Third-Party Cookies – Everything You Need to Know

Unfortunately, we're not talking about the warm and gooey kind. Instead, we're looking at everything you should know about the changes coming to third-party cookies and how you can prepare

Third-Party Cookies – Everything You Need to Know

You don’t have to be a marketing professional to understand cookies. In fact, every internet user should be at least vaguely familiar with the technology, as it affects all of us whether we use the internet for working, gaming, shopping, or anything in between. Today we’re going to give you the rundown on third-party cookies.

What are cookies?

As you probably already know, cookies are files that track your online activity in order to serve you advertisements specifically tailored to your tastes and interests. Cookies have always been controversial, but whether you love them or hate them, there’s no denying that they have fundamentally changed the way users interact with content online.

First-party cookies are largely accepted by most internet users. These are cookies that track your activity on a specific website, to make using it easier. For example, Amazon uses first-party cookies when you sign in to do things like save your login information, keep track of the items you’ve added to your basket, and offer you suggestions while you are using the site. Essentially, the site wouldn’t really work without these cookies.

Third-party cookies are where things can get tricky. These are the cookies that track your activity once you have left the website, for the purposes of serving you personalised ads. Advertisers see this as a win-win for the user, providing a more personalised experience for the user and offering valuable data to the advertiser. However, some see this as an invasion of privacy.

What’s changing?

Up until now, digital marketers and advertisers have been working with huge audience segments, and this has been achieved largely through the use of third-party cookies. As online shopping has come to be the norm, consumers have seen the number of targeted ads they see grow exponentially.

Consumers and privacy advocates see this as a major issue, which has led to the creation of the General Data Protection Regulation (GDPR). GDPR is the reason that sites must now request your consent to track you across other websites, allowing you to opt-out if you please. The same goes for apps on your phone.

Now, Google is ending their support for third-party cookies, meaning that advertisers will no longer be able to track customers on Chrome. It follows moves from Apple and Mozilla, meaning that we are essentially reaching the end of third-party cookies.

What can I do?

Although cookies may not be as useful as they once were, there are other tools that advertisers and marketers can use to reach potential customers in different ways. One such tool is LiveRamp’s Authenticated Traffic Solution (ATS), which aims to replace third-party tracking with authenticated user tracking – replacing cookies with hashed (read anonymised) email addresses. This method allows a new identifier, the hashed email address, to directly replace the functionality of cookies – although it does require a user to login in order to match their activity to their hashed address.

At Publisher Collective, we’re working on multiple solutions to ensure we can better leverage data in all environments, including working with a first-party audience platform, Permutive. Permutive uses edge-computing, which is a fancy way of saying it uses your own device to process data, meaning the data Publisher Collective uses to personalise ads (we never use personally identifiable data, only data based on the type of content you consume) doesn’t leave your device and the cookie it uses, therefore, is a first-party cookie. This reopens environments such as Safari and Firefox to data targeting in a privacy-focused, safe manner.

Alongside this, we’re also working on ways to supplement our off-device data strategy, including authenticated traffic solutions, such as LiveRamp.

If you need help optimising your audience data-gathering, get in touch with Publisher Collective to find out how we can help your brand or product achieve incredible results.