By now, you may have heard that Chrome has announced a new timeline to phase out third-party cookies. While the end of third-party cookies was first slated for 2022, it’s now been pushed to the latter half of 2023.
But this extension doesn’t mean you should slow or stop your plans to move from a third-party to first-party data environment.
“Even with Google delaying their timeline ... getting ready for a cookie-less world right now is crucial,” says Pete Whitmarsh, who runs a digital marketing agency. “Now more than ever, it is essential that businesses adapt how they track and measure data to adhere to regulations and respect user privacy, while also collecting as much reliable data as possible.”
Unfortunately, third-party data isn’t a reliable data source.
So rather than putting off your company’s move to first-party data, this is the perfect time to prepare for the loss of third-party cookies.
Chrome is only delaying the inevitable
The future of data collection and user targeting is filled with unknowns. However, we can be sure of one fact: No matter what the future of media looks like, it will prioritise user privacy.
Third-party cookies — which follow Internet users online and collect data about their interests and behaviour — do not offer users privacy, control, or transparency over their data right now.
With data privacy being under scrutiny from lawmakers and consumers, it’s only a matter of time until third-party data is completely scrubbed from the Web.
“(Due to) the eventual phasing out of cookies, the ability to target audiences and measure performance effectively will diminish,” Whitmarsh says.
Recent data even reveals that 80% of media companies are concerned about losing revenue from partners once third-party cookies disappear. “Instead of seeking out temporary workarounds and solutions, (companies) need to be preserving what data they do have so they can continue to join up pieces of the customer journey,” Whitmarsh said.
Luckily, first-party data gives media companies a full picture of visitor identities, preferences, and behaviours in a consensual and private way. This data is collected directly on a company’s digital properties once users give their consent.
So, whether third-party data disappears in one, five, or 10 years down the road, first-party data is the inevitable next step forward for media companies. And nothing is holding your organisation back from developing new data strategies now.
First-party data can strengthen your company’s relationships
Although the collapse of third-party cookies requires media companies to make significant changes to their businesses, there is a silver lining to this challenge. Developing a first-party data ecosystem can help any media company win over advertisers and audience members.
Google has already confirmed that the future of advertising will be based on using first-party data to target groups of users with similar interests. So, why not show potential advertising partners that your company can support profitable targeted campaigns with your first-party data?
Sargi Mann, the executive vice president of Havas Media, explains that “(the) deprecation of third-party cookies is an advantage and a second chance for the publishing industry to establish themselves as a meaningful partner for brands.”
Plus, media companies can also increase trust levels from their users by collecting consented first-party data to personalise their on-site experiences. And since 90% of Gen Z will pay for exceptional, convenient content experiences, you can use first-party data to encourage audience members to subscribe in a completely respectful and compliant way.
Create a first-party data ecosystem to keep up with competitors
If you want your media company to win over consumer and advertising dollars, your business needs to remain competitive.
Many organisations, like Future plc, have already gotten ahead of the game by adopting advanced first-party data strategies. Meanwhile, companies that wait too long to catch up could get left in the dust by competitors.
“These conservative, ‘wait and see’ measures may be good for Google’s long tail of smaller and mid-sized brands that have less investment and maturity in future-proofing their identities, targeting, and custom audience solutions,” according to a senior representative from a media agency network in this Digiday article. “(The) largest brands are now ready and want to further assert market dominance.”
The reality is that it shouldn’t matter when Google plans to cut out third-party cookies — the sooner your company can successfully function without them, the better.