Reminder: Third-Party Data is Fading Out

With all the shifts and disruptions that have taken place on the worldwide web in recent times, one major change that received a lot of coverage a couple of years ago may have been overlooked: The eventual elimination of third-party data.

Changes and still more changes

Yes, the last several years—and next year—will likely go down in history as the era that changed the rules for online users throughout the world. Consider:

  • On July 1st, after far-in-advance notification, Google made good on its promise to phase out its long-standing Universal Analytics (UA) with the improved Google Analytics 4 (GA4). The differences in these two systems were great, and users had a wide learning curve to adapt to in transitioning from one to the other.

  • Since last December until today, the rapid rise of artificial intelligence (AI) and how it is revolutionizing how we live and work has been in the headlines nearly every week. Most recently, an executive order on the use of this technology is being discussed at the White House.

With the dramatic developments listed above, it’s understandable that many would forget that other significant change from Google, which is the discontinuation of third-party tracking (i.e., cookies), the often-used method by marketers for targeting potential customers. Nevertheless, this change will happen. The question is: When?

The last days of third-party data

The shift will be gradual and take place in stages. When Google first announced this change in 2021, the predicted final curtain for third-party data was for the latter part of this year. As noted in CMS Wire, however, Google’s current plan is to phase out third-party data among one percent of Chrome users within the first quarter of 2024, and fully complete the process for all users during the second half of that year. Regardless of how long this change takes place, it is happening, and marketers must be prepared.

Goodbye third-party data, and hello first-party data

First-party data has taken the lead in the future of connecting brands to customers—and rightfully so. Through first-party data, marketers are able to establish transparent and stronger connections with customers who have a genuine need or desire for the goods or services of a particular brand. And respect for customer privacy—the reason behind the elimination of third-party data—is a top priority. Through the honesty of marketing via first-party data, brands, marketers, and customers all stand to benefit.

Plan ahead for first-party data for healthy returns

A recent Fast Company article listed the changeover from third-to-first-party data as the second most important digital trend predicted to take place in 2024. Referring to third-party strategies as the “Wild West” of digital marketing, author Andrew Becks points out that those who have already taken the initiative to develop first-party practices—such as newsletters and subscription offerings, among other methods—will be well-rewarded next year. Marketers who have yet to embrace first-party data, on the other hand, can expect to struggle and scramble. (This practically parallels the early adopters of GA4 in contrast to the stragglers who wound up working furiously to catch up to that new system.)

If your brand or business has relied on third-party marketing and you have questions about how to switch over to first-party, get in touch with EGC. We can help you develop a healthy, transparent strategy through first-party data that will put your brand in first place among potential customers.