For the uninitiated, the ‘cookie apocalypse’  isn’t about the Room 101 removal from existence of those soft-baked yummy dough creations that giant blue characters from famous kids programmes (and hungry real people like you and I) know and love. (Phew!)

But it is dramatic and important for the experience of everyday Internet users and in particular for marketeers!

That’s because, despite a few hiccups and delays along the way, Google (following in the steps of Apple’s Safari and Mozilla’s Firefox browsers) have finally pushed ahead with their announcement to remove third-party “cookies” (those little bits of code that record our behaviour and interactions on websites) and cross-site and cross-app tracking (monitoring our behaviour and interactions across multiple touchpoints) from their Chrome browser.

Since the three browsers together represent the way 88% of people access the Internet worldwide, this is a hammer-blow to the online advertising industry who rely on 1) reliable attribution of eyeballs (impressions) and actions (clicks) to measure the ROI (return-on-investment) of their marketing spend, and 2) the personalised information provided by these cookies to serve “relevant” ads to those users (think about those random adverts from Amazon for ‘C Batteries’ after you’ve Googled “square shaped battery” … having forgotten the name again).

Without reliable attribution and relevant ads, the old adage “half the money I spend on advertising is wasted; the trouble is I don’t know which half” rears its ugly head (in beautiful irony, it is unclear who to attribute this adage to…

That’s The Way The (Third Party Tracking) Cookie Crumbles

Google has put their flag in the sand of the post-cookie world by launching a ‘Privacy Sandbox’. It is still in development but the intent is to square the circle by limiting the way personal information is collected via sites and apps; building “new standards” of internet privacy with the industry (a vague, but laudable, ambition); and, finally, provision of “privacy-preserving alternatives” to the ‘free resources/services for your data’ Pax Google that so many Internet users have become used to and relied upon.

Yet, those tools are still in development, and concerns have already been expressed that they won’t give the reach and ability to deliver relevant ads as effectively as before. Conversion rates are widely expected to fall, as third party cookie tracking is banned.

Marketers are therefore entering a brave new cookieless world and the time is ripe for getting their hands dirty with the zero and first-party data they already have at their fingertips.

iota-ML invited an expert guest contributor Arun Nair to share his thoughts on leveraging this zero and third party data.

Arun emphasised the need to ensure that marketers capture and sweat every possible data point, but critically also to take advantage of huge leaps in martech to sidestep the “end of web tracking” challenge. 

New thinking and bravery in the use of zero and first party data are needed, supported by the huge advances in machine learning technology and techniques in the decades since the first cookie was “baked” into a website.

Marketers need to be building a 360-degree view of their customers. 

One approach can be through identifying look-alike audiences in their datasets (this is something that PREDICT delivers).

Alternatively, there are ways and means to spot opportunities to increase targeted marketing conversion by delivering hyper-relevant campaigns.

What are hyper-relevant campaigns? 

These are any sort of marketing outreach or “tests” built on a deeper understanding of individual users’ preferred content and media. 

This is leveraging the power of machine learning by modelling the impact (user reaction) to these tests so you can send smaller, more frequent, more relevant campaigns that deliver better results. Read more about how UPLIFT delivers that here

Keen to know how you can use your zero and first party data more effectively in the post-cookie age? 

Reach out to our MD and data superhero, John (, to explore how we might help.