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Digital Marketing

What a Cookieless future means for your business

Once we are in a cookieless world, it will be almost impossible to see view-through conversions, i.e., if someone who viewed one of your ads didn’t click it but came to your website sometime later and converted. 

Cookie 101

What is a cookie? (because we’re not all experts)

A cookie is a small text file saved on your device when you visit a website. It stores information about your preferences and other data.

When cookies come from someplace other than the website a user chose to visit, they’re called third-party cookies. 3P cookies also help advertisers follow consumers around the web – sometimes far longer and wider than those consumers realise. These are the “bad” cookies that have resulted in public concern.

GDPR and the California Act give users more visibility over cookies, including how these are being used etc. These legislations basically just give users more control over how their data is collected, stored and used to market to them. 

Cookies can do helpful things like preserve your login details for future visits, offer personalized discount codes (like in cart abandonment emails!) or surface recommended content. 

For example: “Articles you may be interested in…” and “Products you might like…” are all generated by cookies.

Want more cookie 101? Click here.


But why are cookies so important for marketing?

Cookies allow websites to store user data and behaviour information, which allows advertising services, such as Facebook, to target audience groups according to variables including:

Cookies do more than help marketers measure success –  tracking user behaviour enables us to optimise our strategies past the users’ first touch.

What does a Cookieless world mean?

Once we are in a cookieless world, it will be almost impossible to see view-through conversions, i.e., if someone who viewed one of your ads didn’t click it but came to your website sometime later and converted. 

This is often the case on social media platforms as there is a common misconception that purchasing through a browser on a social media app, is less secure than opening Google/Safari etc. and purchasing through that browser. 

(A lot of ad targeting options will probably disappear, too, though Google and others are trying to build replacements.)

Were cookies even that great anyway?

Currently, the majority of cookies are already rejected or blocked by browsers. 

In Q4 of 2017, an ad agency analyzed 20 advertisers and more than 5 billion impressions. Their results found that 64% of their tracking cookies were either blocked or deleted by web browsers. The rejection rate on mobile devices was higher — at 75%, compared with 41% on desktops.

Read the full article here.

Also, cookies are device-based, so they can’t help us when someone goes from desktop to mobile or switches computers or browsers, this can damage the customer journey.


How the cookie crumbled…

Google is removing third party cookies in 2023 – So, what happens now:

What do GDPR and CCPA say about third-party cookies?

GDPR and CCPA do not discuss the cookie regulation in detail. However, their definition for personal data (or personal information) that are subject to the law, includes cookie identifiers. Data collected by cookies are categorized as personal data if they can be used to identify the user. Both the laws have rules and regulations for elements that track users. Therefore, third-party cookies are subject to GDPR and CCPA.

As per GDPR, a website cannot store third-party cookies without the consent of its users. If the user denies consent, then the site must block it. In fact, it cannot load the cookie script before receiving consent.

The CCPA does not require websites to get consent for cookies. But, it must let users opt out of it, and it must make users aware of cookie tracking.

The cookie timeline

1994:

A 23-year-old computer programmer called Lou Montulli (who worked at the world’s then-leading web browser, Netscape) invented the HTTP cookie. 



1995:

DoubleClick (a leading ad tech firm at the time) is founded. The company figures out how they can exploit cookies to track users across the internet and come to dominate the ad targeting industry.

2008:

Google buys DoubleClick for $3.1 billion then expands its advertising business from search pages to programmatic ads on websites (display advertising).



2016:

The General Data Protection Regulation (GDPR) was passed in the EU, expanding requirements for websites to get users’ consent before tracking them with cookies.



Jan. 2020:

Google announces it will block all third-party cookies by default, writing, “Our intention is to do this within two years.”

June 2021:

Google revises that timeline to 2023.

So what's next for brands and marketers in a Cookieless future?

The Cake team have reached out to all of the advertising platforms, channels and partners we work with to get their take on a Cookieless World and how their programs will handle third-party cookies being phased out indefinitely.

We’ll be back soon with their responses and some brand marketing considerations for a Cookieless World as well as how Cake will be handling this.

Stay tuned!


Autumn Blakeman

Author

Autumn Blakeman

Senior eCommerce Account Executive