Nearly 10 years ago, I drew one of my most popular cartoons that showed a Peeping Tom looking through the window of a living room at a couple. One says, “Don’t worry, it’s only marketers collecting our personal data so they can create more relevant advertising for us.”
Third-party cookies have been at the center of the consumer privacy debate in marketing over the last decade. And the end of third-party cookies has been a long time coming. Google announced in 2020 that it would phase out cookies on Chrome by 2022, later delayed to 2023, and now the end of 2024.
In the last few weeks, Google took a few major steps in that direction, rolling out APIs for their Privacy Sandbox Developer tools as part of a replacement strategy. By early 2024, Google plans to turn off third-party cookies for 1% of users and then fully sunlight them in Q3 2024.
The transition has been dubbed the “Cookiepocalypse” because the stakes are high and the path forward it still unclear. Third-party cookies have been a key plank of the $700 billion digital ad business for more than a quarter century (first used in 1994 by Lou Montulli for the Netscape browser).
Brands have been experimenting with a range of alternatives — from contextual advertising to ramping up first-party data collection to AI tools — but so far, there is no silver bullet solution .
An Adobe study a few months ago showed that 75% of marketers still rely heavily on third-party cookies. 45% of marketers spend at least half their budgets on campaigns based on third-party cookies. 64% plan to increase their spending on cookie-based activations this year.
Relay 42 recently published a study that 72% of CMOs say this transition will be difficult to handle, but 61% say it will ultimately be a good thing for business. Buckle up!
Here are a few related cartoons I’ve drawn over the years: