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Cookie deprecation is delayed but don't wait to find new data sources

Google earlier this year announced the demise of cookies in its Chrome browser, initially scheduled for 2022, would be postponed – again – until early 2025. This delay was a direct response to feedback from both regulators and the industry, highlighting the complexities and challenges associated with such a significant shift in digital advertising.

Ella Rice is a Client Manager at Threefold.

Regulatory bodies played a crucial role in this delay, asking for more time to review industry tests and evidence and sharing concerns about Google's Privacy Sandbox solutions, which are meant to replace cookies. Marketers also stressed the need for more time to adapt and develop alternative strategies for personalizing customer experiences. Despite these challenges, some industry leaders viewed the delay as an opportunity for brands to gather intelligence and leverage other data points to enhance personalization efforts before cookies finally meet their end.


The end of third-party cookies, while challenging, presents several opportunities to improve the digital advertising landscape. Enhanced data quality and privacy are significant benefits; third-party cookies were never an ideal signal for accurate targeting and measurement. Cookie deprecation paves the way for improved data quality and privacy, aligning with growing global consumer concerns and regulatory requirements. Additionally, the shift encourages companies to prioritize first-party data collection and utilization.


First-party data, gathered directly from consumer interactions, offers more accurate and reliable insights, leading to better performance for brands in personalized marketing efforts and more relevant experiences for consumers. It’s the data that has driven the meteoric rise of Retail Media Networks and other commerce media propositions, as retailers and other businesses hold robust data that can be leveraged to effectively target consumers across their shopping journeys.


Leveraging technology to supercharge first-party data


What's more, leveraging technology like AI to model that first-party data can unlock greater potential in targeting and measurement methodologies. AI-driven models can offer deeper insights and more effective strategies than traditional cookie-based approaches. Additionally, the industry can develop more innovative and collaborative solutions, which will only become more necessary as retail media evolves. This shift will lead to the discovery of better measurement signals through media mix modeling and other advanced techniques. Improved privacy measures enhance consumer trust and data quality, aligning marketing strategies with privacy values to create a more sustainable and ethical advertising ecosystem.


Retailers are prioritizing their first-party data strategies, recognizing the critical importance of building a robust first-party data collection framework to expand their user base and enhance personalization efforts. Their Adtech partners are also moving forward with cookieless solutions. For instance, LiveRamp began transitioning to a completely cookieless open-web solution in May 2024, emphasizing authenticated identity as a superior alternative to third-party cookies for activation and measurement. The Trade Desk has likewise advanced its own identity solution, EUID, regardless of Google's timeline.


Kate Hopkinson, Media Director at Threefold and the broader SMG agency network, underscores the complexity of the current landscape.


“The coexistence of cookie-based and cookieless technologies complicates the adoption of new identity solutions, impacting scalability,’ Kate says. “While email-based identifiers benefit retailers with extensive email databases, many legacy systems still rely heavily on cookies, necessitating significant system overhauls.”

To navigate this transitional period successfully, businesses must focus on several strategic imperatives. A robust first-party data collection strategy is crucial for building a comprehensive user database, enabling more effective targeting and personalization. Utilizing AI and other advanced technologies can enhance data quality and performance, providing deeper insights and more effective marketing strategies. Embracing privacy and sustainability values ensures compliance with regulations, builds consumer trust, and enhances brand reputation. Collaborating with ad tech partners and exploring innovative solutions can help businesses identify the most effective cookieless strategies and maintain a competitive advantage.


While Google's delay in deprecating third-party cookies provides temporary relief, there’s no time to delay in finding solutions. The industry must continue to prioritize first-party data strategies, leverage advanced technologies and align with privacy values to thrive in a cookieless future. By proactively addressing these challenges, businesses can ensure they are well-prepared for the inevitable transition and continue to deliver personalized and effective marketing experiences.


Want to talk about how Threefold and retail media can help supplement signal loss from cookie deprecation, send Ella an email at ella.rice@threefold.team.


About Ella Rice

Ella Rice is a client manager in the Threefold North America team, where she supports CPGs in planning, building and measuring retailer campaigns. Prior to her role at Threefold, Ella spent three years on the Plan-Apps team within SMG, supporting CPGs with insights on campaign performance and building consultancies that leveraged Plan-Apps data. Ella previously worked as an account manager for a digital marketing agency. Want to chat about how Threefold can supercharge your retail media strategy? You can reach her at ella.rice@threefold.team.


About Threefold

Founded in 2008, Threefold is the world's leading Retail Media Network (RMN) specialist, headquartered in both New York and London. As part of the SMG agency network, which employs over 250 retail media experts, Threefold's primary mission is to unlock incremental CPG budgets, curate media campaigns that supercharge sales and elevate its retail partners into top-tier omnichannel media owners, spanning in-store, off-site and online.


Threefold's services include consultancy, evaluation, and a white-label in-house solution that has seen the agency build, run and operate over 10 Retail Media Networks to date. In the UK, Threefold runs and operates Walgreens' Boots Media Group and Morrisons Media Group, and additional live partners include major retailers like Asda, The Co-op and The Very Group.

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