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Cookieless Future: How to Prepare

Now that Google has begun turning off third-party cookies with plans to phase them out completely by the end of the year, the cookieless future is imminent. But, what exactly will the cookieless future look like? And, what can you do to prepare your website and brand for this paradigm shift in digital marketing?

To answer these questions, we’re diving into the details behind third-party cookies, and what their impending deprecation means for your business. To do this we’ll give you a strong working definition of the term “cookieless future”, a timeline showing what events led to this massive change, plus three actionable steps you should take to prepare for this new normal.

What is a Cookieless Future?

You’ve probably heard marketing thought leaders throw around the term “cookieless future” more and more as data privacy concerns have mounted over the past few years. But what does this buzzword really mean?

A cookieless future refers to the imminent reality where marketers can no longer leverage third-party cookies for user tracking, lead generation, ad retargeting, user behavior analysis, and more. 

It’s important to note that a “cookieless future” refers only to the deprecation of third-party cookies, not first-party cookies. Yes, that’s right, in the “cookieless future” brands will still be able to use first-party cookies, as they are considered strictly necessary for a website’s performance. They also play a major role in customer experience, remembering website visitors’ language preferences, what they’ve added to their carts, and more. 

Cookieless Future Timeline

Here’s a quick timeline of key events that have led to the cookieless future:

2018 - The General Data Protection Regulation (GDPR) of the European Union establishes fresh benchmarks for user consent and data privacy

2020 - The California Consumer Privacy Act (CCPA) grants California residents greater authority over their online data

2022 - Google unveils its intention to gradually eliminate third-party cookies from Chrome, as a component of its Privacy Sandbox initiative

2024 - Chrome begins turning off third-party cookies for 1% of users with plans to phase them out completely by the end of the year

How to Prepare for a Cookieless Future

Now that we’ve established what a cookieless future is and why marketers should pay attention to conversations surrounding this term, it’s time to dive into three actionable ways you can prepare your brand for the end of third-party cookies.

Audit Your Website Strategy

As a cookieless future looms closer, it’s important to take stock of how you and your team leverage third-party cookies today. To get started with this process, assemble a team of key website stakeholders and grab our Third-party Cookies Sunset Checklist. This one-sheet tool will keep you and your team organized as you prepare for Chrome’s full third-party cookie deprecation.

As you audit your website and broader marketing strategy, be realistic about what you and your team can accomplish before Chrome’s full third-party cookie sunset. Through the audit process, you may realize you don’t have the time or headcount to be proactive about the impending changes. Based on this information, create a prioritized action plan of what changes you need to make to your marketing strategy first, and which you can tackle later in the year.

Collect more Zero-party and First-party Data

Google’s sunset of third-party cookies will make all other forms of data much more valuable, especially when it comes to maintaining strong website personalization. Because of this, it’s time to double down on zero-party and first-party data collection strategies. Think about what parts of your website you can optimize to grab more of this lucrative data from your visitors. Do your website forms need a revamp? Should you add a chatbot to compel visitors to share information conversationally? There’s no one-size-fits-all solution to collecting zero-party and first-party data, so be sure to experiment with different parts of your website to see what drives the most impact. 

Once third-party cookies disappear, you’ll be relying primarily on zero-party and first-party data to personalize your website experience. Get a head start by experimenting with changes to your site now!

Invest in Cookieless Marketing Software

While you and your team are working to eliminate third-party cookies from your marketing program, the brands comprising your MarTech stack are doing the same. To avoid any service disruptions, think about investing in marketing software that does not and has not ever relied on third-party cookies.

Intellimize is a completely cookieless SaaS platform that uses AI to optimize for 1:1 personalized website experiences across the entire buyer’s journey. With our technology, you can feel confident that your website personalization strategy won’t crumble once third-party cookies are gone.

We hope these three tips help you feel more prepared for the imminent cookieless future.

Start delivering 1:1 personalized website experiences today