Audience Targeting Without Third-Party Cookies: Here’s What You Need to Know

Audience Targeting Without Third-Party Cookies: Here’s What You Need to Know

Right after the enactment of landmark consumer privacy laws, Google released an official statement announcing that it intends to phase out third-party cookies

Right after the enactment of landmark consumer privacy laws, Google released an official statement announcing that it intends to phase out third-party cookies on Chrome browsers by 2022. While this is undoubtedly a massive win for conscious users who are cautious of selling their data to advertisers, this might also leave businesses struggling once these cookies vanish. However, these businesses should be a little less panicked and a little more thrilled. The death of third-party cookies is indeed a stumbling block, but it is also a golden opportunity. How? As substitutes to third-party cookies come to light, advertisers may actually come across better audience targeting and acquisition methods.

Third-party cookies have not always been flawless. In fact, their quality was mostly reliant on factors like techniques used by the data provider, data’s recency and latency, and any associated purchase costs. Even though sometimes out-of-date, these prebuilt audiences let advertisers scale their audiences quickly. The approaching cookies phaseout will put pressure on the marketers to reconsider their strategies for accurate audience targeting.


A great starting point for advertisers looking for alternatives to third-party cookies is publisher walled gardens, where publishers exchange free content for first-party data. While such audiences will surely cost you good money, finding publishers with audiences that align with your consumer base heavily will be a possibility. Moreover, since these data sources are usually verified, they are also a useful source of modeling data to utilize as you build your user database.

Nowadays, numerous (if not most) purchases begin with online research. Therefore, savvy marketing professionals have started exploring contextual advertising as an alternative to third-party cookies. Outlining the sales funnel for your products/services will enable you to spot targeted advertising opportunities as your audience carries out research. However, at the same time, being cautious is crucial. Use negative keywords and semantic recognition to stop your business or product from showing up in arguably humiliating or risky placements.

While there is still some time to transition away from your reliance on third-party cookies smoothly, you should not wait to get started anymore. As you search for new ways to communicate your message to the right audiences, here are some strategies that will be a good starting point.


Second-party data (like the kind you get on publisher walled gardens) can provide precise audience targeting for marketers who are in a rush to replace the third-party cookies. Such data can help inform account-based or people-based marketing strategies, enabling you to recognize people in a particular industry or those who have a specific relevant job title. Likewise, combining second-party data with your overall digital marketing strategy can give a solid base for sequential messaging or develop use cases for lookalike modeling.

Nevertheless, since second-party data will be available at an arguably high cost, try to team up with publishers and providers to lower these rates as much as possible in the long run. Plus, as an added advantage, this will allow you plenty of time to test and use different types of data differently.


Mobile Ad ID targeting is based on an anonymous identifier linked with the operating system of a user’s mobile device. These Mobile Advertising Identifiers have always been a go-to option for application targeting. That’s because they are compliant with privacy and act as an incredible way to segment audiences based on their interests and behaviors. As a matter of fact, since mobile and in-app usage expedited, everyone anticipated MAIDs to thrive. Users have increasingly started spending more time on their smartphones compared to other devices, and the majority of this time is spent in-app.

Additionally, MAIDs enable you to track the location data of a user. For example, if a user’s device frequents a cricket stadium, you can deduce that s/he is a cricket fan, allowing you to make a bunch of other conclusions. Moreover, you can also improve MAIDs with offline first-party data, which will let you paint a much clearer picture of the specific user, their demographic data, and relevant interests.

However, bear in mind that the latest updates to Apple’s iOS 14 platform may restrict such targeting on the company’s devices. Apart from this, it is also essential to confirm the accuracy and precision of your location data provider.

Audience Targeting Without Third-Party Cookies: Here’s What You Need to Know


Lookalike modeling or algorithmic targeting got a bad rap from marketers who panicked that the modeled audiences would widen targeting too much. But with the quality of your audience input, the quality of your modeling output also improves. To put it another way – concerns are legitimate only if you are modeling audiences after modeled data.

On the contrary, models can be an incredible source of added insights if you use first-party data. This data originates from all types of sources such as social media channels, surveys and questionnaires, and eCommerce websites with details on user purchase history. Long story short, it is data that you can genuinely trust. This means it can inform the construction of precise audience segments and models that represent actual customer intent. With first-party data in the driving seat, you can build your own indexes and models to support your broad audience targeting efforts.

Deterministic data from consumers and active social media followers typically gives the top source for models. When it comes to audience insights, pay attention to oddities. However, the signals should be powerful enough to suggest the real behavior of your target audience.


Google killing third-party cookies does not mean the demise of all your marketing strategies. You can hope to see various advanced solutions come to light in the next few years that provide audience segmentation with better control for advertisers and better privacy protections for customers. Many companies have already teamed up and are working together to develop unified ID solutions that streamline audience targeting and measurement, if truth be told.

The solutions these companies are developing aim to gather user data (like email addresses) in return for free content. Those email addresses will then be given encrypted IDs that are transferred along the bid stream to advertisers. If publishers broadly embrace unified ID solutions, they will present a great alternative to overdependence on publisher walled gardens.

But scalability will be one of the biggest obstacles for a unified ID solution meaning it will probably not be able to stand on its own for a while.


Once the third-party cookies phase out, it will undoubtedly revolutionize the whole marketing world, but that’s arguably a good thing. These cookies were never meant to become the backbone of digital marketing. Their departure will pave the way for alternatives that might genuinely offer a much better experience for advertisers and the audience they are hoping to target. As advertisers acquire more granular control over who receives their messaging (and when) and consumer data is nestled behind modern encryption and privacy protection tools, there’s not much left to debate about. Clearly, putting that “cookie jar” away is a win-win for all of us! So like we said before, businesses should be less panicked and more excited as third-party cookies phaseout and welcome the new, exciting opportunities for audience targeting.

Hariom Balhara is an inventive person who has been doing intensive research in particular topics and writing blogs and articles for Tireless IT Services. Tireless IT Services is a Digital Marketing, SEO, SMO, PPC and Web Development company that comes with massive experiences. We specialize in digital marketing, Web Designing and development, graphic design, and a lot more.

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