Cookieless tracking: Why we are heading for a cookieless future and 5 tips to prepare

The ways brands use and track consumer data are under a white-hot spotlight. Once, data attribution and consumer identifiers were easy to come by. Now, data privacy has taken center stage, making it more difficult for marketers to deliver on their directives of personalized experiences for every customer. 

In June 2021, Apple announced a Mail Privacy Protection (MPP) feature to allow users to mask their email open rates and device usage. This is a prime example of how ad targeting is being directly affected by privacy concerns. 

Because of such updates, marketers are having to change the way they collect relevant data to personalize their campaigns and user experiences. Third-party data is no longer the bedrock of digital advertising. 

This means marketers have to find creative new ways to optimize their messaging, reach their ideal customers, and capture revenue.

Welcome to the cookieless future.

What does cookieless mean?

Cookieless tracking refers to a company’s ability to track users’ online activity without relying on third-party cookies. 

Cookies are small pieces of data sent from a website and stored in a user’s web browser while the user is browsing the site. Cookies enable companies to track people’s online activity, such as which pages they visit, how long they spend on the site, search queries, what they click on, and even more private information that can be used for targeted marketing purposes. 

Thanks to privacy and data security concerns coming to light, many people have become more aware of the potential risks associated with cookie-based tracking—especially third-party cookies. This has led to an increased demand for more private, secure options. As a result, we’re seeing an increase in companies moving toward cookieless tracking. 

Cookieless tracking relies on other technologies, such as scripts that run when a user visits a web page. That information is then sent to a storage server rather than being stored in cookies. 

Though different, this kind of tracking doesn’t come without its benefits. Because cookieless tracking is less dependent on third-party data, it is a more secure and reliable way for companies to track users’ online activity. 

It also enables companies to track users across multiple devices and platforms, allowing them to build more comprehensive user profiles. Cookieless tracking also helps companies comply with new privacy regulations, providing a better experience for users.


The reality of a cookieless future is imminent. How are you preparing your clients for it?

Watch a discussion on how to help your clients adapt and thrive in a cookieless world. Gain practical insights on how to speak to client needs for managing and activating customer data. 

Watch today.


The impact of a cookieless future

The end of tracking with third-party cookies will have a major impact on the digital marketing industry, as well as a slew of other industries that rely on tracking user activity to grow their revenues.

How specifically will the cookieless tracking trend affect the marketing industry? We see six major areas of impact:

1. Development of new strategies

Marketers will need to develop new strategies for targeting audiences, gathering insights, and understanding the performance of their campaigns.

2. Budget allocation

New measurement strategies mean marketers will need to reallocate funds as they transition away from cookie-based analytics. Additional spending may also be required in the short term to bring together the teams who can plan and implement these strategies.

3. Additional involvement of IT teams

This shift in tracking will require more input from IT teams in order to successfully structure new cookieless tracking solutions.

4. Greater reliance on contextual targeting

Cookieless tracking will lead to an increase in contextual targeting. Marketers will have to develop a deeper understanding of their target audiences and their online behaviors. It will no longer be enough to build customer profiles based on basic cookie-supported data. 

5. Prioritization of data privacy

With the increasing focus on privacy, marketers will need to prioritize data privacy as they update their tracking practices to comply with regulations such as the GDPR. 

6. Growing need for cross-device tracking

With cookieless tracking, marketers will need to invest in cross-device solutions in order to accurately track user activity. 

With a robust customer data platform (CDP), you can gather data from across devices and platforms to create unified customer profiles and create sophisticated audience segments that sync to all the places you engage with your customers.

How will cookieless targeting affect the customer experience?

A cookieless strategy can be great for the customer experience in a number of ways. For one, using first-party data—that is, data provided directly by customers—allows companies to target customers with more personalized and relevant offers that they’ll actually be interested in receiving. 

Additionally, cookieless tracking is more secure and transparent than traditional cookie-based tracking, which means customers can better trust the companies they are dealing with.

Finally, cookieless tracking can help companies align with new privacy regulations, ensuring that marketing data is handled in a way that is both ethical and compliant.

A note on cookieless targeting and first- and third-party data

First-party data is data collected directly from the customer, such as user name, email, and survey responses. Third-party data is collected from external sources, such as data brokers.

Cookieless strategies can be used to target users without requiring the use of third-party data. This means that companies can use sophisticated targeting methods without sacrificing privacy or security, as the data is not shared with any external sources.

How can marketers prepare for a cookieless world?

As the cookie-based tracking model becomes obsolete, the collective approach to digital marketing will go through its own evolution. Marketers who want to stay ahead of the curve should start preparing for the cookieless future now. 

Here are a few tips to help you get started:

  1. Understand the different technologies. Familiarize yourself with the different cookieless tracking technologies available—essentially first-party data tracking—like through point-of-sale systems or email marketing efforts. 
  2. Identify the most suitable tracking solutions for your business. Evaluate different tracking solutions to determine which ones will provide the best results for your business.
  3. Have a comprehensive user privacy policy. Make sure your privacy policy is comprehensive, covering all the data you collect and how you use it.
  4. Educate your team on cookieless tracking. Ensure your team is educated on alternative tracking technologies and how to use them.
  5. Re-evaluate your marketing strategies. Consider how cookieless tracking could influence your marketing strategies and adjust accordingly.

By understanding and preparing for the cookieless future, marketers can ensure they remain competitive in the digital marketing landscape without sacrificing revenue or slowing down growth.


Cookieless targeting strategies

Believe it or not, cookieless targeting strategies can be more precise and effective than cookie-based targeting.

Here are a few targeting strategies that work without the use of cookies: 

  • Offline data targeting: This means using offline data, such as purchase history from your customer relationship management platform (CRM) or CDP, to target your customers with relevant ads.
  • Contextual targeting: This is when contextual data, such as the type of content being viewed, is used to target users with relevant ads.
  • Geotargeting: Geotargeting employs users’ location data to target them with location-specific ads.
  • Device targeting: With this type of targeting, users’ device-specific data—such as device type and operating system—is used to deliver them relevant ads.

By using cookieless targeting strategies, marketers can ensure their campaigns successfully reach the most relevant users. 

But how do you actually implement these strategies?

Cookieless tracking with the Simon CDP

Simon Data offers a comprehensive customer data platform that helps marketers track, store, and analyze customer data without relying on cookies. 

With Simon, you can gather customer data from across various platforms and touchpoints and combine it into a single, unified customer profile. With all the data in one place, it’s easier to understand your customers and create better, more granular audience segments. This means you can create more personalized, secure customer experiences—all without using third-party cookies. Simon also enables marketers to comply with new privacy regulations, such as the GDPR, ensuring all your customer data is handled in a legal and ethical manner.

Learn how Simon Data can help support a cookieless paid media strategy

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