookies track user behavior across multiple sites. Other organizations, not yours, collect third-party data. You then use this data in digital advertising for targeted marketing.

After Google disappears third-party cookies, you'll lose third-party customer data that drives targeted advertising campaigns. Instead, you’ll have to rely more on first-party cookies and find effective ways to get user consent.

But why are Google Chrome and other browsers killing third-party cookies? Here are three top reasons.

1. Consumer privacy concerns

Most internet users worry about who has their data. A cookie benchmark study by Deloitte found that 65 percent of internet users have concerns about how online tracking affects their data privacy. 

People also don’t trust big tech companies with their personal information. For example, a survey found only 7.5 percent of people trust Google with their personal information.

True, third-party cookies make digital advertising more efficient. But you have to track cookies on many sites to get enough data. You end up collecting personal data like sexual orientation, political affiliation, and medical history. In case of a data breach, you'd expose all this private information about your leads and customers. 

2. Regulatory changes

Legislators and regulators in different regions are also concerned about data privacy and work hard to moderate third-party data collection. Two of the most prominent data protection legislations are:

These laws impose harsh penalties on companies that violate users’ privacy. To be compliant, browser vendors have disabled third-party cookie support. Now, they have to get users' consent before collecting, storing, and selling personal data to advertisers. 

Even companies outside the EU and California must follow GDPR and CCPA if they meet certain conditions. 

GDPR applies to any company outside the EU that:

  • Has an office, branch, or employee in the EU

  • Sells goods and services to EU residents

  • Targets EU residents with monitoring activities such as cookie tracking, market surveys, and behavioral advertising

CCPA applies to companies outside California if they:

  • Sell over $25 million worth of goods and services to California residents each year

  • Collect personally identifiable information from 50,000 or more California residents for commercial purposes

3. Browser updates and ad-blocking extensions

Websites still function without third-party cookies, and web browsers can retire third-party cookies without compromising the browsing experience. For example, Firefox’s Enhanced Tracking Protection and Safari’s Intelligent Tracking Prevention block more third-party cookies with each browser update.

Internet users can also avoid cookie tracking with ad-blocking extensions and privacy-conscious search engines like DuckDuckGo. Ad blockers prevent third-party cookies from installing on users’ devices.

According to a report published by GWI, the global average of people using ad blockers was 35.7% in 2022 with 41.6% of those people citing privacy protection as the reason for using them!

Use of ad blockers statistic

Cookieless marketing: Time to panic?

Yes, getting rid of third-party cookie tracking is probably a good thing, but it gives B2B marketers individualized customer data to run personalized marketing campaigns. Third-party data helps you create personalized emails, ads, content, and offers to target and retarget potential customers. Tracking user behavior online amidst disappearing cookies is challenging.

The new cookieless era puts B2B marketers under pressure. On the one hand, B2B customers can benefit from personalized ads. But on the other, they value data privacy policies, which means B2B marketers must find new ways to target their customers with personalized ads.

Fortunately, cookieless marketing is possible. While losing critical third-party data is a downside, it has many upsides you can profit from.

Making the most of a difficult situation: How to stay on top in a post-cookie world

In July 2023, the EU’s top court ruled against Meta, affirming that the company must get consent from users before showing them ads. After this ruling, there’s no doubt consent-based marketing is the way to go in a cookieless world.

Consent-based marketing, aka permission marketing, means you only show ads to users who have given you explicit or implied permission to do so. It helps you serve targeted ads without breaching customer privacy. The good news is that consent-based marketing does more than make up for your third-party data loss.

With permission marketing, you’ll target warm leads. These leads are already receptive to your brand’s message. They've allowed you to send them ads, so they already care about your brand and products. Converting these leads is faster and easier. Plus, you're not wasting your ad spend on leads who aren't interested.

Permission marketing examples include:

  • Web push notifications: By using these notifications, you seek consent for sharing users' information. They can choose to allow or block your request.

  • Chatbot marketing: You can use a chatbot to initiate communication and ask leads if it can message them.

  • SMS and email marketing: Customers can sign up for your marketing by giving you their emails or phone numbers. Customers must agree to receive messages from you.

Here are some best practices you should consider to excel in consent-based marketing:

  • Make it easy for users to opt in and opt out

  • Let users know the type of information you intend to send them

  • Let them know how often you'll contact them

  • Give users the freedom to manage their preferences, such as what topics they can subscribe to

  • Create incentives for users to give you their data, like rewarding people who share official work emails with a free product trial

  • Use a reliable consent management platform to help you follow data privacy laws

You don’t have to remodel your digital B2B advertising strategy from scratch. Rather, restructure your marketing strategy to accommodate cookieless strategies, and you’ll be on the right path. Here are five pointers to get you started.

Checklist for cookieless strategy

A 5-point checklist for your cookieless strategy

Cookieless tracking presents great opportunities for B2B marketers who adapt. The quicker you adjust your marketing strategies, the faster you’ll see results in the post-cookie world. These are the first five things you must do right to get on the success path.

