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What is cookie death?

By Ulrika Mikiasson Reading time: 3 minutes

Cookie death means phasing out third-party cookies. When Google Chrome completes its phasing out of third-party cookies, at the end of 2024 – cookie death is a fact as Chrome owns 65 percent of the browser market. Most other major browsers have already done this.

What does third party cookies do? 

Third-party cookies track the visitor's activities across different websites – yes, across the web without supervision or consent. These cookies are called "third-party cookies" and with regard to the data protection regulation GDPR, third-party cookies will be phased out in 2024, which is also known colloquially as "cookie death". 

When does cookie death happen? 

Cookie death, or third-party cookies, is expected to be completely phased out by the end of 2024. 

It was in July 2023 that Google announced that Chrome will phase out third-party cookies. This after other major browsers such as Firefox and Safari had previously made the same decision. Google Chrome began phasing out third-party cookies at the beginning of 2024 and during the year will gradually increase the number of users who will be affected by this change. 

 What is a cookie? 

A "cookie" or "kaka" in Swedish, is a small text file that is saved in your browser when you visit a website. The purpose of a cookie is to store information about your visit, which can include everything from how you use the website, which browser you use and browsing history. For example, it is common to use cookies to remember who you are when you shop on an e-commerce site, so that the shopping cart in a web shop remembers that you put items in it if you surf to another page on the same website or take a detour to other websites.

Session cookies 

  • A session cookie is a temporary cookie that considered a necessary cookie for a website to function. This cookie does not require consent as it is stored temporarily and expires when you close your browser or app. 

First-party cookies 

  • A website owner may also use cookies over which it has full control. These cookies are called "first-party cookies" and are often used for functions such as remembering your login details or other personal preferences on a specific website. The difference here is that first-party cookies do not share your information with external parties. However, consent is required from you as a visitor before the website can place and activate them. 

What is a third-party service? 

A third-party service or third-party channel is, for example, analytics and advertising services from Google, Facebook or Hotjar. 

These services use their own cookies (third-party cookies) to identify a user in order to track visitor behavior across different websites, for example to deliver targeted ads based on the visitor's customer behavior.

Cookies from a third-party service are often called "third-party cookies" because they are placed by an external party, and not directly by the website you are visiting - even if it is the website owner who has decided to use an external service on their website. 

Will third-party cookies be replaced? 

No, third-party cookies will not be replaced. But Google wants to provide a privacy-friendly alternative instead, and plans to release a number of new APIs on July 24, 2024. 

This means that in Google Chrome (version 115) these will initially be:

  1. Topics API
  2. Protected Audience
  3. Attribution Reporting
  4. Private Aggregation
  5. Shared Storage
  6. Fenced Frames 

Google is investing in getting a standardization approval, but then the other browsers such as Microsoft Edge, Mozilla Firefox, Safari and The World Wide Web Consortium (W3C) must do the same - and this has not happened yet. 

How does cookie death affect marketers? 

As a marketer, you need to set new strategies based on first-party cookies because it is the data that you yourself collect and have the most control over on your website. 

With third-party cookies on the way out, it will be more difficult to work with the same level of security when retargeting. The change is big, but it is in line with data protection laws GDPR and increases the demand for a more privacy-friendly web. 

Think new: 

  • First-party data and direct data (first party data and zero party data) are becoming increasingly valuable, because it is the data that you collect yourself and have the most control over. 
  • Data quality becomes more important than data quantity. 
  • The importance of consent and transparency becomes even more important. As important as it was to collect consent for third-party data, you now need to work on collecting consent for first-party data. Both to build trust and to live up to the legal requirements. 
  • Contextual marketing is becoming increasingly important and will gain market share. The purpose of contextual marketing is to place your ads in a relevant context and context instead of retargeting where your ads are directed to specific target groups based on third-party cookies. 
  • Google has taken steps not to allow other types of invasive tracking technology. 
  • The new APIs and how they work will drive retargeting and advertising via Google's AdTech system going forward. 

Checklist for cookie death 

  • Digital marketing that has been dependent on third-party cookies is coming to an end 
  • New customized, more transparent and integrity-focused marketing takes place 
  • Set up a new strategy where first-party data is at the center 
  • Update your privacy policy 
  • Review which services you use on your website 
  • Invest in a good customer data platform (customer data platform) to get a handle on your data - read more Optimizely Data Platform 

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    Ulrika Mikiasson
    Ulrika Mikiasson

    Project Management | Measurement & Analysis

    Read all blog posts by Ulrika Mikiasson