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The Best Alternative To Third-Party Cookies

Businesses have been using third-party cookies for years to personalize ads, learn about their audience’s browsing habits, and more. However, Google has announced some big changes that will drastically change the ability to use third-party cookies for marketing purposes.

It’s important that local businesses and marketers have an alternative to third-party cookies that can provide similar benefits. Since Google’s announcement, some marketers have begun searching for new marketing techniques, while others have spoken out against Google’s decision to phase out third-party cookies.

Fortunately, many marketing strategies can provide the same customer information and benefits of third-party cookies. Of all of the options, a comprehensive content strategy, including blogs, social media, email newsletters, video, etc., is the best alternative for third-party cookies.

Content has the ability to help businesses gain an audience, generate qualified leads, and guide followers through the buying process. Keep reading below to learn about Google’s phase-out plans and why content is the best alternative to third-party cookies.

What Are Third-Party Cookies?

Third-party cookies are small files that are stored in consumers’ web browsers when they visit a new website. They are used to track consumer behaviors on your business’ website so that you can personalize their experience each time they visit.

Third-party cookies can gather information such as:

  • Age, gender, and location
  • Past websites visited
  • Time spent on a particular web page

The data collected by third-party cookies has been crucial to marketers. Businesses have been using third-party cookies to learn about their audience’s browsing habits. Therefore, ads can be personalized using the browsing history data gathered by third-party cookies.

For example, if you search for “hardware store near me,” it’s likely that you’ll  start to see ads for local hardware stores.

Third-Party Cookies Are Going Away

Despite the importance of third-party cookies in marketing, Google announced in 2020 that it will phase out the use of third-party cookies. Other browsers had already stopped using third-party cookies. However, Google’s announcement has caused a slight panic for some marketers, since 65% of people use the Google Chrome browser.

The primary reason for the phaseout is to improve consumer privacy. Since consumers have become more concerned about the amount of data they share—both knowingly and unknowingly—Google is taking a step to help consumers feel safer.

Since Google understands the importance that third-party cookies have in marketing, the company has taken time with the transition. Originally, Google planned to complete the transition by 2022, but the deadline for phasing out third-party cookies has been pushed back to the end of 2023.

In sum, Google wants to encourage advertisers to create ethical, effective strategies to continue their success. While there are a few different alternatives to third-party cookies, businesses will benefit the most by creating high-quality, customer-focused content.

Content Is The Best Alternative To Third-Party Cookies

What does the end of third-party cookies mean for owners and operators of local businesses? That you need to find alternative ways to continually learn about and reach your target audience. You will need to rely more on first-party data and on platforms that reach local audiences specifically. Fortunately, there are a few different alternatives to third-party cookies.

In our experience, high-quality content is the best strategy for long-term success in your business. We’ll review a few reasons why you should begin prioritizing content right away.

Content Requires That You Learn About Your Audience

Third-party cookies can provide some basic, quick information about your audience. On the other hand, creating content requires that you dive deeper to understand your audience.

To produce content that your audience finds valuable, you will need to know their pain points, goals, fears, and more. Third-party cookies can’t provide this information, even though it’s so crucial to business success.

Take this opportunity now to learn about your audience. You could start by conducting surveys with existing customers and potential customers. Large-scale surveys can be used to learn basic information from a large number of people. You can also conduct interview-style surveys with a smaller number of people to get more in-depth answers about their pain points, goals, fears, etc.

You should also gather customer data from every department in your business, such as your marketing, sales, and customer service teams. Doing this will help you keep all of your customer data in one place and identify your audience’s frustrations, likes and dislikes, and goals.

Finally, you can learn a lot by listening to social conversations. Pay attention to your audience on social media. What type of content does your audience share, like/dislike, and comment on? What company pages do they follow, tag, etc?

These strategies can tell you more about your audience than third-party cookies will. So take full advantage of the chance to dive deep and understand your audience, and how your brand specifically can help them.

Content Attracts Organic Website Traffic

High-quality content is the best way to attract organic web traffic. Approximately 70% of B2B consumers read blog posts throughout the buying process. If you understand what your audience is looking for, you can consistently create content that answers their questions. When you create relevant content, search engines reward you by improving your rankings on the search engine results pages (SERPs).

