The Death of Browser Cookies


If 2020 brought change to every major industry and way of life, then 2021 is on course to see more of the same, but what you might not know is that one of the largest changes is set for 2022 – the death of browser cookies.

I’m sure you can hardly remember the last time you surfed a new web page and weren’t immediately asked to accept the use of cookies that track your activity. Google is planning to phase this practice out, and what Google does, the trends tend to follow.

The way we normally think of browser cookies are based on third-party data, where companies track your activity across sites other than their own, such as for advertising retargeting. In recent years, the use of third-party data has come under more scrutiny, seen in the California Consumer Privacy Act (CCPA) and General Data Protection Regulation (GDPR), both of which aim to ensure privacy rights and change the way personal data is collected from consumers.

There are also first-party cookies, which allow a website that you frequent regularly to ‘remember’ you so that you don’t have to enter the same login credentials every visit. This is first party because you have explicitly given your permission for this site to remember you – you’re a user, you’re a shopper, you said yes. Whereas, even if you said yes to cookies, you aren’t necessarily giving specific third-party retailers permission to follow you around the web. 

In fact, Apple, Firefox, and Google have all already started limiting the use of third-party cookies on their web browsers.

As Reuters states:

“For years, online ad technology companies including Google could tell a shoe retailer to personalize an ad to someone reading a article after having tracked that person the week before researching a shoe on and checking for a specific color on Under these new policies, that tracking across multiple websites is unfeasible.”

That doesn’t mean retargeting itself will become unfeasible, just done in a different and more private manner, such as targeting ads to consumers who have similar interests, like Facebook Lookalike audiences.

Reuters continues:

“Brands could target their ads to a cluster interested in buying a car, for example, rather than relying on cookies that have tracked specific users across car-buying websites.”

Another option is Unified ID 2.0.

“When a consumer logs into a website with their email address, an identifier is created based on [an] anonymized version of that email. The identifier regularly regenerates itself, ensuring security. At the point of login, the consumer gets to see why the industry wants to create this identifier and understand the value exchange of relevant advertising, in simple terms (unlike today’s cookies). They also get to set their preferences on how their data is shared. So the consumer is in the driver’s seat.”

Even though UID 2.0 won’t be integrated with Google’s ad stack, there’s nothing stopping publishers from using both, and other options are still being investigated ahead of the shift. Still, it’s no exaggeration to say that the death of browser cookies will change the face of online advertising – or rather, the data behind it.

So, how can dealers capitalize on this change? Simple – provide what consumers expect. When you communicate regularly based on a consumer’s intrinsic needs and interests, they’re more likely to engage with you and share additional information – their first-party data. This further builds their consumer profile so that your marketing efforts are more personalized, more in line with what they want, and more successful at converting them and keeping them as customers.

Or, as eMarketer said:

“…the death of the third-party cookie will mean that winning brands must reduce their dependence on third parties and place a greater focus on first-party data and owned channels. In short, they’ll need more direct-to-consumer (D2C) marketing, and less (though still plenty) advertising.”

Outsell published an article on DrivingSales last year on the importance of first-party data (and the even more valuable zero-party data, when consumers proactively share information with you). Your CRM, DMS, and data you’ve collected from website visitors, social media followers, email subscribers, etc., is your most important untapped resource.

First-party data gives you a competitive advantage because it’s yours – you maintain exclusive ownership of it. It’s also more relevant than third-party data because it’s more accurate. The more you know about your current customers and prospects, the better you can market and interact with them to earn and retain their business.

Before browser cookies are officially declared dead in 2022, now is the time to test with Google, UID 2.0, and maximize what you can do with your first-party data.

Learn how Outsell uses first-party data to engage consumers, detects shoppers, and drive increased sales & service revenue, personally, continuously, and automatically.

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