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How Intent Data is Sourced in a Cookieless World

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Jenny Linder

In the interest of moving towards a more secure and private web, Google plans to phase out third-party cookies by late 2023. The search giant is currently testing alternatives to third-party cookies while granting websites sufficient time to migrate their services. This initiative, called Privacy Sandbox, brings with it potentially far-reaching consequences for the ad-tech sector and how we interact with the internet as a whole.

What is happening to cookies?

First, let’s start with the basics. A cookie is a small amount of data generated by a website and stored on a user’s computer by their web browser. It is used to identify users and track their browsing activity – insights gleaned from this data are then used to give site owners insight into user behaviour, using platforms such as Google Analytics, as well as to create targeted ads and a more personalised online experience.

Cookies are a good way to source data and build user profiles, with third-party cookies – cookies created and tracked by websites other than a company’s proprietary website – an important part of digital advertising. But with browsing platforms and companies like Google slowly moving towards eliminating third-party cookies altogether, marketers will have to come up with new ways to gain consumer insights and reach their target audiences.

Why are third-party cookies being phased out?

Privacy has come to the fore in recent years, with users demanding transparency, choice and control over who tracks their online behaviour and how their data is used. As a result, regulators have pushed for more privacy-preserving laws. One of the main concerns raised is how publishers and advertisers have followed data practices or relied on technology, specifically cookies and tracking, in ways that void user trust.

In an attempt to regain this, Google has said that in 2023 it will remove third-party cookies and replace them with a set of open standards to enhance privacy. This means two things: a lot of online behavioural and intent data will be lost; and marketers will have to change their advertising strategies significantly.

What’s next for intent data?

While phasing out third-party cookies will likely lead to short-term pain, there is a general consensus that an approach that is privacy-driven will win back trust with audiences.

As a priority, marketers should look to collect first-party cookies – which remain unaffected by data-privacy regulations. This is data collected directly from visitors to your website, and though it might be indicative of users on the end stage of their buying journey, it is still an important part of the overall data mix.

It is also important to remember that publishers like TechTarget or G2, who own large networks of websites, will retain their first-party cookies and continue to source intent signals. This means that those intent data providers who work in partnership with publishers will still be able to provide valuable insights into account behaviours, while remaining data compliant and following excellent data-privacy practices.

How accurate will intent data be without cookies?

Cyance is working with a number of identity-resolution companies, publishers and display-advertising platforms to build audiences that are not cookie-based but instead synced with a unique universal identifier. We view this as the best way forward in order to guarantee transparency and data privacy.

There is a likelihood that the volume of data will reduce as a result of this shift, but the quality or value will grow as the method for identifying prospective accounts improves.

And with a focus on customisation and an ability to pinpoint surging intent, Cyance will continue to offer data-driven insights that more accurately identify buying signals – at different stages of the buying journey – resulting in better conversion, stronger pipelines and greater ROI.

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