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The Key to Digital Marketing in a Cookie-Free Internet

posted by Michael Epps Utley Michael Epps Utley
The Key to Digital Marketing in a Cookie Free Internet

Google recently launched the final phase of tracking cookies on its Chrome browser after the practice had been ramping down on other browsers for almost a decade. It will end all cookie activity by the end of 2024.

Here’s what you need to know about this once-and-for-all elimination of cookies.

What Is a Cookie?

A cookie is a tiny bit of text placed on your digital device by the server of a website you visit. Cookies are small digital files containing data — represented by those bits of text — about a user, or more accurately, the device used to browse the internet, whether a smartphone, tablet, laptop, or computer. The personal information in the file can inform other sites about where the user has been, the products and services they’ve looked at, and the online searches they’ve conducted.

Cookies also allow internet users to stay logged into sites without having to enter usernames and passwords every time they visit. They also allow sites to remember visitor preferences, smoothing the internet experience.

The cookie is placed on your device to recognize your browser or recall information associated with it when you return to a site. All cookies have an owner, the domain specified in the cookie.

There are two types of cookies: first-party and third-party.

First-party cookies correspond directly to the site you’re visiting. For instance, if you visit and the cookie's domain placed on your computer is, it is a first-party cookie.

When you visit and it places a cookie on your device that says, this is an example of a third-party cookie. Third-party cookies allow marketers to follow users all over the internet with an ad for the same products or services hundreds or more times (most of us are familiar with this practice by now).

Google decided to turn off cookies permanently because of the terrible online advertising experiences they were delivering. It’s the culmination of a process that’s been happening for a long time. In 2013, Apple’s Safari and Mozilla’s Firefox restricted cookies from third-party advertisers. A few years later, Microsoft Edge and a few other browsers did the same. The issue: those browsers represent a relatively small percentage of online search activity.

Today, 60 percent of online searches occur on Google’s Chrome browser, which recently cut what was left of cookie tracking.

A Search Universe Without Cookies

The world of digital advertising and marketing is changing in a big way for companies of all sizes. The lack of cookies impacts the ability to optimize search engine marketing and what people see and experience when they visit your site and others.

Early data shows that Google Chrome users in the post-cookie era spent about 30 percent less online than when cookies were allowed. The reason for this decline is that it’s harder to target buyers with meaningful offers without their cookies.

Businesses must counter this change by collecting, monitoring, and leveraging information about their website visitors and buyers.

Don’t take the cookie cutting as a negative. Instead, view it as an opportunity to get to know customers so you can deliver better content, establish and build deeper relationships, and serve them more meaningful offers and recommendations while on your site. Ultimately, you will have greater control over your marketing and buying experience, eventually selling more goods and services to an audience you understand better.

What’s critical during this transition is that you develop digital experiences that motivate visitors to give you their information so you can deliver more value to them over time. For now, this is the only way to win in a world without cookies.

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