digital marketing

Exciting times are dawning for digital marketing. After years of data collection madness, online marketers now have to ask themselves: How do I reach my customers without third-party cookies? These tips will help you to master the upcoming challenges.

83 percent of advertisers rely on third-party cookies. Their goal: to target consumers with advertising across platforms. Almost every website collects data that depicts behavior and private information about customers. Under growing pressure from regulators and consumers demanding more privacy, Google has announced the end of support for third-party cookies in its Chrome browser. Over the next year, companies that spent years basing their digital marketing on cookie information will need to transform their advertising practices. How does such a change in digital marketing succeed? Can advertising be successful without third-party cookies?

Away from third-party cookies toward contextual marketing (both offline and digital )

The world’s largest digital marketplace was created through the commercialization of the Internet. In order to attract the attention of consumers between cat pictures and fake news, advertisers have so far increasingly relied on behavior-based targeting. This marketing strategy uses third-party cookies to track user behavior and then target cross-platform advertising. In terms of data protection, this represents a massive violation of your own privacy.

The European General Data Protection Regulation ( GDPR ) and the California Consumer Privacy Act (CCPA) were therefore created to protect the rights of users . As the new standard for protecting privacy online, these regulations now state that behavior-based targeting is not legally compliant. Under increasing political and public pressure, Google reacted: In 2023, the world’s largest internet company will start blocking third-party cookies in its market-leading Chrome browser. As a pioneer of the Internet, Google is setting a new standard for the digital market economy and is forcing other companies to transform their marketing strategies. A massive rethink is required.

One solution to getting out of the business of third-party cookies could be contextual targeting. So-called context marketing is not a new invention. On the contrary, this marketing method was the predecessor of behavioral tracking. By using keywords in texts and images, interest profiles are generated and appropriate advertising is displayed based on this information. New technical innovations, such as artificial intelligence, enable an optimized determination of keyword clusters and the right context. The advertising is thus based on the intentions of the user to visit a website – without recording behavior-based data. When it comes to privacy, contextual marketing is a clear win.

Why contextual marketing works

But also economically the advantages of this marketing strategy are no longer a secret. According to a study by Global Industry Analysts, the global market for contextual advertising is expected to grow to $335.1 billion by 2026. Additionally, a global study by Double Verify shows that 69 percent of consumers are more willing to engage with contextual advertising that is related to the content they are viewing.

To master the transformation to contextual marketing, companies must focus on making marketing activities more relevant and non-invasive. In this way, users continue to receive relevant advertising while maintaining their privacy. The value of contextual ads is underscored by studies from BUSINESS WIRE and IPG Media Lab, which show that contextual ads and content are even far more engaging for consumers at the specific search moment. This interesting study result shows that companies need to adjust their content strategies. For effective marketing after the end of the third-party cookie area, consensus and content are the recipe for success!

A profitable alternative without third-party cookies

The search engine Startpage shows an example of the successful implementation of context-based advertising. Privacy compliant yet profitable, Startpage generates revenue through ads based solely on users’ search terms. Thus, Startpage debunks the myth that a search engine needs personal information in order to be profitable or to collect quality search results. The irresponsible handling of personal data from consumers is a matter of public debate. Companies that do not manage to handle personal data responsibly play with the trust of their customers and will sooner or later experience losses. Because alternatives to the business with third-party cookies are increasing and advertising achieves its goal without behavior-based tracking.

A new technical approach: Publisher Provided Identifiers

Google announced a new technical approach for publishers to share their own first-party data and use it with their services. With the use of so-called PPIDs (Publisher Provided Identifiers), data can be shared with Google’s ‘Programmatic Demand’ in order to optimize advertisements and targeting. Google explains this approach as follows: “The PPID allows publishers to send an ID to Google Ad Manager, which is used for frequency capping, audience segmentation and targeting, sequential ad rotation and other functions for audience-based ad delivery to any device is used.”

onclusion: There is life after third-party cookies

Use the time for a critical examination of the company’s data strategy. Publishers are advised not to rely too much on the solutions of other providers. Instead, it is recommended that they also ensure data protection compliance with all future marketing activities.

Takeaways for your digital marketing:

In 2022, every company will have to think about the transformation of digital marketing. The link between data security and the customer experience is in the foreground for advertising success.

In order to master the change, it is advisable to consider the following four points:

  • 1. Use context-based and content-focused advertising strategies and first-party cookies
  • 2. Plan for higher ad spend in 2023 to stay ahead of the transformation
  • 3. Respect the privacy of your users – in the end, the trust you gain pays off
  • 4. Deal with the topic of PPIDs early on

*Robert EG Beens is the CEO and co-founder of Startpage.


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