Announced by Google and feared since 2020, the news is finally confirmed. In 2024, it will be the end of third-party cookies! In the world of digital marketing, the cookie metaphor is easy: it’s a bit like removing candy and pastries from the table at a birthday party.
The average website user doesn’t fully understand what it’s about, but these small files used to create audience profiles, personalize displays and measure the effectiveness of advertising campaigns were an essential pillar of online advertising. Without these cookies, ad targeting becomes (almost) a guessing game.
Without cookies, there are many challenges
The disappearance of third-party cookies presents several challenges already widely identified by digital marketing professionals. Not only does targeting become less precise, which can reduce the effectiveness of advertising campaigns (therefore ROI), and complicate their optimization.
On the user side, as third-party cookies are used to personalize the display of content and advertisements, advertisers’ proposals risk being more random and sometimes absurd, which can also disrupt the user experience.
Furthermore, even if alternative methods exist, this type of paradigm shift causes deep uncertainty about the future; it is still difficult to predict how many alternative solutions will emerge and how they will work in the long term. Recent technological developments such as generative AI or the metaverse raise questions about the future of creative or analytical professions. The end of third-party cookies adds additional instability to an already complex and changing context.
From innovation will come the solution
Faced with the disappearance of third-party cookies, certain solutions exist and others need to be built. First of all, third-party cookies disappear but first-party cookies remain!
In addition, although contextual advertising is not new, it is still relevant today: based on the content of the page currently being viewed, advertisements can be displayed based on the subject discussed, which can be effective in targeting users according to their interests at that specific moment. Of course, such an approach is ideally coupled with a strategy for creating quality content… the old-fashioned way! Don’t they say that the best soups are made in old pots?
But above all, as with every sudden change: it is an incredible opportunity to innovate! There are alternatives to third-party cookies, such as anonymized unique identifiers, cohort-based targeting solutions (like Google’s FLoC), shared identifiers or even certain advertising platforms that favor data aggregation. Not forgetting first-party data collection strategies, to encourage users to provide relevant information (and with their consent).
The challenges for advertisers (and avenues to explore
A positive attitude would be to see the glass half full: the shortage of behavioral data will make targeting more complex but will promote the protection of privacy and facilitate GDPR compliance while stimulating innovation and creativity. In addition to contextual advertising, content marketing and SEO which are already well known, other alternatives are promising even if they remain to be built and tested.
For example, artificial intelligence and machine learning devices make it possible to target consumers by developing predictive marketing tools that use purchasing and browsing data to predict (and encourage) future purchases. The generalization of chatbots makes it possible to interact with visitors in a more natural and personalized way but also to detect unmet needs or optimizations to be implemented. Furthermore, the emergence of unique identifier solutions is also interesting and several Web players such as Webedia and Unify have already integrated this type of tool in anticipation of large-scale deployment. Whether it’s First-ID, ID5, Ramp ID, Shared ID, UID or Criteo ID, you have the choice of weapons!
Beyond the new tools, let’s not forget retail data: it is both a robust and ethical alternative to the disappearance of third-party cookies since the data comes directly from consumers and is limited in its collection and use. by the consent of the latter. All major brands, from Fnac to Carrefour to Vivendi, have already adapted their offering and their strategy to make the best use of this new source of data.
Finally, let’s not forget a significant advantage for advertisers in general: the need for explicit consent from the user to use their data will alleviate non-consented advertising pressure. This call for air will make it possible to personalize both offers and media, by integrating displays more naturally, which will garner a more favorable perception of brands and their products.
And we will have to do with Google…
Remember: January 2023 saw a lot of people laughing at the end of Google’s supremacy, when CEO Sundar Pichai announced a plan to lay off 12,000 employees (or 6% of its global workforce) . The two main culprits: an unfavorable macroeconomic context and the slowdown in digital advertising. But before you cry out in front of such a rout, look at what’s coming.
The end of third-party cookies in Chrome does not mean that users’ privacy will remain safe and sound. Of course, cookies will no longer track users, but Chrome will take care of it directly! And Google will thus be able to offer a new service to businesses: acquiring very detailed summaries of users’ browsing behavior, which will make it possible to deduce their topics of interest based on their browsing history and their favorite themes… and to offer suggestions. advertisements accordingly.
Google has therefore found an effective way to generate new advertising revenue, by reshuffling the cards and changing the rules of the game. This is therefore not the end of the beans for digital marketing, but this new context will reposition the function strategy of media agencies, which will have to play an increased advisory role with advertisers in order to support them in their investments and their speaking engagements.
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