Last, week Affiverse CEO Lee-Ann Johnstone sat down with Cellxpert Founder Assaf Dor to discuss the impact that third-party cookie deprecation will have on the affiliate marketing industry. You can listen to the webinar above, and we’ve recapped some of the key points below.
Succeeding as a business in this ever-shifting digital landscape means being able to effectively adapt to these changes while minimising the disruption they can cause.
The deprecation of third-party cookies has been in the pipeline for some time, but now finally looks set to become a reality. How will this affect the affiliate marketing industry and how can affiliates and program managers adapt to a cookie-less world? Let’s find out.
What are Cookies?
Cookies are small packets of data that are used to identify and track internet users. Cookies come in various forms, and each is used for different purposes. You are most commonly going to come across first-party and third-party cookies.
First-party cookies are used by individual websites and are used to store things like login information, language preferences and personal settings. With first-party cookies, user preferences and information are stored for the next time they visit, improving and streamlining the user experience.
Third-party cookies are a little different. While these are also used to store user information, they do not originate from the website a user is visiting. Instead, third-party cookies come from other websites and are used primarily for advertising and marketing purposes. Businesses can use third-party cookies to collect information about consumers and then deliver targeted adverts.
Third-party cookies have been integral to digital marketing for a number of years. However, in 2020 Google announced that it would be phasing out the use of third-party cookies, a process known as cookie deprecation.
Google is doing so partly as a result of privacy concerns surrounding third-party cookies and intends to provide an alternative solution that won’t carry the same security risks.
When Will Third-Party Cookies Be Phased Out?
It’s been nearly four years since Google announced plans to phase out third-party cookies. Given the scale of the task at hand, it’s unsurprising that there have been delays. Google wants to ensure that the deprecation will cause as little disruption as possible, and so has been careful not to roll out changes too quickly.
If all goes to plan, third-party cookies will be completely phased out for Google Chrome users by Q3 2024. Before then, depreciation will be rolled out on a smaller scale to iron out any potential issues that may arise.
The end of third-party cookies will have far-reaching consequences, particularly for the affiliate marketing industry. Let’s take a closer look at how affiliates and affiliate program managers can prepare for life without third-party cookies.
What Should Affiliates and Publishers Do?
According to Assaf, almost all tracking relies on the use of third-party cookies. He went on to cite an IAB study which revealed that up to as much as 51% of affiliate marketers today are still using third-party cookies.
Given that their use is so widespread, it’s clear that the imminent cookie deprecation will have a serious impact on affiliate marketers. What should affiliates and publishers do to ensure are ready to operate without third-party cookies?
First and foremost, affiliates need to stay informed and ensure they are up-to-date with the latest developments. Attend webinars and follow industry-specific blogs like the one here at Affiverse to stay on top of the latest third-party cookie news.
Next, you need to review and evaluate your traffic sources. What other channels can be leveraged to cut back on third-party cookie dependency? Assess your SEO and content strategies and work to prioritise alternative traffic channels.
You’re also going to need to find ways of collecting user data without the use of third-party cookies. The key here is using first-party methods; implement data capture campaigns with consent forms for all visitors to your platform to build up a database of first-party user information. In doing so, you will address gaps created by the loss of third-party cookie data.
Finally, affiliates and publishers should look into data integration solutions and server-side tracking. With these techniques, you will be able to track user data while adhering to new regulatory standards.
What Should Affiliate Program Managers Do?
It’s not just affiliates and publishers that will be affected by third-party cookie deprecation, affiliate programs will as well. For affiliate program managers, being prepared is absolutely critical and will prevent potentially significant revenue loss.
Communication is key here. Program managers need to hold discussions with affiliates and partners to ensure they are all aware of the changes and refocus their strategies accordingly. It’s crucial that the terms and conditions of your programs are updated ahead of the incoming changes. If not, you run the risk of partners breaching new regulations, which could have serious consequences for your business.
Segmenting your program and diversifying the type of partners you onboard will also be important. Take steps to forge relationships with partners who are already leveraging first-party data, such as email marketers, SEO marketers and paid media marketers. This could involve a complete restructuring of your program, which is why taking action now is so important.
The deprecation of third-party cookies will have a huge impact on the digital economy. If you are a publisher or an affiliate program manager, being prepared is vital. Use the tips in this guide to get ready for a world without third-party cookies and be sure to listen back to our webinar for more unmissable insights and guidance.