Campaign India Team
Jan 4, 2024

When the cookie crumbles: How are marketers gearing up for a cookieless era?

SOUNDING BOARD: Experts explore the strategies digital marketers are employing to survive and thrive in the aftermath of the demise of third-party cookies

When the cookie crumbles: How are marketers gearing up for a cookieless era?

In a move that's destined to disrupt digital marketing as we know it, starting today, 4 January, Google has initiated testing for a cookie-disabling feature in its Chrome browser, set to roll out globally by late 2024. 1% of Chrome users worldwide will be introduced to 'Tracking Protection,' curtailing access to third-party cookies that have long been the backbone of digital marketing strategies.


For years, digital marketers have relied on these snippets of code to deliver personalised ads and ensure seamless user experiences. The impending demise of third-party cookies signals a seismic shift in the industry, as marketers face the prospect of losing vital data, including demographic information and browsing habits of their target audiences. Unprepared businesses could witness significant revenue losses in this new era.


As the clock ticks towards a cookie-less future, pressing questions emerge: How will digital marketers navigate the uncharted waters of consumer targeting without the crutch of third-party cookie data? How will this alter the digital marketing landscape as we know it?


Rubeena Singh, country manager India and MENA, AnyMind Group


In facing the cookie-less future, digital marketers are adopting a multi-faceted approach. Firstly, there's a significant shift towards first-party data collection. This involves leveraging data obtained directly from interactions with customers on their platforms, which ensures both compliance with privacy norms and the ability to tailor more personalised marketing strategies.


Secondly, marketers are increasingly turning to contextual advertising. This method involves placing ads based on the content of a website rather than on user behaviour, thus respecting user privacy while still reaching relevant audiences.


Third, there's a growing reliance on machine learning and artificial intelligence to analyse and predict consumer behaviour through data patterns. These technologies help in understanding customer preferences and needs, even in the absence of personal data.


Lastly, there's an emphasis on building stronger customer relationships through enhanced customer service and engagement. This not only fosters brand loyalty but also provides valuable insights into consumer needs and preferences.


Together, these strategies represent a comprehensive response to the challenge of a cookie-less future, balancing effective marketing with the increasing demand for user privacy. 


Suraj Nambiar, national media head, Tonic Worldwide
To adapt to a cookie-less future, digital marketers are exploring alternatives like first-party data collection, contextual advertising, and privacy-centric targeting methods like Google's Privacy Sandbox APIs. At Tonic Worldwide we already create campaigns where we track user journeys and have clear first-party data segmentation. We also investing in customer relationship management (CRM) systems and utilising machine learning for predictive analytics. Building direct relationships with consumers and focusing on content marketing for engagement are also key strategies to understand and target demographics without relying on third-party cookies.
Digital marketers are also considering unified ID solutions, collaborating in data co-ops, and leveraging advanced segmentation using their own data. They're enhancing user experience to encourage data sharing and employing federated learning of cohorts (FLoC) for grouping users with similar interests. Privacy-first personalisation and consent-based marketing are becoming more critical, as is staying informed about evolving regulations and technology solutions.

Sanjeev Jasani, COO, Cheil India


Savvy digital marketers are already preparing for the post-cookie world in several ways: 

Investing in first-party data: Brands are building robust first-party data ecosystems through loyalty programs, website personalisation tools, and opt-in surveys. This data, owned and controlled by the brand, will be crucial for creating targeted campaigns and measuring their effectiveness.

Focusing on contextual targeting: Understanding the context of an ad placement, such as the website's topic or the user's recent search queries, will become increasingly important in reaching relevant audiences.

Shifting the focus to value and engagement: In a cookieless world, delivering genuine value and creating engaging experiences will be paramount. Content marketing, influencer partnerships, and hyper-personalized ad formats will take centre stage as brands strive to earn their audience's trust and attention.


The second question delves into the broader impact on the landscape. Here are some of the key shifts we can anticipate: 

Emphasis on privacy: The onus will shift from tracking individuals to understanding their interests and preferences within a privacy-conscious framework. Transparency and user control will be paramount.

Rise of contextual targeting: As discussed earlier, context will become the new king. Understanding the intent and environment surrounding an ad will be crucial for delivering relevant messages.

Greater focus on first-party data: Brands that prioritise building strong first-party data relationships will gain a significant advantage in targeting and personalisation.

Evolution of ad formats: We'll see more interactive, immersive, and native ad formats that capture attention without relying on intrusive tracking.

Collaboration and consolidation: The fragmentation of the ad tech landscape may give way to more collaboration and consolidation as players adapt to the new realities.

While the cookie-less future presents challenges, it also holds immense potential for a more ethical, user-centric, and ultimately, more effective way of reaching consumers. Indian marketers, with their inherent adaptability and resourcefulness, are well-positioned to thrive in this evolving landscape. By embracing innovation, prioritising privacy, and focusing on delivering genuine value, Indian advertising can not only survive but also lead the way in this exciting new era.



