Don’t Fear the (Third Party Cookie) Reaper

By: Louis Rebecchi

A big anxious buzz has been wafting through the digital marketing air for months- “The Death of the Third Party Cookie”. That is, more specifically, the decision by Google to remove third party tracking data from their Chrome platform, as Apple and Mozilla have already done on Safari and Firefox. Digital marketers rely on these third party cookies to track and measure the effectiveness of their campaigns, and without them many marketers are afraid of being left in the dark.

There are those however that look to the shift with much more optimism. Afterall, third party cookies were never an ideal tracking method- often delivering inflated and incomplete data about campaigns, which could lead to client distrust. Cookies placed on a variety of touches often all claim responsibility or contribution toward a single conversion, resulting in contradictory data and a falsely amplified snapshot of a campaign’s performance. These factors often work as much against digital marketers as they do for them.

Taking the opportunity to rethink the third-party cookie paradigm may lead to cleaner data that more accurately measures a campaign’s effectiveness.

One such solution may be FIRST party cookies, as some have suggested. First party cookies places tracking data on the destination as opposed to the vehicle, i.e., they are placed on your browser when you interact with a website, as opposed to the ads pointing to it. Google Analytics, the leading web analytics service, already runs this way. Through this manner inbound traffic is more accurately defined, even if that inbound traffic does not convert. It allows marketers to track site traffic and touches that lead to conversion through a single platform as opposed to a multitude of advertising platforms all trying to claim credit. It also allows credit to be given to organic search and email campaigns that third-party cookies would not be able to track.

What this translates to for digital marketers is the ability to be more accurate in reporting, providing clients with a cleaner, more comprehensive look at data. That translates to value. Digital marketers need not fear the death of the third-party cookie… they need to embrace it! The adjustment may cause some anxiety, but greater opportunity may lay just beyond!

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