A cookieless future, consent management and the social dilemma – what marketers need to know

Claude Schuler
Digital Marketeer, CRM & Marketing Automation Specialist, BSI

Internet and marketing without cookies – it’s hard to imagine, isn’t it? Yet, the transition is already in full swing. Although 60% of today’s use cases still depend on third-party cookies for personalization, these cookies will be phased out starting in 2023.

Key points

● Legal requirements and a groundbreaking decision by Google herald the end of third-party cookies.

● Yet, tracking is not a thing of the past: Other technologies are replacing the doomed cookie and offer new advantages.

● One of these advantages: Without legally compliant cookie consent banners, the bounce rate decreases, while at the same time, customer trust and data quality become increasingly important.

Google ushers in a cookieless future

A future without cookies or, in short, a cookieless future was considered a pie in the sky for a long time. Yet starting in 2023, it will gradually become a reality. There are countless reasons for this. Legal framework requirements such as the EU’s ePrivacy Directive are a driving force behind this development – companies must already allow users to reject cookies.

By the same token, the Universal Analytics property will be replaced by Google Analytics 4 (GA4) in mid-2023, which, along with sophisticated machine learning and other advanced analytics functions, will also facilitate cookieless tracking.

Let’s recall that third-party cookies are small text files stored on your device when you visit a website, allowing third-party providers – not website operators – to collect user behavior information and use it for targeted marketing.

Considering that 92% of financial service providers and 82% of retailers use third-party data (Adobe, 2020) – what will a future without third-party cookies look like? How will marketers manage in a cookieless future?

There is a clear need for action: Only 40% of consumers feel they have control over how companies use their personal data (s).

How does cookieless tracking work?

One thing is clear: Consent management will change, and the requirements for relevant platforms are changing. To allow marketers to access data that benefits their ad management despite the changes, there will be cookieless tracking. Various technologies such as Universal ID or Unified ID are already available.

One of the great advantages of tracking without cookies is the absence of the often bothersome cookie or consent banners because no cookies are set. This helps keep visitors on your website longer. Without a consent banner, the bounce rate is as low as 50%, according to a study, while it is up to 66% (etracker, 2021) with legally compliant queries with banners. The same study found that 86% of homepage sessions can essentially not even be captured with legally compliant cookie tracking.

What role do customer trust and data quality play?

In this context, the focus is increasingly shifting to so-called zero-party data, which is information your customers share with you intentionally and proactively, for example, in the context of sweepstakes – full transparency instead of cryptic cookies or confusing data consent declarations.

This transparency positively impacts customer trust, and the data is particularly valuable. Why? Since customers provide the data deliberately, it is solid data, and its quality is first-rate, enabling marketers to use it for targeted work.

Particularly interesting: 80% of consumers are concerned about potential data misuse – yet 93% of them have shared sensitive data with companies (Ispos / Google, 2021).

Tips: How to respond to the death of the cookie

Although cookies will soon be gone, you can already set the course now and prepare for a cookieless future to ensure you won’t suddenly be faced with a dataless shipwreck. Here are some suggestions:

  1. Analyze your current situation: To what degree do you depend on cookies? Are you using first- and/or third-party cookies? Identify the status quo to determine how much you depend on third-party cookies.
  2. Conduct customer surveys: Don’t wait for the perfect alternative to third-party cookies. Ask your customers for relevant data yourself.
  3. Use alternatives such as ID tracking: There are already a handful of alternatives to the doomed cookie. For example, you can use ID tracking, which is based on the login to different platforms and does not require a separate personal data processing consent.

It won’t be easy to transition away from cookies and toward other technologies. Yet, you don’t need to have sleepless nights because of it.

Conclusion: Consent management in transition

The end of the cookie does not mean the end of tracking. However, the methodology will change, and there will be more emphasis on previously less important factors such as data quality and customer trust. We are partial to this development at BSI, as these two topics are a perfect fit for our CRM philosophy.

Visitors to your homepage want to encounter a trustful digital environment where they like to stay – rather than cryptic consent banners. The reward you get is useful and, above all, real data, which, in turn, benefits your marketing.

Are you interested in data management and a world without cookies? At BSI, we develop state-of-the-art banking, retail and insurance solutions.

We look forward to hearing from you.

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