January 27, 2023

Prepare for a Cookie-Free Future: A Look at Third-Party Cookies in 2023

This blog post will look at third-party cookies in 2023 and how marketers can prepare for the upcoming shift. We'll talk about the effects of browsing without cookies, new technologies that could replace them, and ways to keep your marketing efforts effective in a world without third-party cookies.

It's hard to imagine a future without cookies, but the truth is that it's coming. As browsers continue to change their privacy policies and shift towards a more cookie-less future, many online marketers wonder how the landscape will change in the coming years.

This blog post will look at third-party cookies in 2023 and how marketers can prepare for the upcoming shift. We'll talk about the effects of browsing without cookies, new technologies that could replace them, and ways to keep your marketing efforts effective in a world without third-party cookies.

What are cookies?

Cookies are small pieces of data sent from a website and stored on your computer or mobile device. They are used to remember your website configuration (e.g., language preferences), login details, and products added to the shopping cart, even after you leave the site. Still, because cookie data is widely used to collect certain pieces of information, it can also be used to carry out advertising processes like behavioral profiling and retargeting.

There are strict data privacy regulations to protect users from having their personal data collected without consent. For example, the General Data Protection Regulation (GDPR), the California Consumer Privacy Act (CCPA), and the California Privacy Rights Act (CPRA) all require websites to get permission from users before collecting or using their personal information. Cookie policies are often available on websites as a way to comply with data privacy laws (see our 2023 privacy law update).

How do cookies work?

When you visit a website, your web browser (such as Google Chrome or Safari) sends a request to the website's server. The server then sends a response, including the cookies set by the website.

Most cookies are harmless and do not pose any security risks. However, some cookies may be used for malicious purposes, such as stealing personal information or conducting cross-site tracking without your consent. Below are the different kinds of cookies:

  • First-party cookies are stored directly by the domain (website) you visit. They allow website owners to collect analytics data, remember language settings, and perform other useful functions that help provide a good user experience.
  • Third-party cookies are created by domains other than the ones you visit directly. They are used for cross-site tracking, retargeting, and ad-serving. A cookie placed by any other site, such as an advertiser or a social media site, is a third-party cookie.

Some websites use pop-up banners to request user consent before setting cookies. Others simply include a notice on their website informing users that cookies will be used and linking to their privacy policy for more information.

What are third-party cookies?

As you may have heard, Google is phasing out support for third-party cookies in Chrome. This means Google Chrome will no longer accept cookies from domains other than the one you are currently visiting.

Third-party cookies are those created by domains other than the one you are visiting and are mainly used for tracking and online advertising purposes. They also allow website owners to provide certain services, such as live chats. Advertising companies have extensively used these cookies to track your online behavior and target your ads.

In addition to a first-party cookie created by the host site, a third-party cookie is also created by ad.doubleclick.net. The reason for a third-party cookie is that the URL (ad.doubleclick.net) has a different domain than the host site. A third-party advertising provider leaves the cookie, hence the name "third-party cookie."

The simplest way third-party cookies can be created is when a currently visited website requests a third-party service. For example, if you visit a website with an embedded YouTube video, YouTube will create a third-party cookie on your computer. Your user information is retrieved from the current website’s database and uploaded to a third-party’s server code.

The phasing out of third-party cookies is a major change for the online advertising industry. Advertising companies can no longer track your behavior across different websites and serve you targeted ads. This could lead to a more privacy-conscious internet where users control their own data.

The history of third-party cookies

Third-party cookies have been around since the early days of the internet. They are small text files placed on your computer by websites you visit. These cookies allow these websites to track your online activity and collect data about you.

The use of third-party cookies has come under scrutiny recently as user privacy concerns have grown. Many internet users do not realize that these cookies are being used to track and collect their data. This has led to calls for stricter privacy laws on the use of third-party cookies.

In January 2020, Google announced that it would be phasing out support for third-party cookies in its Chrome browser within two years. Google’s plan to phase out third-party cookies in Chrome is part of a larger strategy to create a Privacy Sandbox with open standards for tracking users while protecting their privacy. This move will likely have a major impact on third-party cookies, as Chrome is the most popular web browser in the world.