Anurag Iyer, CEO, Big Bang Social

In the domain of a cookieless future, where privacy and personal choice reign supreme, digital marketers are facing the challenge of attention marketing. The pivotal shift towards dynamic platforms and evolving consumption patterns compels individuals to gravitate towards content from those they admire, follow, or consider authentic. This underscores the enduring relevance of influencer marketing and creators who have cultivated loyal tribes around their authentic communication styles.
In this landscape, the spotlight shines on creators who have remained true to their audience, creating content that resonates and makes a difference. The transition to content-driven commerce gains momentum, and authenticity emerges as the linchpin. Those who craft content with a genuine impact rise to prominence, as the journey from content to commerce takes centre stage.
It would be apt if I put it as, 'In a cookieless era, creativity in content reigns supreme. Influencers and creators, steadfast in their authenticity, become beacons in the digital space. Building tribes of loyal followers, they navigate the attention , proving that content is not just king, but the guiding path to the future of digital marketing. Platforms must reassess algorithms to ensure users see what they find genuinely relevant, announcing the arrival of a new era where connection and creativity steer the course.

Shrenik Gandhi, co-founder and CEO, White Rivers Media


Website cookies may crumble in 2024, ushering in a privacy-focused future for users and digital marketers. These are still early days for advertisers to predict how cookieless marketing will impact them. It entirely depends on how advertisers train themselves to adopt and adapt to the change.

The trade-off is clear for users though: enhanced privacy at the potential cost of personalised experiences. Marketers will likely need to invest in building and analysing first-party data or experiment with new alternatives like contextual targeting. 

Another way to navigate cookieless marketing is by collaborating with brands who have access to first-party cookies. Developing new measurement metrics may also prove to be a game-changer for advertisers in the near future.

Ads might transform from unwanted guests to personalised encounters, and improve online ad-ventures. Success hinges on innovation and trust, but the potential for a win-win future is real.


Shradha Agarwal, co-founder and CEO, Grapes


To navigate the challenges of a cookie-less future, digital marketers are exploring alternative methods to target their consumer demographic effectively. In the absence of this crucial info, most of them are increasingly turning to innovative technologies and approaches, such as advanced data analytics, machine learning, and artificial intelligence.

They hope to provide their target audience with more relevant and personalised content by utilising first-party data and contextual targeting techniques. Instead of cluttering all genre ads on one website, they are focusing on offering more relevant and targeted market experiences to their audience. Additionally, there is a growing emphasis on building direct relationships with consumers, emphasising transparency, seeking consent for data collection, and creating a safe and secure Internet consumer experience altogether.

Take the instance of Meta, the company has been integrating server-side measurement to avail the myriad benefits it has to offer. It immensely allows the enhancement of website performance while augmenting the monetisation possibilities. Likewise, with the help of the implementation, the brands can also overcome the resistance projected by ad blockers and exercise better control over data to enrich the user experience.

Moreover, I believe this shift reflects a huge industry transformation to ensure advertisers can continue delivering relevant and targeted messages to their audience while considering evolving privacy regulations.



Devdatta Potnis, CEO, Animeta


In the ever-changing world of digital marketing, we’re facing a future without cookies, but that won’t slow us down. While Chrome’s browsing data may not be as accessible, smart marketers are finding other valuable sources like video and shopping data. Social media, with its vibrant presence, becomes a key player, proving that adaptability is our strongest suit.


As the industry evolves, marketers are discovering more effective ways to connect with audiences. We’re not just surviving, we’re thriving by tapping into diverse data and exploring new channels to stay ahead.


In this changing landscape, influencer marketing takes the spotlight as a golden opportunity. Creators with loyal communities become essential for personalised messaging. Social commerce, with its impressive growth, becomes a hub for marketers to genuinely connect with their audience.


I see a bright future where marketers not only survive but flourish without cookies. The blend of new mediums and the influence of creators will not just weather the storm but drive the industry to new heights. Embracing change isn’t just a necessity, it’s the key to innovation and lasting success in the dynamic world of digital marketing.



Kalyan Kumar, co-founder and CEO, KlugKlug


The transition to a cookieless world is set to be a significant game-changer in the realm of digital marketing, particularly for performance marketing that relies heavily on tracking and remarketing through cookies. Targeting consumers, especially after they've displayed interest, holds considerable power.


Currently, the future doesn't appear to offer an elegant and graceful transition into the cookieless era. Depending on the readiness of cookies, a shift toward more first-party data-led entities is anticipated. Platforms that control first-party data, such as Facebook, Instagram, and Google, may gain increasing control, emphasising the importance of prediction algorithms and machine learning.


This shift could impact traditional performance strategies, with a potential continuation of old-school philosophies like awareness, reach, and frequency campaigns, albeit with a shift away from relying on cookies. Larger platforms, including social media and e-commerce platforms like Amazon, are likely to play a more significant role for consumers who regularly visit or engage with them.


First-party data control, especially by major players close to consumer transactions, suggests the emergence of new versions of e-commerce best practices. Despite the cookieless landscape, targeting remains essential, leading to the development of different optimisation and ad tech technologies focusing on predicting consumer behavior based on historical data.


