The cookie jar is empty: What cookie deprecation means for ad targeting

Google are finally deprecating third-party cookies at the end of this year, prioritising data privacy. Third-party cookies have historically shaped ad targeting, collecting information on user habits and behaviour. So, what does Google’s prioritisation of data privacy mean for digital advertisers? We’ve looked at the implications of disappearing cookies, ad targeting and digital marketing’s most over-looked tool. 

What are cookies?

Cookies are small text files placed on a user’s browser. These small text files allow advertisers to reach hyper-relevant audiences based on personal data and behaviour. There are two main types of cookies:

  1. First-party cookies are created by websites visited by the user. This enables the site to recognise the user’s device and store information, including what product pages they visit and what items they add to cart, ultimately improving their browsing experience.
  2. Third-party cookies are placed on a user’s browser by external domains, allowing them to gather data about a user’s browsing habits, preferences and interests, and deliver a personalised advertising experience.

Is cookie deprecation an issue?

Third-party cookies gather huge amounts of user data without their consent or knowledge. This data is collated to create detailed profiles based on a user’s historical search data, payment transactions and more. Assumptions are later made about a user’s personality and life before being sold to digital advertising agencies.

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About the author

Simarin Tandon | Performance and Digital Marketing Manager

Simarin is the Performance and Digital Marketing Manager at brandnation. 

Having worked with brands across the Beauty &Wellness, FMCG, FinTech, and Home & Lifestyle sectors, Simarin focuses on driving acquisition and growth, whilst managing the performance team at brandnation.

A curious marketer, Simarin is always on the pulse when it comes to performance and digital updates across both paid and organic platforms.

With the deprecation of third-party cookies, this information will no longer be available to advertisers. So what does this mean for targeted advertising?

What does Google’s deprecation of cookies mean for targeted advertising?

Google’s deprecation of third-party cookies changes historical methods of targeting on ads. The loss of third-party cookies takes away our ability to target broader audiences. This is because we no longer have access to extensive user data on individual interests and online behaviour.

However, all hope’s not lost for targeted advertising, because Google isn’t getting rid of first-party cookies.

This means that we can still target users based on owned data. Owned data is collated by first-party cookies, and looks at a user’s behaviour on our website or app. As a result, we still have the ability to create a personalised advertising experience by looking at:

  1. How a user interacts with our website
  2. What pages they visit
  3. What items they add to cart
  4. Which products they view

Google’s decision to prioritise user privacy has not only put first-party data at the forefront of digital advertising – it’s also highlighted an age-old marketing tool that is often overlooked – your email marketing list.

Email marketing just got a whole lot more interesting

What if we told you that your email list holds untapped targeting potential and an opportunity to increase conversions? For a while, email marketing was overlooked; deemed as dead marketing channel. With the recent crackdown on data privacy, email marketing has become one of the most valuable tools to encourage conversion. A focus on subscriber list growth doesn’t only increase quantity of owned data – it can also increase your revenue.

How can you target email subscribers on ad platforms?

A lot of email marketing platforms now support integration with ad platforms such as META, Google and LinkedIn. If an integration doesn’t exist, exporting your subscriber list and uploading it to your active ad platforms will allow you to creation lookalike audiences,. This expands your targeting in line with available third-party data.

By serving ads to your email list, you are placing your brand front of mind throughout their purchase-consideration journey. Integrating your email list with ad platforms can therefore help in converting customers that have shown intent to take a revenue-generating action.

The Key Takeaway

  1. The deprecation of third-party cookies shouldn’t be anything to panic about.
  2. If you are currently advertising on paid platforms, now might be a good time for a strategy pivot
  3. Owned data is the future of paid advertising
  4. Don’t underestimate your email subscriber list
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