1. Redefine your data strategy

Customer data is at the heart of any digital advertising campaign. Successful B2B marketers follow elaborate data strategies to collect and use customer data in personalized marketing campaigns.

As you say goodbye to third-party cookies, you’ll have to review your data strategy. You’ll no longer be able to license or buy third-party data from marketing databases. This new reality should be your first call to action. Your new data strategy should answer the following critical questions:

  • Do you have the right technology to collect first-party data? If not, start using reliable website analytic tools such as Google Analytics. Also, adopt software solutions like customer relationship management (CRM) that collect first-party data.

  • Do you have the expertise to leverage data from new marketing techniques like marketing mix modeling, cohort marketing, and data clean rooms? If not, learn these novel techniques or hire an experienced professional.

  • Do you have the right metadata management tools? If not, find a metadata management tool that serves your needs best. Here's a list of metadata tools to consider.

Understandably, you may need help designing a comprehensive data strategy for cookieless marketing. And that’s where Leadfeeder saves the day.

2. Focus on first and zero-party data

In a cookieless world, first and zero-party data are the new kings. But unlike third-party data you could pay for, you must collect first and zero-party data yourself.

Zero-party data is valuable information customers share with you voluntarily. For instance, customers may share information in response to a survey. Or they may call your company to inquire about or report an issue. Such zero-party data helps you deliver tailor-made solutions.

Your website collects first-party data by installing first-party cookies on users’ devices. First-party cookies give you access to users’ first-hand information. These are details such as email addresses, demographics, purchase history, and login information.

However, you need user consent before obtaining first-party data. On a user’s initial visit, you must display a cookie banner that gives a user an opt-out option. Other methods of obtaining first-party data include:

  • Online surveys

  • Web forms

  • Customer relationship management system

  • Mobile apps

  • Front service customer interactions

Early on, focus on collecting as much accurate first-party data as possible. To hurry the process up, use reliable tools like HubSpot forms.

3. Make it easy for your customers and prospects to share information

B2B customer feedback is a valuable source of information. Most B2B reviews contain rich, actionable insights that can help you improve your product. But B2B customer reviews are hard to come by compared to B2C customer reviews. That's why you must reach out to B2B customers and ask them for feedback.

So, how can you get feedback from your B2B audience? For one, you can incentivize information sharing. Reward customers with valuable tokens or privileges for sharing their data. You may offer customers free access to gated content if they subscribe to your email list. Or, you could promise them event tickets if they complete a web or survey form.

Another way to get more customer feedback is by implementing current feedback. Most B2B customers will notice when you make improvements based on what they've asked for. Seeing actual results means they'll be more open to sharing feedback in the future.

Also, let everyone know you follow all requisite data privacy laws. Then, your customers will be comfortable sharing information with your brand without privacy fears. 

4. Focus on (re)targeted advertising

Third-party data has long been the lifeblood of targeted advertising. But it’s time to run targeted ads without third-party cookie tracking. One way to do this is through contextual-based advertising and IP targeting.

With a contextual-based strategy, you run ads on platforms running content relevant to your target customer. You can get this contextual data after analyzing your first and zero-party data. For instance, if you’re marketing a B2B SaaS company, place ads on tech platforms that your customers have told you they use. There, you can easily reach more of your ideal audience.

Have fun and get creative with other forms of targeted marketing, as well. Here's an idea: You could speak, attend, or sponsor a conference your prospects and customers attend. Pay for a booth to showcase your brand’s products and services. Then, you'd have an excellent platform to gather first-hand customer data.

Fortunately, Dealfront gives you the tools, platform, and deep data you need to ace targeted advertising in any European market. Take advantage of Dealfront Promote to target the IP addresses of entire companies within your most important account lists. By retargeting multiple stakeholders at each ICP, you don't have to wait for the right individual to see your programmatic display ads. And the beauty of it all? You can perform B2B lead generation without violating privacy standards and GDPR laws.

5. Stay in the data privacy loop

As data privacy laws evolve, don't just have to keep up — you've got to stay ahead. You must follow state, national, and international data privacy laws as long as you serve customers within those jurisdictions.

To comply with these and other ever-changing privacy laws, you must build a flexible data ecosystem, or data fabric architecture, as IBM calls it. A data ecosystem streamlines how you collect, access, and store crucial customer data.

The ideal data fabric should have privacy automation and self-service features. These features help you meet all relevant data laws to avoid any legal trouble or fines.

Don’t let sunsetting cookies sunset your business growth

As a B2B marketer in our fast-paced digital world, you’re most certainly used to changes. Cookieless marketing is a big one. But it promises better personalized and targeted advertising outcomes. You can profit from cookieless marketing if you adjust and design a well-thought-out cookieless advertising strategy.

While this piece should get you started, you may feel overwhelmed to manage such a drastic switch on your own. Particularly if your B2B company is multinational, complying with multiple data privacy laws may make you feel the pressure. But you can't afford to take on the cookieless world with a weak strategy while your competitors come with next-level plans.

Belinda Roozemond
By Belinda Roozemond

Belinda Roozemond is a Content Creator at Dealfront.

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