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Loss of third-party cookies inspires marketing innovation

Cookie-based ad targeting is going away, leaving brand marketers at a critical juncture. If companies can no longer rely on third-party data to inform their marketing and advertising, they will be forced to evolve their business models and find new means of value creation.

Thunderhead, a London-based customer engagement technology company, takes an in-depth look at the implications of a cookie-less world in its recent eBook, “The Fall of Cookies & the Rise of First-Party Data". How will digital marketing change? And what can marketers do to get ahead of challenges before they arise?

Find the positives in the death of cookies

Over the years, the public has come to trust institutions less and less when it comes to privacy online. Consumers are more aware of the value of personal data, and they know that there have been major leaks, hacks, and other global events that have compromised their information.

That erosion of trust, Thunderhead explains, led to the downfall of the tracking cookie. People don’t want to feel like they’re being spied on online in exchange for targeted ads.  

Google will block third-party cookies from its Chrome browser by late 2023 due to this mounting pressure from the public and regulators to protect consumer privacy. That puts things like third-party cookies, device fingerprinting, app tracking, and email pixels all on the chopping block.

This drastic change has been difficult for businesses and their marketers to manage, but it’s ultimately a positive opportunity. The “rise of the consumer” does not need to result in the demise of the digital marketer. In the absence of such tracking methods, brands will be forced to establish better and more direct relationships with people, not devices.

Review your data alternatives

With the downfall of cookie-based ad targeting upon us, companies need an efficient and reliable replacement. Tailored ads will still exist online, but they will have to come from strong resources like first-party data that is shared by consumers consensually. 

Google originally proposed the Federated Learning of Cohorts (FLoC) as an alternative to tracking cookies. Described as “interest-based advertising”, FLoC would run locally and analyze an individual’s browsing behavior, associating it with a cohort of “like-minded people" with similar interests.      

However, Google dropped the project in January 2022 in favor of a new system that learns your interests based on your web activity, Topics API. 

“Traditional, cookie-based digital targeting could be fantastic for short-term ROI, and many brands made hay while the sun shone. While this did produce instantaneous sales at scale, the approach struggled  to develop long-term relationships”, Thunderhead said.

That’s where first party data comes in. Advertisers have had to rethink their approaches to collecting useful and comprehensive data that consumers will give up voluntarily, and that is compliant with the General Data Protection Regulation (GDPR) that went into effect in Europe in 2018. 

Not all data is created equal

Thunderhead recommends that companies and marketers should focus on building “meaningful customer relationships that are powered by in-the-moment experiences or conversations.” Conquering this goal will then ultimately help solve any first-party data questions and challenges.

Marketing in 2022 is a tricky landscape to navigate, but there are a few key best practices to keep in mind. Always get consent from customers when it comes to data collection, and be upfront about how you’ll use their data. Leverage first-party data and collect what will support better relationships between you and the consumer.

Smartcore can help you kickstart your journey to better data usage. We specialize in digital marketing for suppliers of ingredients, and we help them reach their goals through brand awareness, lead generation, thought leadership, and targeted marketing campaigns. 

We provide a variety of services, like hosting your email campaigns and bolstering them with our high-quality, granular first-party data collected from our events. Contact us today to learn more about what challenges we can solve for your brand. And don’t forget to download Thunderhead’s full eBook on the importance of first-party data.



Beth Newhart

03 August 2022