Here at Media Buyer Dallas, we love cookies. Often, we snack on them while we’re working hard on a media plan that’s just right for our clients. We love chocolate chip, oatmeal raisin, vanilla cream, etc. We also love the virtual variety of cookies – the ones that help us stitch together user identities, improve user experiences, and collect data to help target the right audiences for your ads. These tracking cookies have been foundational to digital advertising for years. But as much as we may love them, most online users can’t stand them.

There are growing concerns about consumer data privacy as more people spend time online.  While this may be a tough cookie to swallow (and we’re not even close to being done with our corny puns), Google has announced its plans to stop using tracking cookies on Chrome browsers by 2022, switching to a group profiling system instead of individual user tracking. The tracking cookies continue to crumble as Safari and Firefox now block them by default.

Google is one smart cookie, as making this transition gives them the advantage. Within its walled gardens, Google has unlimited access to 1st party data that it directly collects from users. It then uses targeted ads from its own publishing platforms. First-party data is more valuable than ever, and the big brands like Google, Facebook, and Amazon have the advantage. Because of this, third-party publishers are left feeling half-baked.

Utilizing first-party, privacy-friendly datasets is actually a better way to market, with richer, more impactful data to increase campaign performance. They also strengthen the relationship and trust between the consumer and the business.  Many browsers have already been blocking cookies, with a 75% rejection rate on mobile devices and 41% on desktop devices. Therefore, many advertisers are actually wasting money on data that’s not completely accurate and on unnecessary impressions that aren’t going to convert anyway.

With the cookie gone, the next best option is keyword targeting. The industry has shifted away from it over the years, but with this big change, advertisers are making a beeline back to it.  Contextual advertising means ads that are relevant to the context on the rest of the page. For example, advertising Coca-Cola products on a movie theater website. You need to go where your consumers are. And from the consumers’ perspective, it’s a lot less creepy seeing an ad on a website with other relevant content than being “stalked” across the web. So if you’re on a sports webpage, it makes a lot more sense to get beer ads, or sports gear ads, than advertising based on kitchen tile designs you Googled yesterday.

As changes happen across the web, the digital advertising market will rise to the challenge. So even with cookies disappearing from the virtual world, don’t worry, as there will still be plenty of real cookies left to eat.