You don’t have to be an expert in advertising or data to have heard about cookies. You have definitely come across cookies endless times before while browsing. And if you don’t have in-depth knowledge on that matter, chances are you just press ‘accept all’ to continue your browsing peacefully. But what cookies are and what they do, this is what we are digging deep into in this article. News has come out that a cookieless future is ahead of us and happening soon. Google has announced that by the end of 2023 it will officially phase out third-party cookies in chrome. So, let’s learn more about the topic

Simply, cookies are text files with small pieces of data that are used to identify your computer. These small text data can include your passwords, browsing history, and location. Additionally, cookies save websites images, images, and codes that help the website load faster. But worry not they are saved on your computer which can be deleted regularly, even some antiviruses offer to delete them on daily bases; thanks to GDPR & CCPA they are now forced to display what data their cookies will collect, and you need to accept but I don’t recommend doing so as they are designed to customize content based on your behaviour/interests which is explained on the video below

What are the types of cookies?

  • First-party cookies are directly created by the website an individual is using.  
  • Third-party cookies are more concerning because they are generated by websites that are different from the ones the web users are currently using and are typically linked to the ads that are on that particular page.
  • Zombie cookies are more threatening because they come from a third party and are permanently installed onto users’ computers even when users choose not to install cookies. Zombie cookies also can reappear after they are deleted. These cookies are typically used by web analytics companies to keep track of unique visitors’ browsing histories and ban specific users. 

But… websites can’t access any data that you didn’t provide, nor can they access other website cookies

What is cookieless tracking?

It is a way to capture some information about visits to your page without needing to store user-identifiable data for them – aka Anonymized Tracking – and with cookieless tracking, you will still be able to track traffic, page performance, product performance, referral link which has as limited information as cookies. Therefore, you must have a strong first-party data tool to help maintain the effectiveness of your marketing.

It’s noteworthy that first-party cookies won’t be disappearing anytime soon while third-party cookies are no longer supported by major web browsers which means

behavioural targeting and in-market targeting are harder than before.

How can you track with cookieless?

Either way, cookieless tracking is limited, especially when it comes to networks sharing user data to segment their traffic to help marketers target specific audience types and accordingly reach higher ROI with minimal wastage and ensure the ads are relevant.

Now, with Anonymized Tracking, we marketers will have to rely more on zero-party data, first-party data, and AI for authenticated targeting and anonymous targeting.


Authenticated Targeting

Authenticated targeting relies on first-party data and getting explicit consent from your customer/consumer to use his/her data. This can be done by agreeing on terms and conditions before creating an account on your website or log in to your website to use your service. Not to confuse things, this is still cookie targeting first and third-party tracking but the difference here is that they need explicit consent to track you.

Another approach is ID resolution which a CDP (Customer Data platform) can do. In this method, rather than providing a user with a single ID that can be used everywhere, they focus on matching all the different IDs a user has within their technology. Using this data, they can create what’s called an identity graph – a database of all the different data points about a single user that are tied together. Source –


Anonymous Targeting

In this approach, users are not identified at all, but with the help of AI, audiences can be segmented and targeted based on contextual and aggregated targeting.

Contextual targeting relies on non-personal data and is based on content within a network. Take for example people reading an article about a newly released metaverse platform; we can then identify them as young, trendy investors who are looking to invest in metaverse.

The issue here is that we can’t identify if the reader invested in other projects or how many articles they have read so far.

How to prepare for a cookieless tracking world?

Several articles answer this question, so, I’ll summarize them in simple points as the objective here is to build your first-party data to future-proof you from any upcoming changes.

  • Move towards a single-customer-view approach. Capitalize on your data, have deeper customer segmentation/understanding. CDP will help you a lot while cookies are still being used now as it will help you match third-party data with your first-party data.
  • Focus on strong retention and eWOM/referral strategies
  • Have a strongly segmented customer audience pool (even if you don’t have access to third-party cookies you will still be able to match your audience via unique identifier as lots of websites will either ask people to log in, or enter their email to consume their content which can trigger an advert every time through a trading desk).

Going cookieless might be one of the most significant changes the advertising world is about to witness. Since change is coming anyway, ask yourself this: ‘Are you prepared yet to step in this new game?’ So, do your homework, keep an eye on the topic, and let’s see what a ‘cookieless future’ will look like.