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third party cookies

Preparing for when third party cookies crumble

Google is phasing out the use of third party cookies. That’s no news. With 97% of advertisers using third party data, the question on everyone’s lips is how to prepare for this so-called ‘cookiepocalypse’.

The difference types of data

Zero party data

Data the consumer intentionally provides to you on your site. For example, data collected in sign up forms.

First party data

Data you collect on your audience based on their behaviours on your site and/or app. For example, purchase history, or login information.

Second party data

Someone else’s first party data that you use with formal permission, either by paying for it or partnering with somebody.

Third party data

A collection of multiple first party data sources aggregated across websites and applications by independent researchers and companies. This data is served from third parties that aren’t on the site you’re visiting.

The different types of cookies

Cookies are small files that help identify a user and their computer and allow for an improved browsing experience and the delivery of targeted ads. The problem is, they’re also used maliciously. And with the increasing importance of privacy and security on the web, their future is crumbling.

There are a few different types of cookies. The main ones being first and third party cookies.

First party cookies

These are placed on a website by the owner of the site to collect data for the owner. Why? To improve user experience. The types of data collected are user preferences, settings, items added to shopping carts, usernames, passwords.

Third party cookies

These are placed on a website by someone other than the owner (i.e. a third party) to collect data for the third party. Why? For online advertising purposes. Third party cookies are often set by advertising networks that a site may subscribe to in order to drive traffic or sales.

The risks of third party cookies


The biggest concern is user tracking without consent. As you browse, the ads you visit may be sneaking third party cookies into your computer.

Although we now have laws like General Data Protection Regulation (GDPR) which require users to consent, many click through prompts and terms out of habit and convenience.


Cookies can help third parties execute malicious requests such as deleting files, stealing sensitive information, and gaining access to accounts. This can be detrimental for both businesses and individuals.


Cookies have been used to create potentially millions of dollars of fraudulent purchases through cookie stuffing – “an activity which allows actors online to defraud affiliate marketing programs by causing themselves to receive credit for purchases made by web users… even if the affiliate marketer didn’t actively perform any marketing for the affiliate program” (Seekurity).

The impact of a cookieless future

For users

Peace of mind that their cookies and sessions aren’t being used for malicious activity.

For site owners

Most sites use cookies to maintain login sessions. As a user experience agency, we will be encouraging site owners to adopt first party data strategies which take advantage of other, more secure personal identifiers so that they can maintain a consistent user experience.

For marketers

The removal of third party cookies is likely to have the biggest impact on marketers. Every in-house marketing team and digital marketing agency should be looking for ways to build their own data, build better relationships with exclusive advertisers, and educate their organisations about cookieless practices.

How to prepare

Stay aware of emerging privacy threats

Not only is the removal of third party cookies going to impact users, site owners and marketers, it will also affect hackers! So they’ll also be looking for alternatives. Meaning any technology will be phased out if it poses a security risk. So stay on top of the latest threats and regulations.

Use alternative identifiers

Here are some options:

  • Contextual targeting: Placing ads on related marketing channels
  • Universal IDs: Offered through security platforms that provide secure means of tracking users across the web
  • Cohorts: Grouping users together based on similar interests. So rather than individual identification, we use activity information to deliver consistent, targeted experiences to groups of people who display similar characteristics.

Collect more zero party data

As a digital marketing agency, we will be advising clients to put a big focus on collecting their own zero party data from users.

Interactive content like surveys, quizzes, and multi-step forms can be great to implement on your site. For example, ecommerce brands could ask a user a series of questions in order to find them the best product.

Not only will this add to your site’s user experience, it will also allow you to collect valuable first party data such as product preferences.

Focus on brand building

Up until now, a digital marketing agency may have focused on bottom of the funnel strategies because of the great targeting options that were available. Now, we need to try and persuade users to actually want to give us their information.

Marketers will therefore need to focus on building up consumers’ trust with solid brand building marketing strategies. Not only that, but they will also need to focus on producing gated content that users actually want to give their information up to receive.

In summary

Although the removal of third party cookies seems scary, it is a necessity in order to keep the internet safe and secure. And the good news is that there are plenty of workarounds. 

If you’d like to chat to a digital marketing agency or user experience agency about how you can prepare for a cookieless future, get in touch with us at Propeller.