Digital Marketing in a Cookieless World



There’s a fairy tale where the moral of the story is simple: Don’t kill the goose that lays the golden egg. But, we may be witnessing the high-tech version of what happens when you ignore that advice.

Since 1994, the wheels of e-commerce have been greased by tracking what websites you visit. Consumers have grumbled about their data being collected, but the result has been highly targeted ads, offers, and suggestions that appeal to likely buyers. Businesses thrive and billions of ad dollars are linked to so-called tracking “cookies.”

Since 2018, though, the European Union’s General Data Protection Regulation – GDPR – prohibits companies (including those in the US) from collecting personal data from EU residents without their express permission…including from web cookies and other data gathering tech and techniques. And soon, California residents can tell companies not to use their data for marketing – a move that is already prompting calls for similar consumer rights for all US residents. 

What’s a sales and marketing team to do when you have less consumer data to fuel your lead generation engine. The BBB National Programs’ >Better Series visited with Pete Spande, the Publisher of Business Insider and Dave Grimaldi, Executive Vice President of the Interactive Advertising Bureau to find out.

Spande, who calls the changes in digital marketing “Cookiepocalyse,” recommends businesses plan now for what to do when they can no longer rely on third-party consumer data. “The 3rd party cookie may continue to limp along, but, in many respects, it has already been diminished by browser changes made by Apple and Mozilla.”

Spande also points out that the value of 3rd party data has come into question, citing a recent case study where 3rd data promoted as targeting women included was actually 48% men. One preferred solution is to move to 1st person data you collect with permission from a person.

Meanwhile, IAB has proposed a technical replacement for tracking cookies to help businesses continue to operate digital marketing campaigns in a consent-based way that protects consumer privacy. The IAB’s Grimaldi says the current environment where businesses cannot afford to comply is not “indicative of a good privacy policy. That’s not indicative of a policy that helps consumers and businesses and innovation all equally.”

If you want to learn more about how to adjust your marketing practices to include consumer consent, listen to the >Better Series episode Marketing in a Consumer Consent World. You can listen to all of the BBB National Programs’ Podcasts at the >Better Series website, on the Apple Podcast app, or your favorite streaming platform.