Death of the Third-Party Cookie

New legislation on third-party cookies and an increased public awareness for customer privacy may make life for AdTech users more complicated, but perhaps it’s for the best. This change should shift your CRM and marketing department’s focus toward building stronger customer relationships.

Stuart Russell, 

17 August 2021



It seems no end of digital ink has already been spent on the third-party cookie’s expiry date, but not enough consideration has been given to the bigger picture – especially when it comes to customer relationships.

There is no doubt that new legislation and an increased public awareness for customer privacy will make life for AdTech users more complicated. Still, let’s remember that this rudimentary tracking technique dates back to Netscape and should have probably disappeared with it. The fact that it was technically “legal” to use third-party cookies does not mean it was a good thing for the industry. Most of the use cases were frankly lazy – they were never about better understanding the customer but more akin to playing back ads like a surveillance camera stuck in a loop.

Security risks aside, this change is not just about privacy, but about trust. And trust between a brand and a consumer is not built by snooping on tracking history, it is built on engagement through relevant and contextual interactions. The folks at Google agree, stating, “Developing strong relationships with customers has always been critical for brands to build a successful business, and this becomes even more vital in a privacy-first world.” It is what CRM has always been about. Third-party cookies offered a seemingly cheaper and simpler alternative, distracting marketing departments from implementing more impactful data-driven marketing programs. To that end, the demise of the third-party cookie may be for the best, finally forcing businesses to focus more attention on clients already acquired rather than incessantly trying to refill that leaky funnel bucket.

And so the third-party cookie is dying and its crumbs leading the pack of uninterested prospective ‘customers’ to your location will soon go stale. We will not mourn this death because we strongly believe it will help the industry grow. It will force marketers to take the customer more seriously and to value first-party data and the CRM functions that can use it.

As third-party cookies have become obsolete, retention has become increasingly important, and that loyalty is integral to effective CRM and UX. This change is just a little kick to remind us that first-party data is now more important than ever. It might be time to redirect budgets accordingly.

Stuart Russell
Chief Customer Officer

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