Third-Party Cookies, Be Gone! How Digital Marketers are Navigating the Changing Privacy Landscape

Digital marketing is a rapidly changing field, and with new data privacy restrictions and regulations cropping up left and right, marketers are on a mad dash to adapt. User privacy has always been a concern, but in the past year, the emphasis on protecting user data has been kicked into high gear. In this article, we’ll give you a high-level overview of the latest privacy restrictions, how they’re affecting marketing efforts, and how Pixel & Hammer’s team is keeping ahead of the curve.

Saying Goodbye to Third-Party Cookies

To get a handle on the changes to come and how they’ll impact users, let’s start by understanding the different types of website cookies. Cookies are bits of data from a website that are stored on your web browser. First-party cookies allow websites to collect and analyze information unique to each user, for instance, storing your login credentials for a seamless experience. Third-party cookies, on the other hand, allow advertisers to track user activity across websites and gather data for targeted ad campaigns based on browsing history, interests, preferences, and more.

As society becomes more digitally connected and advertising becomes more saturated, users have become more wary of their privacy and what advertisers can use to target them. As a result, platforms and websites are making changes. Google recently announced its plan to remove all third-party cookies by 2023, a move that will have a worldwide impact on how marketers target ads. Over the past year, Facebook has also removed what it deems “redundant and sensitive” targeting options, including political views, race, religion, health, causes, and sexual orientation. With interest targeting now more limited, Facebook is pushing marketers to rely on its own delivery system for broader targeting.

The “Age” of Restrictions

Google has never allowed age-based targeting of users under 18, but there has always been an “unknown” age option that could capture users under 18 without identifying them. On Facebook, targeting under-18 users is a bit more complex. As of Summer 2021, you can no longer target users under 18 if additional interests are applied.

The Power of Privacy

Phone manufacturers are also joining the data privacy charge. Apple, in particular, has taken a leading role, using its own ad campaigns to promote data privacy and security and gradually tightening restrictions on cookies and IDs used to track ad views and purchases on mobile phones. Although Apple surprised everyone by not rolling out its most aggressive data privacy measures with the launch of iOS 16, the company is expected to do so soon. Apple has already started piloting some new measures.

Private Relay, launched in 2021, is a program that iCloud subscribers can use to block their IP address while browsing with Safari, thus disrupting “fingerprinting,” the ability of advertisers to identify devices indirectly when more specific user data isn’t available. The App Tracking Transparency framework, also launched recently, hides the Identifier for Advertisers used to personalize ads and services unless the user opts-in. These trends make it increasingly difficult to get information on audiences without direct permission, putting the power in the user’s hands when it comes to data sharing.

The Golden Opportunities in a Changed Landscape

Despite the challenges posed by the changes in data privacy restrictions and regulations, there is still hope for effective digital marketing. Marketers must pivot their strategies towards tactics like building robust first-party data, using marketing automation tools, and exploring contextual targeting. Consumer data lists can be used to target users who act similarly to known audiences or existing customers, while contextual targeting appeals to users based on the type of content they are consuming, eliminating the need for some demographic targeting. Platforms like TikTok are still accommodating age-based targeting and provide options to reach younger consumers.

The Key to Success: Stay Ahead of the Game

The digital landscape is constantly evolving and it’s crucial for marketers to stay informed and innovative in their approach. Pixel & Hammer’s Digital Marketing team is working tirelessly to stay ahead of the curve, experimenting with different platforms and strategies, and finding the best ways to reach intended users in a changing landscape. Whether through first-party data, automation tools, or creative targeting, the key to success is staying ahead of the game and adapting to new challenges with a strategic, informed, and innovative approach.

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