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The marketing industry is at a major turning point. With Google phasing out third-party cookies and Apple rolling out major iOS updates to protect user privacy, marketers have been increasingly worried about what a ‘cookieless’ future holds.

But even though consumers of today are demanding more and more privacy when it comes to their data, they’re still looking for a personalised experience.

So, if your organisation heavily relies on third-party cookies to enhance your audience’s online journey, here’s what you’ll need to do when a future without third-party takes hold…


Embrace first-party data

When you visit a website, a little piece of JavaScript code tunes in and generates a first-party cookie for you. And quite often the website will prevent you from using key features unless you accept.

First-party cookies are created and stored on one single domain, which means that they don’t get shared with other websites or advertising partners. They’ll tell you things like what a user did on your website, how often they visit, and other essential metrics around their behaviour. But, crucially, you won’t be able to see information about that user’s activity on other websites not connected to yours.

One very useful tool you can continue to use to understand your audience is Google Analytics. Google Analytics only uses first party cookies to capture data about its web visitors, such as how they came to your website, where they’re based in the world, and what language they speak. The good news is that setting up Google Analytics is pretty straightforward and just consists of generating a tracking code that gets embedded on your website. And if you need a hand getting set up, just get in touch with us and we’ll be happy to help!


The comeback of contextual targeting

Contextual advertising has become somewhat overlooked in favour of third-party cookies in recent years. But as cookies become exhausted and GDPR tightens, we’re likely to see it make a comeback.

Contextual targeting works by placing ads in the most relevant context. For example, this could be placing an advert for a university in a higher education magazine or digital publication. So its benefits are simple – it’s privacy friendly and also proven to be effective!


Ask your audience

When it comes to tailoring your audience’s online experience, don’t underestimate the power of listening to user voices first-hand. Conducting audience workshops with the people who currently use your website is just about the most valuable thing you can do to glean helpful insight on what you can do to improve that experience.

This process will help you determine their needs, wants and motivations. It’s always good to go into these workshops armed with a list of carefully prepared questions to help you make the best use of your time. Or if meeting your audience in person isn’t an option for you, you can always create a survey using Typeform that they can fill out for you at a time that’s convenient for them.


Although losing third-party cookies will in some ways make it harder to identify individuals, contextual advertising and audience insight workshops will help to fill in the gaps and make sure that your content is both relevant and impactful.

The most important thing your organisation can do is keep up-to-date on any changes to cookies and privacy that may affect your marketing and advertising strategy. And if you’re looking for any support with this, get in touch and we’ll be more than happy to help.

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