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The End of Third Party Cookies and How You Can Prepare

Altaf Shaikh | October 18, 2021 

You’ve heard the buzz: third-party cookies are being pulled off the data-tracking menu. But what does that mean exactly, and how will that affect you and your marketing? We’ll dig into some of the nitty gritty details—and give you a few tips on how to plan and prepare. 

Remind me. . . what’s a third-party cookie again?

Third-party cookies track activity and data across multiple websites. That data is owned by a third-party, like ad networks or social media sites. (Oh hey, Google and Facebook! 👋) Companies use these cookies to create more targeted and relevant advertising for potential customers as they move around the web. 

So, what’s all the fuss about? 

Third-party cookies are great for businesses and advertisers—and one might even argue that it helps connect consumers with businesses offering what they want or need. But third-party cookies have also prompted privacy concerns, and people are becoming more selective about the data they share, how it’s tracked, who owns it, and how it’s used. 

As a result, third-party cookies have come under a lot of scrutiny. Safari and Firefox have already blocked third-party cookies from their web browser, and Google announced they will be doing the same in Chrome by 2023

What does this change mean? 

Companies who have relied heavily on third-party cookies in their marketing and sales strategy might find themselves scrambling as they try to plan ahead for the phase-out. 

Without third-party cookies, many companies will lose the ability to gather and store data they use for a lot of their sales and marketing activities. For instance, they won’t have some of the behavioral or browsing data they’ve become accustomed to using for:

  • Creating targeted, personalized cross-web advertising.
  • Leveraging browsing or behavioral data attributes for A/B testing on their sites, in their apps, or in their marketing.
  • Building out robust customer profiles to inform sales calls.
  • Analyzing the performance of different marketing or sales campaigns, based on user activity or browsing data. 

What can I do to prepare? (Hint: Start building out a first-party data strategy now!)

Don’t panic! The end of third-party cookies may mean making adjustments to your marketing and sales strategy, but you have time to prepare and plan. The impact of no longer leveraging third-party cookies will be different, depending on which Salesforce features you use. All DMP platforms, including Salesforce Audience Studio and Data Studio, will be sunsetting because of these third-party cookie changes. Customers using these platforms will need to double-down on building out a first-party data strategy. 

  1. Begin by proactively assessing your overall dependence on third-party cookies. Ask yourself: What kind of data are you currently collecting, and how are you using it? Which of your marketing or sales activities would be limited or impossible if third-party cookies were to disappear tomorrow? 
  1. Next, start building out your first-party data tracking and storing capabilities now, so you can begin transitioning away from your reliance on third-party data. Unlike third-party data, which is collected and owned by someone else, first-party data is the information that you collect directly from your customers or prospects.

    You probably could gather critical first-party data about your customers and prospects without a tremendous additional marketing effort. For example, gated content (white papers, webinars, annual reports, etc.), rewards programs, and point-of-purchase forms can all be used to collect valuable contact, demographic, and interest-based information that you can use to segment and target your audience.

    Looking for more ways to  identify and gather first-party data? Our partners at Jebbit offer a solution that enables marketers to quickly build, deploy, and report on multi-page, interactive web experiences that collect valuable first party data directly from customers and prospects.
  1. Finally, plan for how you’ll store and maintain your first-party data. We recommend Salesforce Customer Data Platform (CDP), which is designed to facilitate hyper-personalized real-time marketing experiences by serving as a single source of truth for marketing. CDP allows marketers to combine multiple, disparate data sources and tie contacts together into “golden records” using robust business rules. As such, CDP is a great place to get started on having clean, accurate, and marketer-friendly first-party data. If you need a hand with the heavy-lifting, ListEngage is here to provide the support you need as you implement CDP for the first time, or migrate from an existing platform. 

As Salesforce users living in a cookie-restricted world, you already have a leg-up! Once you have all that first-party data, you can gather it together in Salesforce to create unified customer profiles that are accessible and actionable across all of your marketing initiatives. This means first-party data collected across your company’s sales, marketing, and support teams can be combined into a single, shared view you can use to provide a better, more targeted and tailored experience for your customers and prospects—better than any collection 3rd party data could provide. 

At ListEngage, we’re the experts in harnessing the power of first-party and third-party data. Planning for the end of third-party cookies might be a big-undertaking, but it needn’t be overwhelming. Reach out to us and one of our experts will respond to discuss your specific goals and needs. As Salesforce partners, we’ll work alongside you to navigate the transition and unlock new opportunities for your sales, marketing, and customer service.

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Altaf Shaikh | Founder, CEO

Altaf Shaikh is the Founder and CEO of ListEngage. When people were still using dial up and the words ‘marketing’ and ‘automation’ were seldomly used together, Altaf became obsessed with finding and creating automated marketing solutions. Altaf’s background in Computer Science and Engineering made him re-think how he could use new and emerging digital technologies to engage people in unique and relevant ways with the right mix of brand, data and analytics. That passion led Altaf to become a marketing automation expert. Altaf started ListEngage in 2003 to help companies transform their digital marketing programs. Under Altaf’s leadership, ListEngage has grown to become a top-rated partner in the Salesforce ecosystem, has served 3000+ customers and earned multiple awards, such as: ExactTarget Global Services Award, the Inc. 5000 award three consecutive years, the Boston Business Journal's FAST 50 two years in a row and the Top 20 Salesforce Provider award by CIO magazine. Altaf and the ListEngage team love bringing their years of hard work, expertise, certification and acquired “superpowers” to help customers maximize their investment in Salesforce. Contact Altaf at services@listengage.com.