The Drum Awards Festival - Extended Deadline

-d -h -min -sec

Third-party Cookies First-party Data CDP

How to market in a cookieless world



Open Mic article

This content is produced by a publishing partner of Open Mic.

Open Mic is the self-publishing platform for the marketing industry, allowing members to publish news, opinion and insights on

Find out more

August 19, 2022 | 5 min read

Companies are facing an identity crisis

Over the last few years, browsers like Safari, Firefox, and Microsoft Edge have all implemented third-party cookie policies that limit the ability to track customers across channels, throwing marketing and advertising campaigns into chaos. Google, which holds over 65% browser market share, may have delayed plans to end support for third-party cookies in its Chrome browser until 2024, but the deadline is coming up fast. If they haven’t already, businesses need to act now if they want to have a competitive advantage over others.

So, why does the demise of third-party cookies pose such a problem? For years, marketing, customer experience (CX), and other growth-focused teams have built their personalisation strategies on technologies that use cookies as a proxy for identity. For example, data management platforms (DMPs) use cookies to collect onsite and cross-channel data about consumers – often without their knowledge. This data is then used to create segments that are sent to demand side platforms (DSPs) and other advertising platforms to target customers.

This “black-box” approach might not have mattered when companies were getting results (and consumers were less aware of the mechanics). But the efficacy of this method will only decline as third-party cookies are phased out. The rise of GDPR and other data privacy laws also means collecting and sharing data without a person’s explicit permission can have serious financial and reputational repercussions.

Those who survive and thrive in the post-cookie, privacy-first era view this shift as an opportunity to embrace a new customer engagement model that puts identity at the core. Not cookies, not personas, but real people. When marketing and CX teams know who they are speaking to and what they want, they can deliver more relevant and meaningful experiences that strengthen customer relationships and drive business growth.

Successfully implementing this new model hinges on two key factors: (1) having the right technology in place on the back end, and (2) designing for an optimal customer experience on the front end.

Most companies today have dozens of disparate profiles associated with a single person, largely because the tools used to manage customer touchpoints (email systems, campaign management platforms, ad platforms, ecommerce platforms, CRM systems, etc.) store data and recognise customers and prospects in ways that are unique to each system. This identifier fragmentation requires modern technology, like a customer data platform, that can reconcile identifiers across a company’s technology ecosystem and, more importantly, do so quickly enough so businesses can leverage a complete and dynamic single customer view to tailor their interactions with customers and prospects. With a mechanism to maintain a single repository of accurate and complete information about an individual person (including consent status) and then activate that data in real time across systems and channels, companies can reach the right people with the right message across touchpoints and in every customer lifecycle stage.

Take a financial services company that offers insurance and credit products, for example. An individual in her 20s might want a simple weekend cover for shorter trips. Later down the line, if she has children, she might want a package that offers family cover. With access to unified, up-to-date customer profiles, the company could deliver relevant, timely messaging that supports both short- and long-term marketing programs.

Now let’s say that same individual tries to apply for a credit card online but isn’t approved. Following that rejection, she is then served with adverts for that same credit card. With access to a single customer view that recognises her preferences and behaviors in the moment, the company could suppress those ads from this individual, and perhaps serve her other content on how to increase her chances of qualifying instead.

But thriving in a cookieless world requires more than just embracing the right technology. The companies that win will be the ones that also prioritise the front-end customer experience. To create a customer experience that’s beneficial to both the business and customers, companies need to balance three key “ingredients”: authentication, value exchange, and consent.

Value exchange is key to gaining authentication and consent. To earn consent, companies need to offer substantial value to their customers and prospects by giving them something back in return for their data – including an experience that recognises their privacy and preferences regardless of where they are interacting with the brand. If a person identifies themselves through an app login, email newsletter sign-up, or other method, often they expect a company to be able to use data to personalise their experiences – especially if they are providing preferential data while logged in.

The death of the third-party cookie is changing the “rules” for modern customer engagement. By embracing tech that offers a single view of each customer and an approach that incorporates authentication, consent, and value exchange into the customer experience, companies can future-proof their business and emerge from the cookiepocalypse stronger than before.

Third-party Cookies First-party Data CDP


Industry insights

View all
Add your own content +