Smaller Companies Still Aren’t Sure What to Do When Third-Party Cookies Go Away

They have until January 2022 to figure it out

The industry has until January 2022 to find an alternative to third-party cookies. Source: Getty Images
Headshot of Andrew Blustein

While large agencies and major publishers build out their first-party data solutions in preparation for the deprecation of third-party cookies, smaller companies say they’re still unprepared.

A September survey by LiveIntent of 200 senior marketers and publishers at small- to-midsize companies (firms with under 1,000 employees) found that 39% of respondents have no plan in place to get ready for cookie-less advertising. Of those with a plan, 48% said they have no confidence in it.

The digital ad industry has until the beginning of 2022, when Google plans to rid its market-leading Chrome browser of third-party cookies, to find a new way to trade targeted ads on the open web.

Of those surveyed, 79% said their marketing still primarily relies on third-party cookies to determine audience identity, and 52% of respondents said they still need another year to find another solution.

Most publishers and marketers agree that collecting first-party data, information users willingly provide, is a must when adapting to the decline of third-party cookies. Respondents said email addresses (29%), first-party data collected directly by publishers (25%) and embracing The Trade Desk’s Universal ID 2.0 (22%) are the most important digital assets when trying to replace third-party cookies.

“There’s no doubt that there will be many approaches to identity as a new era takes hold,” said Kerel Cooper, svp of global marketing at LiveIntent, said in a statement. “Different entities will have different, proprietary solutions to match their organization’s needs and assets for building Identity frameworks. Regardless of how each publisher or advertiser approaches identity, the key is being able to have a bridge to the ecosystem for their first- and third-party data using media assets they already own and control. This way, publishers and brands can control their destinies using the hard-earned assets they’ve won themselves in pursuit of compelling content.”

Publishers like The New York Times and Vox have been bolstering their data offerings to rely less on third parties and work more closely with marketers. Meanwhile IPG introduced ConneCXions to give brands more control over their own data.

But building out first-party data sets takes a huge investment, so smaller companies that lack the necessary financial resources and scale will likely find it harder to pivot away from using third-party cookies, even as the countdown clocks gets closer and closer to midnight.

The survey found 82% of respondents have had less than five meetings in the past year about preparing for the depletion of third-party cookies, even though 64% said they’re at least somewhat concerned about the future of advertising when third-party cookies go away.

The ad-tech industry is busy developing alternatives to third-party cookies. LiveIntent, an email-based identity vendor, is one of many companies building and selling ID solutions that don’t rely on third-party cookies.

Google also has two proposals, Turtledove and Dovekey, to maintain the viability of targeted advertising that it’s working through with other ad-tech companies and publishers as part of W3C.


Andrew Blustein is a programmatic reporter at Adweek.
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