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Marta Peral Ribeiro

Marta Peral Ribeiro
– Communication Consultant –

And what marketeers can do about it

After Safari and Firefox ended third-party cookies, it’s Google’s turn.

By 2023, the largest search engine will put an end to third-party cookies.  What does this mean for digital marketing? How can marketers adapt their strategy?

Marta Peral Ribeiro

Marta Peral Ribeiro
– Communication Consultant –

And what marketeers can do about it

After Safari and Firefox ended third-party cookies, it’s Google’s turn.

By 2023, the largest search engine will put an end to third-party cookies.  What does this mean for digital marketing? How can marketers adapt their strategy?

The context

The internet is an open space where our personal data circulates constantly. And, precisely for the sake of security, consumers increasingly demand privacy in relation to their information.

To this end, the competent authorities   – and, consequently, the companies – are taking actions to limit their access to third parties.

And this is where the famous cookies, which record information on the user’s computer from a website they have visited (for example, their ID, the name of that site, the language preferences, and the products they searched for) allow that site to display personalized information to them later. But there are cookies and cookies.

cookieSource: Unsplash, @engin akyurt

3 types of digital cookies:

Cookies are essentially related to who owns and distributes them.

First-party cookies

It is the data that a website collects about the users who visit it and may (especially when users fill out a form) treat them to improve the user experience.

Second-party cookies

It is the data that two organizations collect and share (only) with each other.

Third-party cookies

A website collects visitor data, segments it and sells it to external companies with whom there is no direct link. That is, in addition to not knowing its proper origin, those who buy this data have access to the same information as all other companies that have also bought it.

In this article we are going to focus on third-party cookies as these are the ones that are at stake here. 

It is through them that advertisers collect information about users, from the pages they access, the products they search for and purchase, to personal data such as name, age, contacts, etc. By getting to know users, their interests and online habits, businesses can target ads, targeting them to an audience. This is the premise of most advertising platforms.

A practical example of third-party cookies:  When we search for a gadget on the Fnac or Amazon website, and subsequently we find an ad for that same gadget or a similar one on Facebook.

Google Chrome and the end of third-party cookies

Here are the main search engines currently used:

gráfico sobre os motores de pesquisa mais usados

Source: W3Counter

Both Safari (Apple) and Mozilla (Firefox) no longer allow third-party cookies. Now it’s (Google) Chrome’s turn, which has declared that it will put an end to third-party data by 2023.

Google Chrome being the world’s most widely used search engine and the world’s leading digital advertising distributor, it is to be expected that marketers are apprehensive about the new data privacy policies.

What does it mean in practice?

It’s simple: with the end of third-party cookies, many organizations will no longer have access to the precious information that allows them to deliver targeted advertising, which greatly reduces the conversion rate. Meaning, it is more unlikely to convert users into clients.

It is therefore imperative to redesign the marketing strategy.

Privacy Sandbox

Google has launched the “Privacy Sandbox” initiative, which will allow the targeting of users without compromising their privacy. In the first stage, companies will be able to redirect their ads and in the second stage, there will finally be the elimination of third-party cookies.
It is advisable that brands keep an eye on the whole process.

How can companies ensure the success of a marketing campaign?

There is no single answer. Each organization creates its solutions.

Facebook, for example, has set the Píxel, allowing it to save  third-party cookies as first-party   cookies. Thus, when triggered on a website, it is still possible to access the data.

Google itself recently launched the “Privacy Sandbox” initiative, which will allow the segmentation of users without compromising their privacy.

But there are more possibilities.

1. Focus on first-party cookies

A sensible possibility is for the companies to dedicate themselves to the cookies generated by them, treating them and segmenting them. Thus, not only can they guarantee data protection, but they can define or readjust the metrics themselves.

gráfico sobre estudo estatista
Source: Statista 2020

Redefine the target audience

The previous point inevitably leads us to this: the redefinition of the target audience. 40% of marketeers in the USA are betting mainly on this measure, according to a Statista study.

Explore different campaigns

A strategy to help understand who your persona is goes through, as the previous chart demonstrates, experimenting with distinct campaigns for distinct audiences, and seeing which one works best.

2. Key word: Customization

Even when it comes to first-party cookies, users are increasingly aware of the value of their data, expecting a return by giving it away. And there are several strategies:

Betting on content marketing

Through content marketing, the readers have access to content that is useful to them because they answer their questions and needs. For example, an e-book, a list, or a planner. Here brands can simultaneously combine email marketing, as the users register their email to receive the material.

Consumer-tailored offers

A forrester/Retail Me Not report  reveals the type of information that most users are willing to share for discounts and exclusive offers – although the interaction is not seen as invasive. At the top of the motivations are the products they like, their interests and hobbies:

gráfico Source: Retail me Not (2018)

3. Explore resources

Mobile marketing

The same report from 2018, indicates that the mobile version is preferred by 60% of consumers. I believe that by 2021 this percentage will be even higher:

Therefore, having a branded App not only strengthens the relationship with the consumer but also focuses on the offers based on consumer preferences in one place, which facilitates the business process.

gráfico sobre preferências dos users relativamente ao mobile mkt
Fonte: Retail Me Not (2018)​

Social networks 

As expected, social networks are one of brands great allies, as through them they can promote their products and services, increase interaction with followers and attract new users, and can consolidate their reputation.

Using chatbots

Through Artificial Intelligence it is possible to communicate in a more personalized way with users. Through chatbots, the involvement with the consumers is much more relevant and one can collect data provided voluntarily by the consumers themselves more easily.


The new security and privacy policies, demanded by consumers and leveraged by governments around the world, have led to the end of third-party cookies.

If, on the one hand, it may seem like a major concern to the marketing teams, it is, on the other hand, a great opportunity to renew advertising strategies.

For those companies who have invested effectively in primary data, there will also be a much greater focus on the consumer, which allows them to identify their true target audience and, consequently, deliver relevant ads to them. In addition, the relationship with audiences will also have a stronger, more reliable foundation, as users will know that their data isn’t circulating indiscriminately in the digital world.

After all, it’s not the end of the world. Just the end of third-party cookies.