March 13, 2020

The News, Explained: Google to Eliminate Third-Party Cookies, Pt. 1

The industry is reeling after Google announced it would phase out support for third-party cookies in its popular Chrome web browser within two years. As an agency committed to building brands through addressable marketing, this has our ears perked and our attentions focused, to say the least.


A Business Agency

In part 1 of this series, we cover the basics: what is a third-party cookie, and what does their removal mean for marketing?

What is a third-party cookie?

In short, it’s a temporary identifier put on your device when you visit a website, by someone other than the website owner.  Ad technology platforms like Google AdWords, data management platforms (DMP) like Adobe Audience Manager and Salesforce Audience Studio, and re-targeters like Criteo and AdRoll, leverage third-party cookies. They work with brands to place their cookie on the computer of a user that has browsed the brand’s website. When that user goes to another site, brands can identify that user through their third-party cookie. Once identified, they can serve a display ad communicating something related to that initial website visit, like reminding them to buy that product they left in their shopping cart. Despite being fragile, since they’re only temporary (cookies can be cleared), and device-dependent, they’ve been an essential tool for advertisers to reach anonymous browsers with targeted content.

What are the implications on marketers and ad tech platforms?

The move will adversely affect those companies that depend on third-party cookies for their targeting, and that don’t have any first-party data to fall back on, like:

  • Consumer packaged goods (CPGs) companies and retailers without customers’ personally identifiable information (PII), such as those with no loyalty programs or that don’t require logins to their digital properties
  • Ad-tech solutions like retargeters, DMPs, on-boarders and other ad-tech solutions that depend on cookie-based identity graphs
  • Demand-side platforms (DSPs) and publishers activating on non-walled garden inventory that rely on cookies to identify the individual


Brands who have not developed a first-party data strategy will not be able identify their users and their actions, and ultimately, will have trouble reaching their audiences for targeted ads. Additionally, websites where a user is not logged in will now have trouble serving targeted ads relevant to their users.

Mike Tayag

Head of Marketing and Ad Technology