Reading Room Homepage

What’s Next in a Cookieless Future

Istock 520291044

What’s Next in a Cookieless Future

‘Cookieless future’ refers to a noticeable shift in how companies track user behaviour online, moving away from reliance on third-party cookies. Let's break down what this means, how the concept emerged and why it is important.


What is a Cookieless Future 

Website cookies are small data files stored on a user's computer by their browser. They help websites remember information about the visitor, such as login details, preferences, and tracking user behaviour across the web.

A cookieless future means that organisations are moving away from using third-party cookies for tracking purposes due to the growing emphasis on user privacy and security online. Instead, alternative methods for tracking user behaviour and personalising user experiences are currently being developed and implemented. Google, Apple and Firefox already began to move away from third-party cookies.


How Did the Concept of Cookieless Future Emerge 

The move towards a cookie-less future has been driven by increasing concerns over privacy and data protection. Regulatory changes, such as the European Union's General Data Protection Regulation (GDPR) and the California Consumer Privacy Act (CCPA) in the United States, have put restrictions on how personal data can be collected, used, and stored. These regulations have made the use of cookies for tracking purposes more complex for organisations.

Leading tech companies have already initiated measures to restrict cookie usage. Moreover, significant tech firms have made moves to curtail cookie usage. Apple's Safari and Mozilla's Firefox browsers can now automatically block third-party cookies. Similarly, Google intends to discontinue third-party cookie support in Chrome in 2024.


Why It's Important 

While a future without cookies is seen as beneficial for privacy and security, it introduces significant challenges for marketers. Specifically, the shift away from cookies has significant implications for online advertising, website analytics, and user experience personalisation. Cookies have been a foundational tool for tracking user behaviour, targeting ads, and measuring ad performance. The absence of third-party cookies will force businesses to find new ways to target ads, measure their effectiveness, and personalise content.


What’s Next 

  • Cookie Alternatives: Various technologies are being considered to replace cookies, with Google's Privacy Sandbox and The Trade Desk's Unified ID 2.0, being two prominent examples. These initiatives will focus on enabling online advertising by distributing a portion of user's private data without employing third-party cookies.

  • First-Party Data Emphasis: There will be a greater emphasis on collecting and using first-party data—information that companies collect directly from their customers through interactions on their own platforms. This could involve enhancing data gradually through first-party platforms like CRMs, more direct engagement strategies and building stronger customer relationships.

  • Privacy-First Approach: Companies will need to adopt a privacy-first approach, ensuring that they comply with data protection regulations and respect user preferences regarding data collection and use. 

  • Innovation in Personalisation: Marketers will need to be flexible and explore diverse strategies, such as establishing effective data collection methods for targeting and customising marketing efforts toward active users. Moreover, this might involve using machine learning models to make predictions based on limited data or focusing on contextual rather than behavioural targeting.


The move towards a cookieless future is a response to the growing demand for greater privacy and control over personal data. Companies that can adapt to these changes, respect user privacy, and still deliver personalised experiences will be well-positioned for success in the evolving digital landscape.