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Heather Frederick Apr 01, 2021 3 min read

What is the "Cookie Apocalypse," and How Can Marketers Survive It?

What is the Cookie Apocalypse? (gasp)

In February 2020, Google announced that it will be phasing out cookies. Marketers have used cookies to track visitors to our websites and collect data to target and improve user experience. Although Safari and Firefox already blocked third-party cookies, losing Chrome cookies will cause a significant change in how we do business online. Google also just recently announced that individual user tracking will not replace third-party cookies. By 2023, Chrome will join Safari and Firefox in no longer supporting third-party cookies as a type of data tracking, ultimately ushering in the cookie apocalypse.

So how do we market without third-party cookies when we've relied on them for so long? What do we do now?

Well, first off, don't panic. Google isn't getting rid of all cookies. First-party cookies that track data on websites will still be present. You can use these cookies to collect basic analysis on your website and your visitor's behaviors and preferences, such as what your visitors did on your page, what pages they visited, and for how long. However, this data cannot inform you of what your visitors do online outside of your website. 

Google has also introduced conversion modeling through consent mode. Consent mode is a beta feature that Google introduced last year to help advertisers in the European Economic Area be more conscious of their users' privacy. Consent mode makes it so if a user does not consent to being tracked, Google tags will not read or write cookies for advertising or analytics. According to Google, conversion modeling through Consent Mode will help fill the measurement gaps due to the loss of data by recovering more than 70% of ad-click-to-conversion journeys. You can read more about conversion modeling through consent mode on Google's blog here.

If you rely heavily on third-party data, start thinking of alternative solutions now. Here are some we have been thinking about:

Contextual Advertising

Contextual advertising, or anything keyword-based advertising, places ads relevant to the other content on the screen by matching keywords. Your potential customers are only seeing ads for content related to what they are consuming at that moment.  

People-Based Targeting

People-based targeting does not rely on third-party cookies to gain user data. Instead, it focuses on the user rather than the device of the user. People are retargeted through data that they consensually give, such as emails. 

Stay Up-to-Date

Continue to follow news related to the phasing out of cookies and look into other solutions that can help your business move away from the third-party cookie. Google's Privacy Sandbox could be an excellent place to start, as it will most likely provide an alternative to ad targeting. Make sure to leverage third-party cookies while they are still here. Make good use of them, but it is important not to rely solely on data.

Think Outside of the Box

Sometimes simply looking at marketing, sales or tech isn't going to cut it. Sometimes you need to holistically look at other aspects to find your solutions. Christopher Ryan, CEO of SIX Marketing, recalls one instance where marketing was not going to be the sole tactic for growth. "When we sat down and talked with the client, we realized that we did not need to market to new consumers necessarily, but increase revenue from the current client base, so we implemented a process that decreased appointment cancelations. We were able to increase revenue by 3% just by implementing this simple process."


At SIX, we spend a lot of time upfront getting to know our clients. We find sitting down and having conversations is key to discovering the best way to achieve company growth. Our job is to listen, analyze, and develop a plan to provide help. You can't shortcut this process; it requires constantly seeking and interacting with live human beings, not just data or AI.  


So, while the death of the third-party cookie may seem like the end of times, it is an opportunity to connect more with your clients. Cookies are already 25 years old. It's time for something new. This is now our time as marketers to come up with alternative ways of advertising. It's time to roll up your sleeves and get creative. Do you have some ideas you want to share? Feel free to comment below. 


Want to stay up to date on any other privacy changes that could affect your business? SIX has got your back. Check out more posts on our blog.


Heather Frederick

Junior Analyst | SIX Marketing