The end of third-party cookies: how it will affect your e-commerce in 2024

Originally planned for 2022, then postponed to 2023 and recently postponed again to the second half of 2024, the elimination of third-party cookies in Google Chrome aims to increase user privacy on the Internet, and other search engines already work in this way.

It is also a controversial measure, as monetization of digital content and targeting of ads by user groups relies on this technology. For this reason, the announcement of the new implementation date brought a wave of relief to digital marketers and e-commerce professionals.

It is important to start now with the development of alternatives that can fulfill the same function as cookies, without compromising user privacy.

However, it is extremely important to start now to develop alternatives that can fulfill the same function as cookies, without compromising user privacy: certainly, a challenge.

Find out what cookies are, which functions will cease to exist in 2024 and how you can prepare your e-commerce for this new context.

What are cookies and what are they for in your e-commerce?

Day after day, every website you visit, e-commerce or not, has its own privacy policy. And to implement this policy you must give your consent. That’s why you usually click “accept” or “accept all” as soon as the cookie pop-up window appears.

Although consent is mandatory, it is known that no user will actually open and read all the cookie management conditions that he wants or does not want to accept. The vast majority do not even know how cookies work.

Basically, cookies are snippets of code attached to web pages, and are used to track information about individual users. For example:

  • login information
  • Products added to cart
  • Pages accessed
  • ads to click
  • etc.

At first glance, this loose information may not seem significant. However, when it’s possible to track the exact path a user takes, not just on your website, but on the internet in general, and cross-reference all that data so you can segment different audiences…

Well, we don’t even need to say: there is a mountain of money on the table.

Not all cookies will cease to exist

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

Primary codes are those that track information only at the point of origin. That is, they track the actions performed by the user only on that page, and the information is not shared. Therefore, they are able to “store” data generated by progress, such as:

  • Apply
  • Products in the basket
  • Interactions with the content of that page

Third-party cookies can map a user’s journey on other websites because they belong to other domains, such as ads.

This is why these cookies are used so much to set up digital marketing campaigns. A wealth of information makes it much easier to offer products and services to the “right people”, including information such as:

  • Products of interest (in more than one e-store)
  • Ads clicked (with more than one domain)
  • Articles read (in more than one blog)

However, these cookies will go down in history because they violate the new data privacy rules.

Browsers like Safari and Firefox no longer use these types of cookies, and Chrome will follow in their footsteps in 2024.

Google vs Meta vs Apple: What’s behind this race of giants

You must have heard that “data is the new oil”, and this statement perfectly describes the latest global context.

That’s how companies like Google or Amazon and all their spin-offs got rich: by using massive amounts of data about their users to scale their own platforms.

Apple, on the other hand, took a different position from the beginning, which questions this kind of methodology. A clear example of this was the launch of the tracking transparency application in 2021. An application that gives the user the power to decide which data about their online journey to allow or not track. This resulted in 62% of Apple users unfollowing and digital marketing strategists turned it upside down.

Not much can be done when the movement starts with such force. People are more and more aware of how much their information is worth, and we must not forget the fact that traditional advertising is less and less tolerated.

Meta has made its opposite point very clear: targeted ads are the raison d’être of their platforms (Instagram and Facebook) and also the reason why advertising has become more accessible to small businesses.

After all, the democratization of the media is a fact and has its own origins.

However, this is a complex issue and there are no simple solutions. Google is about to join the privacy movement, and it’s up to marketers and e-commerce professionals to prepare for it.

What alternatives to cookies exist so far?

Certainly, by 2024, new technological solutions will appear that will be able to bypass the absence of cookies, and there are already indications of this.

For now, there are two complementary fronts considering alternatives for the future of digital advertising:

  • Development of new tools that can maintain the quality of information flow, without interfering with good practices and privacy policies.
  • The improvement of marketing as a whole, where the user experience is always in the first place, and the adoption of inbound marketing is inevitable.

Google has been working on a feature called FloC. A tool very similar to cookies, but collects group data instead of individual data. This allows sites to take large samples of users with the same profile while preserving specific information.

Searching for related content by a search engine also has the same purpose: to preserve information and segment interests.

It seems that other platforms, like Arena or Admetricks, are ready to live the new era of digital marketing.

Whether they’re logging ads instead of individual information or developing software that drives real-time engagement through live events, they see viable alternatives that protect each user’s individual data without harming the reach of advertisers.

Additionally, there is always a need to optimize first-party cookie strategies. Attracting qualified potential customers, converting and retaining as many as possible, if it was already a matter of survival, will now be a matter of mere existence.

Conclusions for your business

The last two years have been crucial for the digital market, and it seems that the volatility and uncertainty is not over yet. The development of cookie alternatives will be closely watched globally because it cannot be denied: without an effective method, there is a high risk that digital marketing will lose its assertiveness.

However, there is a lot of money on the table and the possibilities are multiple.

For now, we advise:

  • Continue to invest in your user experience and build your domain authority. In practice, this is what will ensure the growth of your business.
  • Take responsibility for building community. There is no advertisement more powerful than word of mouth.
  • Don’t forget that while marketing is necessary, it is not enough to make your e-commerce business a success. Don’t neglect your management.

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