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Customer engagement in the post-cookie era: when the data source dries up

With the end of third-party cookies, companies are moving back to the roots and developing their own data warehouse solutions.

Third-party cookies – the backbone of online marketing – have an expiry date. But does this development mean the general end for user tracking? No! However, new ways have to be found to get at the raw data material.

Everyone using the internet knows the phenomenon: you click through the catalogues on an online shopping website and take a closer look at a product. A short time later, advertisements for exactly this product appear on all kinds of websites. Some people feel stalked by the advertising industry. But the alleged online stalking can be explained.

This is where they come into play: data. They are the raw material of every successful e-commerce business. In order to build up so-called user profiles, cookies are stored on the computer, smartphone or tablet and thus the personal customer journey is recorded. Consumers are usually not even aware of how much personal data they reveal with every click on cookie banners. Demographic data such as age, gender and income, but also hobbies and purchasing behavior form the basis for the transparent person on the Internet.


Consent is King
However, companies do not have a completely free hand when it comes to tracking internet users. With the GDPR, the European Union has established stricter rules for e-commerce. For example, companies must obtain the active consent of users with cookie banners in order to be able to track activities. However, weaknesses have also been apparent here for some time: According to the current Analytics & Cookie Consent Benchmark Study 2022 by the German tracking specialist etracker, only 17 percent of visitors agree to the processing of their data if the consent design is legally compliant. Cookie-based tracking does not even capture a fifth of reality and thus makes a large part of user behavior no longer measurable.


Back to the roots
And the data spiral continues downwards. For example, Apple’s Safari web browser has blocked third party cookies by default for several years. From 2024 on cookies will finally end in Google’s Chrome browser, and the industrious collection of data via third party cookies will no longer be possible in the world’s most widely used browser. This will put a stop to the behavior-based targeting of users across various websites and browser providers.

One consequence of this is that first party data is becoming more important again in online marketing – i.e. data that is collected directly via one’s own channels such as website, social media or physical locations. This is because it offers a safe and effective way to build customer relationships, create personalised offers and measure the success of marketing campaigns. A new cookie-free future based on trusted data and direct relationships is becoming the new standard for how businesses engage with their customers. By maximising the value of their first-party data while prioritising customer trust and privacy, advertisers can prepare for the post-cookie era.


Conclusion: The use of first party data for customer acquisition has long been neglected. The offers from Google, Facebook and Co. were too attractive. Companies must now rethink their data strategies. With the end of third party cookies, companies are moving “back to the roots” and developing their own data warehouse solutions. This results in a huge potential of new opportunities and possibilities – because first-hand data is accurate and realistic, customer journeys are created that really improve the customer experience.


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