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The End of an Era: Google is Finally Killing Cookies

And that’s how the cookie crumbles. Last Thursday marked a significant milestone in the evolution of digital privacy as Google began testing what the web will look like without third-party tracking cookies. Third-party cookies have been criticised for privacy violations, with browsers like Firefox and Safari already placing limitations on them. Google Chrome, which represents about 65% of all internet traffic, is now following suit. The test targeted 1% of Chrome browser users (around 30 million people) and will continue to be rolled out in phases. By the end of 2024, Google plans to completely phase out support for third-party cookies in Chrome and replace them with alternative technologies that put a stronger emphasis on consumer privacy. For marketers, this signals a seismic shift in how they approach online advertising and track user engagement.

Understanding Cookies: The Basics

For the uninitiated, a cookie is essentially a small text file stored on your browser. It’s like a digital fingerprint that’s unique to your browsing sessions. When you visit a website, that website checks if your browser has stored an associated cookie which can then be used to retrieve information about your online activities.

There are two types of cookies: first-party and third-party. First-party cookies are generated by the website you’re visiting and are useful for things like remembering login details or items in your shopping cart. This batch is widely accepted and will remain in use for the foreseeable future.

The Target: Third-Party Cookies

The major change for marketers is the displacement of third-party cookies, which are generated by domains other than the one you’re currently visiting. They track your online behaviour across the websites you visit and enable advertisers to build detailed profiles for targeted marketing. While Google’s elimination of third-party cookies is lauded by privacy advocates, this move will create a major disruption to the traditional frameworks and practices within the digital advertising and marketing industry.

Why This is a Big Deal for Marketers

For years, digital marketing has heavily relied on third-party cookies and there’s a widespread concern that marketers, ad-tech companies, and web publishers are ill prepared for this transition. Here to now cookies have been integral to ad targeting, personalisation, and retargeting, and the foundation of the industry has leaned on the infrastructure, processes, and capabilities built around them.

Google’s decision to phase out these cookies means marketers must rethink and restructure their approach, which means abandoning some of the core strategies they’ve deployed for years.

Google’s planned full ban on cookies, which will go into effect later this year, coincides with the holiday shopping season and could have a severe impact on retailers.

Looking Ahead

Google’s proposed replacement for third-party cookies, Topics, has yielded mixed results and leaves many companies tepid about the transition. These new technologies are largely untested, which could signal some bumps in the road ahead for marketers. One thing is for certain however, the post-cookie era will demand innovation and adaptability as the industry lurches into the future.

Google’s move will undoubtably pave the way for more privacy-conscious advertising technologies and restitch the fabric of digital marketing. It’s clear that a flexibile mindset and willingness to adapt will set apart those marketers who are poised for long-term success.

Zeta is Helping Marketers Thrive in a Cookieless Environment

For the past 12 years, Zeta has invested in building a leading Identity Resolution solution (IDR) for effective messaging and measurement across devices and channels. Our identity graph is built on the strength and scale of people-based identifiers, backed by permission-based data and insights derived from millions European users. Third-party cookies will be eliminated this year, and Zeta is well positioned to help marketers meet – and exceed – their goals.


A pool of millions of European profiles and billions of digital identifiers create one of the largest deterministic, third-party cookie-free databases in the industry. This deterministic database allows marketers to reach their target audience at scale and personalise messages on an individual level.


Zeta’s AI combines and interprets a wide range of proprietary signals on each profile in our identity graph, in near real time, to build behavioural profiles that accurately predict actions, intent, and brand propensity without depending on third-party cookies. Zeta’s AI automatically optimises campaigns for performance against KPIs, including frequency capping, look-a-like modelling, and retargeting.


Powered by our identity graph, Zeta breaks down channel and device silos to help marketers seamlessly connect with their audiences. Utilising a transparent media mix, Zeta reaches deterministic identities, not third-party cookies, on a 1:1 basis, extended with probabilistic profiles, with a unified look at campaign performance across channels.

If you’re curious about how Zeta is helping marketers understand and navigate a cookieless ecosystem, read our whitepaper. You can also contact your Zeta representative with any questions or concerns.

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To implement these strategies effectively, brands need the right technology and tools to support their personalization efforts. The Zeta Marketing Platform empowers businesses to offer highly tailored experiences driven by AI.
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