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Big Tech Breaks Out the Cookie Cutter

Big Tech has become a talking point in Washington. Lawmakers across the aisle have discussed plans to limit or even break up the companies known as the Big Five: Alphabet (Google), Facebook, Amazon, Apple, and Microsoft. Despite the hype, there’s no sign of that happening anytime soon.

Instead, the biggest changes marketers need to worry about with Big Tech are the rules they write themselves. Namely, the removal of third-party cookies has become a big concern for advertisers.

Here’s how the titans of technology are changing what advertisers can do in order to offer users greater control over their data.

User Privacy Becomes the Focus

In January 2020, Google announced it would phase out third-party cookies within the next two years. Apple jumped the gun and removed such cookies from their Safari browser in March.

So, what exactly are these cookies that are causing so much trouble? It’s important to know the different types. First-party cookies are generally considered “good,” and they help sites do things like remember your saved username and what you left in your shopping cart. These cookies only track you on one specific website. Third-party cookies, by contrast, follow you around the web, tracking your behavior. These cookies are great for advertisers, but not so popular with Big Tech.

With third-party cookies scheduled to disappear from all major browsers by 2022, how can advertisers continue ensuring their campaigns are targeting the right consumers?

The reigning prediction is that one of Big Tech’s own will step in to fill the gap.

Related: Google is Removing ZIP Code Targeting – What Now?

Using Facebook as a Replacement for Cookie Advertising

Even without cookies, there is one platform that already houses an enormous amount of user data, and that’s Facebook. Todd Juneau, CEO of Vujà Dé Digital, explains why:

“In my opinion, Facebook is in the best position to directly benefit from the transition away from third-party cookie data. Facebook can fill the cookie gap by serving as a ‘digital identity’ source. The digital identity will gather the behaviors of users through their embedded login, SDK, and mobile application as data sources in lieu of cookie data. Facebook is ubiquitous with users and in the best position to gather enough share of voice to offer a solution to any gap in a cookie-less environment.” –

This is good news for automotive dealers, as many are already active with Facebook advertising. In addition to Facebook, media management company Nielsen is overhauling its measurement techniques to remove dependency on cookie data. The company is engineering new ways to track viewership and consumer behavior using other sources of data.

Related: How Apple’s New iOS Update Will Affect Digital Marketing

Google Advertising – Contextual vs. Behavioral

The departure of the cookie doesn’t spell the end for Google and other website ad networks. Rather, instead of the behavioral targeting that these ads currently rely on, we will likely see a shift to contextual advertising. For example, if you’re pegged as a golf enthusiast by Google, you may see golf ads anywhere you go online. That’s behavioral targeting. But with contextual advertising, you’ll only see those golf ads when you’re browsing golf-related websites. This is neither good nor bad, but simply a different approach to reaching your buyers.

At Strong Automotive Merchandising, our strategy is to continue monitoring clients’ digital marketing results. Our tracking platforms allow us to analyze campaign performance and make real-time adjustments. If we see a drop-off in results as cookies become less prevalent, we will recommend moving budgets to Facebook or other high-performing mediums to continue driving traffic.

John Paul Strong

John Paul Strong combines his two decades of automotive marketing experience with a team of more than 150 professionals as owner and CEO of Strong Automotive.

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