The Third Party Cookiepocalypse Is Fast Approaching; This Time It May Be For Real

I’m a huge sports and pop culture fan. I say that because I very much believe in incorporating references to one or the other – or both – when I am trying to make a point when it comes to the world of marketing.  

Case in point, Brett Favre and Tom Brady. For those who don’t know them, they are two former NFL quarterbacks. Each achieved much success and notoriety, the latter winning seven – count ‘em seven – Super Bowls.  

Another thing they share – especially Favre – is their penchant for retiring then unretiring. Favre did this on three separate occasions. 

What does this all have to do with the Google third-party cookiepocalypse? One word: apathy. By the time Favre unretired then retired for the third time, no one paid attention. When the news broke, it was just another story. No one took it seriously.  

I think the same thing is happening here when it comes to the pending third-party deprecation.  

That Was Then

In 2020 Google announced it would phase out cookies on its Chrome browser by 2022. That initially sent everyone into a frenzy. “The third-party cookie sky is falling!” and other such cries were heard far and wide. But then Google announced it was delaying the end of Chrome’s cookies until 2023. And the loud burst of wind you may have felt then was the collective sigh of relief from marketers, knowing the end was put off… again.  

Third-party cookie deprecation was unretiring. “Yay, one more year of cookies!”  

Brilliant Marketoonist AKA Tom Fishburne, whose mantra is “bringing humor to business with cartoons,” created these images that represent the… well you’ll see for yourself.  

Now, how can you NOT love someone who uses humor to convey a message? But I digress. 

These images, and the messages they conveyed, were to illustrate the marketing world post third-party Google cookies. We know now that Google delayed the cookie-less world until 2023.  

This Is Now…

As the Marketoonist himself writes “In the last few weeks, Google took a few major steps in that direction, rolling out APIs for their Privacy Sandbox Developer tools as part of a replacement strategy. By early 2024, Google plans to turn off third-party cookies for 1% of users and then fully sunlight them in Q3 2024.” 

Cue the doomsday music!  

So now we know. Or at least we think we know when Google will turn off the third-party cookie lights. They can of course pull a Brett Favre and announce another unretirement… delaying this once more.  

But in the event this time it is for real, surely marketers are taking it seriously and doing everything they can to prepare for the inevitable, AKA the cookiepocalypse, right?  


Earlier this year came this very telling and foreboding finding from an Abobe study: 75% of marketers still rely heavily on third-party cookies. Moreover, over 75% of marketers also believe the loss of third-party cookies will hurt their bottom lines.  

The first stat: Why? As in why are so many marketers STILL relying heavily on third-party cookies? It’s almost as if they don’t believe it’s real; that Google will delay cookie deprecation again.  

The second stat: You’re damn right it’s going to hurt your bottom line… but it doesn’t have to.  

The Post Cookie-less World

For more than two decades, advertisers, media, and adtech companies have relied on third-party cookies to deliver targeted advertising. Now, the possibility of not being able to deliver targeted ads is downright frightening to marketers the world over.  

The good news is there are things that they can and should be doing right now.  

And it’s all about data… first-party data that is; the data a given brand owns or has on their customers.  

In a piece that is still highly relevant today, Mollie Spilman, Chief Revenue Officer for Oracle Advertising and CX, wrote in 2021: “Customer experience is paramount in today’s world, and first-party data is your cornerstone. Advertisers first step should be to establish a customer data platform (CDP) that provides a single, unified customer view across advertising, marketing, sales, and service.” 

I am a little biased having worked with Mollie at Oracle but she is 1000% right. Without the right CDP, nothing else matters.  

Ok, let’s assume you have the right CDP to match your needs. What’s next? 

Now you need to think of ways to engage and get more customers or prospects to share their data with you, thus becoming your first-party data, thus allowing you to generate targeted ads.  

Here’s a few of those ways: 

  • Loyalty Programs. Hardly a new concept, many brands have over the years launched their own loyalty programs. For example, in 2021 McDonald’s announced the creation of the MyMcDonald’s program where users earn points to redeem for food discounts or free items.  Note the year the Golden Arches launched this program, 2021. Now why do you think a brand that’s been around for seemingly forever would decide to suddenly create a loyalty program? 
  • Offer Some Swag. How many times a day do we see a post offering someone a chance to win branded apparel or any other number of items with the name of (insert brand here) on it? The answer is all the time. And why? Because to enter to win said swag you must provide some first-party data.  

As for more ways to gather first-party data, there are some great articles on this very topic including here and here 

And then… well once you have all that great first-party data it’s time to send out those highly targeted ads, almost. Before you do, you will want to make sure the creative you plan to use will deliver both short-term AND long-term success.  

Fortunately for you we have the world’s most predictive ad testing platform.