Third-party cookies, first-party data, and the future

Yesterday I stopped by a local grocer here in Manhattan. And for the first time since the coronavirus hit, the cashier charged me a nickel for a bag to carry my purchase. She apologized, profusely, and said that someone had complained that her store had not been enforcing the new bag rules — postponed for several months during the COVID-19 crisis but relaunched in mid June — aimed at reducing waste.

“I’m sorry,” she said. “But now we have to go back to worrying about what we worried about before the virus.”

If you work in performance marketing, one of things you have to go back to worrying about is the pending disappearance of third-party cookies. In January, when Google announced that third-party cookies had just two years left to live, everyone was worried about it. You probably had a meeting or two or 10 at your company where people complained and argued.

But then the world fell apart. We all went into quarantine. The economy slowed. And the ad tech world seemingly just didn’t have the bandwidth to worry about it. So you didn’t worry about it.

Now, like a bad penny (or a 5 cent bag deposit), the call to worry about the death of third-party cookies has returned. In a sense, this is progress. If you’re worrying again about how to do your job, it means you have a job. Consider yourself blessed.

In addition, we would suggest that the loss of third-party cookies doesn’t need to be the disaster than many fear it will be. You don’t need to wait for Google or the ad industry or anyone else to fix the situation. You can fix it yourself. With your first-party data.

At <intent>, we use machine learning to make real-time predictions about the likelihood any given user will take a particular action. Performance marketers use us to lower customer-acquisition costs, increase profit, improve return-on-ad-spend, etc. And we don’t need the cross-site tracking enabled by third-party cookies since we are only scoring users on your site.

We don’t set our own cookie, we simply collect the first party ID that you set in order to track users. We use that to provide you with the <intent> scores that power all our products.

That first-party ID is not going away. And if you learn to use it more widely by working with a machine-learning organization like us, your first-party future will be a lot more profitable than your third-party past.

So when your boss tells you it’s time to worry again about the loss of third-party cookies, tell them to calm down. And click the “Contact Us” button on the bottom of this page.

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