Industry Insights

How the End of Third-Party Cookies Will Impact Veterinary Marketers4 min read

, Director of Audience Marketing & Data October 15, 2020 3 min read

How the End of Third-Party Cookies Will Impact Veterinary Marketers4 min read

Reading Time: 3 minutes

We’ve talked a lot on this blog about types of data and ways to collect them—like website cookies, and Facebook pixels. If you haven’t read up on data-collecting, now is a good time to start. In 2020, Google joined Safari and Firefox in phasing out third-party cookies, which have long been a favorite user tracking method for many advertisers. As concerns surge about digital privacy, users push for tighter restrictions. Hence, the coming end of third-party cookies. So, let’s take a look at what third-party cookies actually are and how their demise will impact you as an advertiser.

What Is a Third-Party Cookie?

A third-party cookie is a snippet of tracking code placed on a visitor’s browser after they visit a website other than your own. These cookies allow you to uncover insights about your audience’s behavior after they leave your website. Companies typically use this data to build  accurate, detailed user profiles for targeting.

Let’s look at an example of a third-party cookie in the wild. Say a user is on Amazon looking at a particular brand of dog food. Then, they jump to a different, non-Amazon–owned website, where they see an Amazon ad for the exact dog food they were just browsing. Third-party cookies typically trigger this type of personalization.

Why Are We Phasing Out Third-Party Cookies?

In a word? Privacy. Consumers want more data privacy online, and they’re demanding increasing control over how companies use their data. Browsers (eg, Google Chrome, Safari, Firefox) are the vehicle that allows the collection and use of cookies, so the onus is on them to make changes to the way data is collected and deployed.

What Types of Advertising Will be Impacted?

The important thing to know here is that Google isn’t blocking all cookies—just third-party cookies. If you’re mostly using cookies to track your website visitors’ behaviors, then you won’t feel much pain from the changes. Here’s a list of the types of advertising placements that these changes will impact:

  • Pop-up ads
  • Narrow audience-targeting strategy based on off-site activity
  • Off-site network banner ads

When Will Third-Party Cookies Be Gone?

Several browsers (eg, Safari, Firefox) have already started blocking third-party cookies by default. You might not realize it, but Safari and Firefox have been blocking third-party cookies since 2013. The big change is that Google is hopping on board… sort of.

Unlike Safari and Firefox, Google doesn’t plan to start blocking overnight. Google will phase out the use of third-party cookies over the next 2 years. By 2022, third-party cookies will be fully blocked. You might be wondering why Google’s decision to block third-party cookies is getting so much attention. There’s a good reason for that. According to Statista, in late 2019, Google Chrome accounted for more than 47% of the overall internet browser market share in the US and was responsible for more than half of all global web traffic.

New innovations will likely come out of the shake-up, and we’ll keep writing about this as more information comes out. Bottom line for now—if you are reliant upon Google Chrome and third-party cookies, now is the time to start shifting your strategy to rely on first-party data.

How Do I Pivot to First-Party Data?

First-party cookies are pieces of code that your website generates and connects to a user’s browser when they visit. These cookies enable you to collect information about what a user does on your website.

Many marketers are focusing on content marketing and tactics designed to convert cookied visitors to identified visitors. Typically, they do this with a web form or a website membership sign-up. Visitors share their contact information in exchange for the offer provided by the form or membership. The first-party cookie generated for these visitors replaces the need for third-party data and instead enables you to reach your target directly, based on data that you own.

This access to first-party data allows you to create more targeted and personalized campaigns. Plus, you’re able to implement remarketing strategies and retarget your audience via tools like the Facebook Pixel.

These new regulations for third-party cookies will impact media companies the same way. Moving forward, it will be important for marketers to ask their advertising partners where their data comes from.

Ask how your media partner is collecting data and understand their reliance on their own first-party data versus third-party data.

At Brief Media, we’ve been collecting first-party data in the veterinary industry for almost a decade via the content gate on cliniciansbrief.com. As a result, we are minimally reliant on third-party data, and many of our advertising efforts will be unaffected.

What’s Next?

First things first, take a deep dive into what you’re doing today and create an impact analysis of the loss of third-party cookie data. We’re happy to work with you on a plan to augment the loss of your third-party-data fueled advertising placements with first-party impressions. Additionally, it might be time to start a blog, if you don’t have one already. This can help you convert more visitors into known contacts in your database via a newsletter sign-up, gated content, and even long-form gated downloads. For more ideas to amp up your first-party data strategy, check out this post.  

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