The evolving landscape may grant platforms like Facebook, Instagram, and Google even more significant shares, while e-commerce platforms become increasingly influential. The control of first-party data by major entities prompts a shift in focus towards new e-commerce best practices.


Despite the changes, targeting remains crucial in a cookieless world, driving the emergence of diverse optimisation and ad tech technologies. The industry, worth approximately USD 600 billion annually, faces challenges, with solutions in progress but not yet clearly defined. The substantial financial stakes likely drive ongoing efforts to adapt to the evolving landscape.


Vinay Tamboli, senior vice president – digital analytics and consulting business, LS Digital


Google's decision to phase out third-party cookies by 2024 will have a significant impact on the digital marketing landscape. Third-party cookies have been a cornerstone of digital advertising, enabling targeted advertising and user tracking across the web. Their phase-out will lead to a shift in how advertisers target and track users online.


Here are some trends in how marketers are gearing up and planning to handle this change:


Focus on first-party data: With the diminishing reliance on third-party cookies, the value of first-party data will surge. Companies will emphasise collecting and leveraging their customer data obtained through direct interactions. This data will be crucial for personalised marketing campaigns.


Privacy centric marketing: The emphasis on user privacy will become more pronounced. Marketers will need to adapt to new methods of targeting and tracking that respect user privacy. Contextual advertising, where ads are targeted based on the content of the webpage rather than individual user data, might gain prominence.


Shift towards alternate technologies: Alternative tracking technologies such as Google's Privacy Sandbox, which aims to offer privacy-friendly solutions for targeted advertising, are likely to emerge. New identifiers or technologies that comply with privacy regulations while allowing targeted advertising might be developed and adopted.


Rise of AI and machine learning: AI and machine learning technologies will play a pivotal role in optimising advertising without relying heavily on individual user data. AI-powered algorithms will help in understanding consumer behaviour patterns and preferences without breaching user privacy.


Regulatory impact: Regulatory bodies are becoming increasingly vigilant about data privacy. With stricter regulations like GDPR and CCPA in place, the digital marketing landscape will continue to evolve in response to these regulatory changes. Looking at this challenge, we at LS Digital, are helping our customers to build their ‘Marketing Data Infrastructure’ to get ready for this change.



Ganapathy Sankarabaaham, CEO, Vajra Global Consulting Services


It will not be entirely cookie-less, as only third-party cookies will be phased out. We can still use zero-party, first-party, and second-party cookies. Also, Ad platforms will evolve, as Google has now announced Google Ads Data Manager as a way to use first-party data with their Ad solutions.

Research data proves that the effective use of zero and first-party data improves lead conversions significantly. This is achieved through robust marketing strategies that improve customer experience using personalisation, while simultaneously reassuring customers that their data is stored and managed in line with the consent they provided. Investing in MarTech and PET (privacy-enhancing technologies) solutions will help businesses implement first-party data strategies effectively. 



Yash Chandiramani, founder and chief strategist, Admatazz 


We've been preparing for this since 2020 by playing out various theories. Any good marketing strategy doesn't depend on third-party cookies to target their consumer demographic. That comes from first-level targeting filters, location, and platform selection. Pixel-led targeting helps of course, but only further down in the funnel once the TG is targeted with the ad. 


There are three things we need to pay attention to in 2024:


First, adhering to all the new solutions by platforms e.g. server-side tracking implementation by certain platforms. 


Secondly, relying on first- and zero-party data. We are pushing clients to focus on robust CRM solutions to increase dependability on good quality owned data. 


And lastly, we feel the silver lining in all this is that agencies with their marketing and advertising basics in order will separate from the chaff. A lot of dependencies will be on the creative team to understand and deliver the message to a larger audience, so setups with performance and creative in-house will be able to tackle this better.



Dippak Khurana, co-founder and CEO, Vserv


Cookieless World - The beginning of the end has started! Marketers and agencies have already embraced the shift. They will start leaning on these 3 methods to make their marketing investments more effective i.e. build their first-party data, borrow second-party consented data, or rely on contextual targeting. The question is which one gives them high-quality outcomes and unduplicated reach across publishers, including walled gardens. Every marketer should go out and experiment with all 3 methods and find their own match. 




Campaign India

Follow us

Top news, insights and analysis every weekday

Sign up for Campaign Bulletins

Related Articles

Just Published

7 hours ago

Special London chief executive and partner departs

Jennifer Black joined the offshoot of the New Zealand agency in 2022.

8 hours ago

IPG reports organic revenue growth of 1.7% for Q2 ...

Group forecasting full-year organic growth of 1%, a downgrade on its previous forecast.

14 hours ago

Cannes Lions and Warc owner Ascential to be ...

Deal agreed by boards of Informa and Ascential but subject to regulatory and shareholder approval.

15 hours ago

160over90 appointed cultural marketing partner for ...

EXCLUSIVE: Set to occur from July 11 to August 3, 2025, the championships are anticipated to feature more than 2,500 athletes from the 210 national member federations of World Aquatics.