There are a few different benefits to gaining organic traffic. First, organic traffic is more likely to lead to conversions. Content is an excellent way to attract qualified leads and guide them through the buying process. Therefore, the more valuable content you have available for your audience, the stronger the relationship you can build.

Second, increased website traffic can still provide you with data through first-party cookies. Since first-party cookies will still be used on Google and other search engines, you can use them to track your audience’s behavior on your website. The difference between first-party cookies and third-party cookies is that first-party cookies will not follow a user to other websites. It only provides the website or app owner with information from the visitor’s behaviors on their pages. Therefore, you will still be able to collect analytics data. The more website traffic you have, the more data you’ll be able to collect.

Fortunately, third-party cookies are not the only way to gather information for your content strategy. You can create a successful SEO content strategy by letting your target audience research guide you. If you combine market research with keyword research, you can get inspiration for content to help you gain website traffic.

Content Builds Followers

Aside from encouraging your website visitors to buy from your business, content can help you build a list of followers. Your list has the potential to help you connect with your audience through an email newsletter, social media interactions, and more.

59% of people say that email newsletters influence their purchasing decisions. Due to GDPR regulations, you must ensure that your followers give their permission to receive your email newsletter. This is an excellent way to make sure your leads are qualified and truly interested in your business.

Once your followers confirm that they want to receive your newsletter, you have a marketing channel to send regular content. If you can create content that your audience likes, an email newsletter can help build authority, trust, and eventually sales with your audience–without relying on third-party cookies.

Other Alternatives to Third-Party Cookies

While content is the best alternative to third-party cookies, there are some other marketing strategies that can also benefit your business. Use the following techniques in combination with a content marketing strategy to get the best results:

  • First-party cookies. These will help track the habits of visitors on your own website or app, unlike third-party cookies, which track customer behavior across multiple websites/apps.
  • Social media ads. As long as you can target your audience with the platform’s ad manager, you still have the ability to reach your audience through demographics, interests, and more.
  • PPC ads. Similar to social media ads, you can tailor your other online ads to your target audience.
  • Market research data. Other companies and organizations compile large amounts of data about different audiences so that small businesses don’t have to conduct large-scale research.

Third-party cookies have been immensely helpful for tailoring ads and learning about audiences. However, you don’t have to miss out on key customer data due to the phase out. Take advantage of these marketing methods to continue achieving your business goals.

Building An Effective Content Strategy As An Alternative to Third-Party Cookies

As we’ve stated, creating content is the best alternative to third-party cookies. There are many steps to creating an effective content strategy. Most, if not all, businesses will benefit from having a content strategy, but you must be able to integrate it with your overall business goals.

You also have to have your target audience defined clearly before you begin creating targeted content. If you create content before doing market research, you could end up discouraging an audience or missing them entirely by not creating the type of content they want. Having a deep understanding of your audience will guide your content strategy.

Once you know what type of content your audience needs and wants, you can choose specific content topics, along with how and when you’ll post that content. Let’s stay with the local hardware store example. Maybe your market research reveals that your audience wants to stay on top of the newest hardware trends and brands. Your content strategy might include a blog, email newsletter and/or regular social media posts about innovative uses for common hardware products, reviews of new brands, and more. This content should provide real value–education, entertainment, problem-solving, etc.–to your audience, rather than simply promoting your store. Additionally, you and your team will need to determine a content schedule that’s sustainable to follow and also consistent for your audience.

How OMG Can Help

With all of these steps, it’s easy to become overwhelmed with planning and implementation marketing strategies that don’t rely on third-party cookies.

Here are just a few ways we can help:

  • Develop and implement a simple, yet comprehensive and lead-focused content and distribution strategy for your company.
  • Promote your content on our owned platforms—local newspapers, online websites, and social media channels.
  • Use our Google Partner status to create lead-driven ads for your business through Google AdWords, and the Google Display Network.
  • Build you an SEO website for your business to help you collect first-party data and measure your success with Google Analytics 4.

To talk more about how your business can continue to gain high-quality leads–without having to rely on third-party cookies–complete the form below. We’ll set up a time to talk and strategize with you!


About O’Rourke Media Group

O’Rourke Media Group operates in six states with a full-service digital agency and 24 publications and hyperlocal websites. Our team of marketing experts specialize in providing customized digital marketing strategies and solutions for any size business and budget. We’re also a hyper-local community news publisher with an engaged audience of print subscribers, digital subscribers, website page views, social media followers, and email newsletters.