The demise of third-party cookies

What does the disappearance of third-party cookies mean for marketers?

Privacy remains a hot topic for email senders, especially marketers. As the demand for relevant and personalized email grows in 2022, so will the barriers to collecting the actionable data needed to meet that demand. The loss of third-party cookies next year is the start of a paradigm shift that will continue to push marketers to rethink data collection.

This phase-out of third-party cookies has been one of the more predictable trends in digital marketing in recent years. Although Apple (Safari) and Mozilla (Firefox) have already blocked third-party cookies, Google’s announcement marked a significant milestone for marketers. With its dominant market share, Google’s decision to advertise online will fundamentally change, with brands, agencies and martech vendors now struggling to figure out how to adapt.

But where one door closes, another door opens. By reducing their reliance on third-party cookies, marketers will make their own data and channels, such as email, work harder for them. It may be another year before we finally say goodbye to third-party cookies, but in the meantime, there’s a real opportunity for marketers to up their game and lead the way.

What are third-party cookies?

Third party tracking includes data that is not owned by the website you are on – and is used after you leave it. Let’s say you’re on Currys and you look at a camera, and then you go to John Lewis and you see that same camera in an ad in your sidebar. This is a third party cookie that tracks your internet habits. Firefox and Safari no longer support third-party tracking, and Google has announced they will follow suit with plans to end third-party cookies by 2023.

The impact of the disappearance of third-party cookies can be remarkable. Eliminating large amounts of third-party data means a limited number of platforms where ad data can converge; make tech giants even more powerful. This is an opportunity for anyone drawing an audience to their website to look at creating better profiles that drive loyalty and engagement over the longer term.

What does the disappearance of third-party cookies mean for marketers?

With huge changes ahead, marketers must adapt the way they interact with customers, which means making major changes to the way they’ve worked for years.

Email marketers have long understood the importance of the long-term strategy to build profiles and make data work more effectively. The humble, simple email is actually not that simple. In fact, it is one of the most worthy weapons in our daily battle against competitors.

While it remains easy to use and is certainly one of the most cost-effective communication methods, it has significant commercial value that translates into positive results for strategic business KPIs – such as customer satisfaction, customer loyalty and repeat purchases.

The disappearance of third-party cookies highlights the importance of zero- and first-party data for marketers. Now is the time for marketers to hone these aspects and ensure they have a strategy in place that capitalizes on these previously overlooked data collection methods. In the ever-changing privacy landscape, it will become increasingly complex to access third-party and third-party data. First-party and zero-party data will become the gold standard.

Email marketers are in a position to take the lead in motivating their organization to see the benefits of an incremental investment in email and the martech ecosystem.

Why is email the secret weapon for success in a post-cookie world?

Email provides a hefty return on investment and can also lead to long-term revenue, but only if it gets the attention and investment it deserves. Email has evolved in value and importance and can affect your relationship with your customers. No matter how thoroughly your loyalty programs are designed and executed; if your customers feel unappreciated and valued when they feel ignored or misinformed, they will look for alternatives. They look at your competition.

Of course, email can be the glue between consumers and brands. Everything from promotions to educational content to retargeting can all be done with your most valuable first-party data asset: email. It is for this reason that marketers need to refocus on email and other channels powered by zero- and first-party data. Brands need to know their audiences as best as they can, but much better to work with consumers to create better profiles that drive loyalty and engagement in the longer term.

What’s important is that marketers are willing to change the way they use data to continue to provide customers with a highly personalized experience that respects their right to privacy. These changes require brands to remain customer-centric at all times and always think about how to make processes and experiences better and more personal.

The demise of third-party cookies puts a tailwind behind channels that use first-party data – email is the most pervasive channel using the data. Now is the time to evangelize that retention is the new asset. We should all get ready to invest more in email and SMS because ownership data is about to be more valuable than ever.

SparkPost is the industry’s most trusted email sending and optimization platform. SparkPost reliably helps senders reach the inbox with powerful solutions to help them plan, run, and optimize their email programs. The SparkPost platform is powered by the industry’s largest data network, a team of email experts to help brands improve every aspect of their email program, and a security and compliance stance to support even the most regulated industries. SparkPost is the world’s largest sender, delivering nearly 40% of all commercial email—more than 6 trillion shipments per year—and also features the the world’s largest data footprint to help enterprise-level brands make data-driven decisions to improve their email performance. The world’s most advanced senders, including The New York Times, Zillow, Adobe and trust SparkPost to improve their email. More information on or connect via Twitter, LinkedIn or the SparkPost blog. SparkPost is a MessageBird company.


April Mullen is a proven marketing leader currently focusing on brand and content marketing at SparkPost, a MessageBird company. With 15 years of experience on the agency, martech and brand side of marketing, she understands the complexities and challenges marketers face.

April is a passionate advocate for helping and guiding others. She is always willing to offer advice for a conference call or to discuss career decisions. Because of her love of helping others, April co-founded Women of Email, an organization with more than 6,000 members on six continents focused on driving positive change within the industry and professional growth for women in digital marketing. She has been published in industry publications and is a regular speaker at conferences and webinars. Mullen was named to DMNews’ 40 Under 40 list in 2018 and DMNews’ 2019 Marketing Hall of Femme Women to Watch list.

Get in Touch

Related Articles

Get in Touch


Latest Posts