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Preparing for the removal of third-party cookies

Google’s decision to deprecate third-party cookies on its Chrome browser (although now delayed until late 2022) has sent shockwaves through the digital marketing community. With much of the industry heavily dependent on these cross-site digital identifiers for tasks such as targeting and remarketing, the search is on for alternative ways to locate and track target audiences online.

OneTrust PreferenceChoice Offering Manager, Zachary Faruque, hosted a short presentation on the issues surrounding the death of third-party cookies and the potential responses from marketers.

Faruque took time upfront to clarify the distinction between third- and first-party cookies for the uninitiated. He explained: “A first-party cookie is set by the domain that you are visiting and only available there. So, if I visit website A.com, that would drop a first-party cookie that is tied only to the website A.com. If I was to then go on to website B.com, or C.com, they wouldn't be able to access and see that cookie.

“By contrast, a third-party cookie is set by a domain outside of the domain that you're on. As I move to other websites, if they have that same resource, they can access that third-party cookie and track my movements across sites. It’s an important distinction as it is only third-party cookies that are going to disappear - first-party cookies will remain, which can still be a very useful tool for marketers.”

The future of first-party data

One of the common questions that Faruque often gets asked by brand marketers is whether, following the final withdrawal of third-party cookies, they will still need a cookie banner? He says: “The answer is absolutely, yes, because first-party cookies are still in play. Of course, if we are within Europe (and bound by the regulations of GDPR) we’ll need user consent for any first-party cookies that are being dropped.”

Faruque notes that with Google pausing testing of their ‘federated cohorts’ approach to audience targeting, and various new ID frameworks being developed, the way forward for marketers beyond third-party cookies remains uncertain. However, he is convinced that a robust first-party data strategy offers brands and publishers a range of benefits:

“One is that it solves the identifier problem of third-party cookies going away. If we're capturing an email address, where we've shown a mutually beneficial value exchange early in the relationship, we can leverage that identifier and pass information into the ad tech ecosystem. A first-party data approach also allows us to engage directly with our customers, and lessen our reliance on third party aggregations and the assumptions being made about the audience. As we own the data, we can start segmenting our audiences and serving them with personalized content, product, services, and communications.”

Faruque believes that, when we look at these first-party data capture strategies, it’s vital that we do it with a privacy-first mindset. He said: “We absolutely want to provide the benefits of personalization, but we need to respect consumer privacy and have complete transparency about the data we’re collecting and what we plan to do with it.

“I did a webinar earlier this year with Harry Decker, the media director at Unilever. He spoke of two key questions to ask yourself in relation to consumer data. The first - would I do this with my mother's data? The second - how would I explain this to the Nine O'Clock News? I think those are good guidelines to go by, as we all embark on this journey of first-party data capture and direct consumer relationships."

You can watch the full presentation here.

To learn about how OneTrust PreferenceChoice can help your business prepare for the deprecation of third-party cookies, visit PreferenceChoice.com or connect on LinkedIn.

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