Apple has also introduced Intelligent Tracking Protections, making it impossible to use third-party cookies for cross-site tracking, analytics, or advertising in their browser, Safari. Mozilla followed suit, and Firefox Version 50 (and later) currently offers a Safari-like "intelligent" functionality for blocking unwanted third-party tracking cookies. When Mozilla Firefox blocks tracking domains, a gray shield icon appears in the address bar.

This change will mean that website owners can no longer track website visitors with third-party cookies. They will need to find new ways to collect data about their visitors. This could have a major impact on the way that digital advertising works, as well as other aspects of the internet economy.

The future of third-party cookies

The future of third-party cookies is uncertain. They may be phased out by browsers or continue to exist in some form. After all, millions of internet users are now using ad blockers, which block cookies and other tracking technologies. Therefore, it's important to be prepared for a cookie-less future.

Without the user’s permission, a website should not store such cookies on the user’s browser, as laws like GDPR prohibit such practices. However,

Advertisers use third-party cookies to track people across the web. This allows them to show relevant ads and measure the effectiveness of their campaigns. Without cookies, advertisers would have a harder time showing relevant ads and measuring their success.

Some people believe third-party cookies should be phased out because they invade people's privacy. Others argue that they are necessary for advertising to function effectively online. It's still unclear what will happen with third-party cookies, but it's important to be prepared for a cookie-less future.

How will this affect you?

The end of third-party cookies means that companies will no longer be able to track your online activity without your consent. This change will most likely affect how online advertising is delivered and the types of ads you see.

Some experts believe this change could lead to a more privacy-conscious internet where users are more in control of their data. Others believe this could create new ways for companies to collect data without users’ knowledge or consent.

Either way, the end of third-party cookies will impact how we use the internet. So what does this mean for you?

If you’re concerned about your privacy online, you may want to take steps to limit the amount of data collected about you. This could mean using ad blockers and browser add-ons that stop tracking, or it could mean not clicking on any ads at all.

You may also want to be more selective about the web pages you visit and the information you share online. If a website doesn’t have a privacy policy, or if you don’t feel comfortable with how your data will be used, it might be best to avoid it.

Of course, not everyone is as worried about their privacy online. If you’re not too concerned about being tracked, then the end of third-party cookies probably won’t make much difference to you.

Ultimately, how this change affects you depends on the measures you take to protect your privacy and on how companies adapt to the new environment.

What can you do to prepare?

As we all know, cookies have been a key element in online advertising for many years. However, recent developments have led many to believe that the era of the cookie is coming to an end. Online marketers are worried about this because they use cookies to track how users act and show them ads that are relevant to them.

The good news is that there are steps you can take to prepare for a cookie-less future. Here are a few things you can do:

  1. Get to know your audience.
    If you want to be successful in a cookie-less world, you must understand your audience. Who are they? What do they like? What do they dislike? What motivates them? The more you know about your audience, the easier it will be to reach them without cookies.
  2. Develop other methods of tracking user behavior.
    If cookies are no longer an option for tracking user behavior, you'll need to find other ways. Several methods can be used, including web analytics tools, log files, and server-side tracking codes. Experiment with different methods and see what works best for your needs.
  3. Build a strong relationship with your customers.
    In a cookie-less world, building strong relationships with your customers will be even more important. Ensure you're providing them with valuable content and delivering on your promises. If you can do this, they'll be more likely to return to your site and engage with your brand.
  4. Invest in new technologies.
    It's important to stay up-to-date on the latest trends and technologies related to online marketing. Investing in new technologies can help you stay ahead of the curve and prepare you for a cookie-less future.
  5. Test alternative targeting methods.
    Finally, it's a good idea to start testing out alternative targeting methods now so that you're ready when the time comes. This could include personalization techniques or different forms of contextual targeting. Experiment with different options and see what works best for your audience.


The cookie-less future is almost here, and it's time for marketers to prepare. With the increasing importance of consumer privacy and data security, companies must adapt their strategies to protect user data while understanding the impact on performance. By leveraging tools like first-party cookies or machine learning algorithms, businesses can stay ahead in this ever-changing landscape without sacrificing users’ privacy or ROI. This deliberate approach to transitioning from third-party cookies ensures that the web can continue to thrive without relying on cross-site tracking identifiers or covert techniques like fingerprinting. Third-party cookies may be gone, but smart marketing still exists—it’s just a matter of finding the right solutions for your business!

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