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Third-party cookies and digital advertising. What do you need to think about in 2021? 

08 Feb 2021

Three concrete tips for digital marketers   

There are many good and practical applications of cookies – something that many of us benefit from on a daily basis, such as when we shop online or placing multiple items in our shopping carts. Cookies are required to remember the items that we add to our shopping cart in case we come back later on using the same browser.   

Cookies have been used in digital advertising for more than 20 years to measure and target digital advertising campaigns, such as to keep track of how many times an ad should be shown to each visitor as well as to target ads at specific visitors. 


This is what changed in terms of cookies during 2020  

The functionality of most browsers has been improved to make it more difficult to track visitors’ surfing habits in order to protect internet users from being tracked. As a result, the ability to target and measure digital advertising campaigns is now weaker. 

This has mainly affected cookies from external parties, known as third-party cookies. This has made it much more difficult for sales companies, agencies, and ad-technology companies to build up cookie profiling on how we use different sites with the aim of targeting digital advertising campaigns at us visitors. Many buyers of ads and agencies have noticed a substantial decrease in the number of third-party cookies available, which is why many have embarked on other forms of targeting digital advertising, such as zip code targeting using demographic data

The GDPR has had a real impact on the digital advertising market. Many people, both sellers and buyers alike, are concerned about what they can and cannot do. The real impact of this is that many are moving away from cookie-targeted advertising in order to avoid any legal repercussions. 

Today, it’s practically only Google’s browser Chrome that supports third-party cookies. It has a market share of around 60 percent. Although even Google has announced that they will switch off third-party cookies within a year or so.   

We’ve received some interesting statistics from one of our ad-tech partners Xandr, which shows just how important third-party cookies are in the digital programmatic ecosystem. When the browser Firefox ended its support for third-party cookies, revenue per ad decreased with 50 percent in just two months, all due to the advertisers’ unwillingness to pay for a non-targetable visitor, which resulted in lower ad prices.  

Source: Xandr DSP  


Three tips on how to optimize your digital ads in 2021  

  1. The since of programmatic advertising doesn’t work as well as it once did as third-party cookies now have a reach of 60 percent. As a buyer, you can shorten your campaigns in order to avoid too high frequency per visitor. Another approach is to time-manage advertisements during the day. 
  2. If you want to reach exactly the right audience, get in touch with a major publicist or broadcaster which has logged-in users. You can target ads at logged-in users and know that you’ve reached the right audience.  
  3. Google and Facebook still offer good targeting as they’re not affected in the same way, as most of their users are logged into one of the services.  Facebook also allows you to upload a list of people to whom you want to target your advertising. With Dun & Bradstreet’s help, you can create custom audience, such as people who live in detached houses in the suburbs or who drive a car. 


Fredrik Strauss  

Global Product Manager, Dun & Bradstreet Digital