Third-Party Cookies are Dead

Third-Party Cookie in 2022: Everything to know about what it is, why it’s going away, and what’s next…

If you’ve spent any amount of time online, you’ve probably come across cookies daily.
One minute, you’re casually browsing for a new bathing suit then click out of the website before buying. Not long before you’re seeing that product appearing across ALL THE OTHER websites you start visiting.
That experience stems from the third-party cookie, a simple piece of technology that’s had an outsized impact on the advertising industry as we know it today. Now, after years of controversy surrounding the third-party cookie, its days are numbered.

So what is a cookie, exactly? It’s really just a text file that is placed in your browser by a website. It’s sort of like an identifier for…well YOU!

Of course, that definition only scratches the surface. While its origins and the mechanisms that make it work might be simple, the cookie has helped fuel the 455.3 billion digital advertising industry through the 21st century, making it possible for marketers to send personalized—or invasive, depending on who you ask—ads to people based on their browsing behavior.

There’s no denying the third-party cookie has made marketers’ lives easier since its inception. But it’s also come with several drawbacks, some of which have spurred its demise.

Just because you can endlessly target people doesn’t mean they’ll actually buy what’s being sold. Research is mixed as to the effectiveness, and even the relevancy, of targeted ads in influencing users.

Plus, cookies are based on history—where someone has been. Sure, this can help marketers understand where someone might go next, but most people don’t need to be sold on a book they’re already planning to buy, or a hotel room for a vacation they’ve already booked.

All that aside, the biggest problem attached to cookies is that they come with major privacy concerns. The cookie was never designed with privacy in mind. It can be used to capture all sorts of data on you. In the right hands, all of this data can be pretty powerful. 

But fear not, there are many things that are killing the “cookie”.

Consumer Annoyance: Heard about Facebook in the news lately? Simple questions on a Facebook personality test opened up the aperture to a lot of consumers on how your information could be leveraged in negative ways. All from a former president using them to boost $R*#P political ads to unethical marketers watching your everyday choices made on the internet.

GDPR + CCPA: These two pieces of legislation have also contributed to the third-party cookie’s demise.

Chrome Browser: Many browsers are now giving you the option to block cookies, but the real nail in the coffin for the third-party cookie arrived last year. In January 2020, Google said its Chrome web browser would stop supporting the cookie within two years, although the company recently extended the deadline to mid-to-late 2023.

Google: Of course, Google wasn’t just going to stop making money from advertising. In 2019, Chrome rolled out Privacy Sandbox, an initiative to help advertisers reach the customers they want, while maintaining personal privacy for users. One of Google’s proposed replacements for the third-party cookie is “Federated Learning of Cohorts,” or FLoC. Instead of targeting users on an individual level, Google will segment users by interest group—or “cohorts”—based on browsing history. So, even though you might be placed in a cohort of, say, cheeseburger-loving amusement-park enthusiasts, an advertiser would theoretically have a hard time singling you out as one. Cohorts also change each week in response to a person’s browsing behavior.

Marketers, agencies, publishers, and everyone in between are preparing for a mostly cookieless future—and imagining what it might look like.

My Thoughts: 

Some in the industry believe the erasure of third-party cookies will be a good thing for the copywriters and art directors of the world. Why? Without cookies, it will only become harder for marketers to know that someone looked at red lipstick, then serve that person an ad featuring a picture of red lipstick and hope for the best.

In other words, creatives will literally need to get creative if they want to capture attention. I think what this creates is a really awesome opportunity for more data-informed creative. It’s the art of advertising and the art of media coming back. It’s not just about serving an ad to the right person at the right time but making sure the content within that ad is compelling enough to catch someone’s eye.


SEO Health & 3 Super Simple Discoveries For Your Website

Before I jump on a call with a potential new client, I like to do a quick website check to figure out the overall SEO health of their website.

It’s nice to have some info on how much work the site will require before I get on the phone with the client. This is the website health check process that I go through for every client. The process is very straightforward and can be done in less than 10 minutes.

Step 1: Determine the number of keywords the site ranks for

One of my very favorite SEO Tools is SEMrush. This is my go-to website ranking tool, I literally have it open all day long.

I have the paid plan, but the free version is very handy and full-featured for one person/website. The free version of SEMrush allows you to do 10 complete searches with the tool before you buy it. The goal of this first step is to determine how many keywords Google ranks a site for.

The more keywords that a site has the more opportunities to be found. So head on over to SEMrush and in the All Reports Input box, type your domain name. There is a lot on this screen to look at, but I focus on the Organic Search column on the left (look for the red square). There is a lot of fantastic info here in this little box.

I used as my example. Take a look and see the total number of keywords is 1.1M and the Growth is +4%. Claps for that!

Now, 1.1M keywords are quite a lot. Probably waaaaaay more than most sites. MBG has so many because they continually produce great content, they have influencers write for them and a ton of quality sites link to them. So. that said.

Please don’t be discouraged if you are ranking for 100 or 500 words. At this point, the number is interesting but not very significant. Next, I click on View Full Report under the Top Organic Keywords. At the top of the page, I focus on the Keyword Rank Trend chart at the top of the page. The default is to display the last year of monthly keyword totals.

From this graph, I can get a very clear picture of the keyword health.

Is it consistent? Is it growing each month? Is it dipping? Was there a big decline in keywords or a huge spike?

I am looking for consistency here. If there is a big spike or dip, I want to figure out why that was (could be a new site, new host, new theme, stopped blogging, had a malware attack….) MBG keyword ranking is very healthy. The trend is positive and very consistent. So far, so good for this health check.

Step 2: Check your Backlinks (quickly)

Okay so once we have established that the keywords are growing consistently, then I hop down to Backlinks.

So just like keywords the more you have the more love? Google will throw your way.

Now there are some nuances to backlinks, the site that is linking to your site does matter. A more authoritative site (think NY Times or The Every Girl) will provide more SEO juice than a site that has very little authority and traffic. But since we are just doing a quick SEO Health Check, I want to see if the site does in fact have backlinks and are they growing.

If this true, then that tells me that the site has authority and trust since other sites are actively linking to them.

At this point based on keywords and backlinks, my initial impression of the site is coming into focus. MBG is a very healthy site. For the final step, I go to the website.

Step 3: Oogle at Your Actual Website

The big idea here is to go to the homepage and see if I can easily figure out what the site is all about —as quickly as possible. I want to learn the purpose of the site within the first few seconds.

Pro Tip: if I can’t figure out the point of a site quickly, then Google won’t either. So make your big brand statement easy to understand and very easy to find.

Annnnd that is all folks! This simple 3 step process is one that I go through for each and every potential client. Determining the keyword rankings, the backlinks, and assessing the blog content are all great indicators of the site’s overall SEO Health.

Still too confusing? Get in touch with Jacquelyn (Creative Director and SEO Guruof What do you need help with?