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How marketers need to prepare for the death of third-party cookies

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Cookie FAQs

What is a third-party cookie?

Third-party cookies are created and placed by third parties other than the website the user is on. Used mostly for tracking and online advertising purposes, third-party cookies have been the standard for gathering insights into user behaviors and preferences for many years. They have come under scrutiny recently, however, as users seek to gain more control over their personal data and privacy.

What is a first-party cookie?

First-party cookies are generated by the website the user is on. First-party cookies are usually favored since they support a better user experience, such as remembering a user's language preferences and what he adds to his cart. Typically, a first-party cookie will also include an implicit acknowledgment or action by user to agree that they agree to share their personal information to the website.

What is GDPR?

Introduced in 2016, the European Union's General Data Protection Regulation (GDPR) was put into place to more closely regulate what personal information companies can gather and store from users within EU member states, including the "Right to be Forgotten" (GDPR Article 17).

What is CCPA?

Signed into law in June 2018, the California Consumer Privacy Act (CCPA) requires the disclosure by applicable businesses of the commercial reasons for collecting or selling personal information.

One of the biggest stories in marketing today is increasing consumer privacy standards that are upending how digital advertisers and marketers are able to reach and target consumers.

Standards like the EU's General Data Protection Regulation (GDPR) and the California Consumer Privacy Act (CCPA) were at the forefront of this movement a few years ago. Just now in 2021, Apple joined the fray by requiring consumers to opt in to being tracked across apps with the IDFA ("identifier for advertisers").

One of the most momentous changes is still to come, however, as Google has announced that it will be ending support for third-party cookies in 2022.

These privacy changes will have a major effect on the digital advertising and marketing ecosystems. For instance, AppsFlyer found that up to 73% of consumers may opt out of tracking now that Apple is giving them the choice. If consumers opt out, they may not get the same degree of targeted ads from the likes of Facebook, for example.

The truth is that no one really knows what the privacy-first future holds. For instance, a Teads study found that only 5% of European users decline personalized ad cookies, indicating that the effect of privacy measures might not be as bad as expected.

Yet amid all the uncertainty, marketers must still be prepared to succeed in a privacy-first world.

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How marketers are preparing for privacy changes

To deal with increasing privacy moves, major players like Facebook and Google will move from being data facilitators into more of a data collector role, meaning that they will rely more on their own first-party data.

What is the difference between first-party cookies and third? First- and third-party cookies are the same kind of files, but there's a difference in how they are created and used by websites.

First-party cookies are generated by the website the user is on. They are usually considered good since they support a better user experience, such as remembering a user's language preferences and what he adds to his cart.

Third-party cookies are created and placed by third parties other than the website the user is on. Used mostly for tracking and online advertising purposes, these have become more controversial in recent years.

First-party cookies are the gold standard because they collect high-quality data that the user has consented to sharing. Many companies are leaning into technology to compete in first-party data collection. They’re looking at new, creative ways to gather first-party data, such as collecting information from a free giveaway entry. 

As third-party data goes by the wayside, marketers may not have access to the same data they had before in the same way, somewhat limiting their ability to run successful campaigns. However, alternative strategies, such as first-party data, enable marketers to continue to drive results. 

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Brightspot helps its customers adapt to privacy changes

At Brightspot, it's important that our flexible, future-forward CMS supports customers through changes like the loss of third-party cookies. This way, we can help them adjust to the new normal and be ready for the next content challenge. Brightspot CMS offers audience segmentation, which allows CMS users to group audiences and deliver personalized content to them across devices. 

Brightspot collects first-party data that roll up into audience segments. This includes authentication flows, such as registering and logging in, as well as user profiles. Brightspot also looks at affinity features, such as bookmarking and following. For instance, Brightspot's back-end view can reveal when a user last logged in and what kind of content they've engaged with.

Creating audience segments is one step, but you need to use the segments effectively. Brightspot's modular content approach lets you present variations of content to different audience segments. You can also deliver content to the segments across multiple devices and screens. This has many benefits, including speeding up the marketing team's work and increasing effectiveness with customers.

Navigating privacy through integrations

Brightspot is API-first to make integrations easy, and certain integrations can help marketers navigate the cookie changes. One example is Tealium, which is a Customer Data Platform (CDP) that advocates for unification of first-party cookie data. Tealium can name site visitor attributes based on behaviors, which helps to create audience segments. It can also be a hub for a full customer profile.

Technology like Tealium comes in as personalization is becoming more important for Brightspot customers. Content developers and publishers can use first-party data to refine their content and make it more relevant on a one-to-one level. Going beyond just Tealium, Brightspot can work with a variety of CDPs and related technologies.

The privacy balance

There will always be changes to which marketers have to adapt. They have done it before, and they’ll do it now in the face of the much-discussed "death of the third-party cookie."

The first step is to embrace first-party data, which can be used to create audience segments and personalize content in a way that protects user privacy. That way, marketers can get the best of both worlds with strong content marketing ROI that respects users' privacy and earns their trust.

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