Counting Cookies: The Reliance, the Risk, and the Remedy

A Study of 3rd-party cookie dependency across 300 leading websites in the US, UK, and Australia

Powered by DMPG, ObservePoint & SimilarWeb

Over 300 top websites scanned in the US, UK, & Australia

We scanned the top 100 (188 for Australia) sites for each country to answer the following questions:
How large is the third-party cookie dependency?
What are third-party cookies used for?
What is the risk presented by third-party cookies being phased out?

81.7% of all sites are setting third-party cookies

A huge dependency currently exists today with 81.7% of sites setting third-party cookies. It’s clear that organizations should be looking to ensure that they understand and manage the risks to their business associated with the collapse of third-party cookies.

450 Third-party cookie domains

Over 450 third-party cookie domains were identified across the sites analyzed in the AU, UK, and US markets. This demonstrates the breadth and depth of the challenge marketers and analysts face. It also suggests that as top brands across all three regions depend on so many third-party cookies for a plethora of functions, phasing out 450 cookies will prove to be no simple task.

84.9% of all cookie domains were in relation to advertising

The most prominent dependency identified related to advertising technology with over 84.9% of all sites dropping ad cookies from a third-party context.

It is crucial for organizations to understand the scope of their dependence on advertising and targeting cookies and devise a plan for weaning off of them to ensure their targeted data does not become inaccurate and unreliable. 

Mitigating the Impact of Third-Party Cookies on Advertising

There is no simple panacea. Mitigating the risks to advertising and developing alternatives to cookies are issues the ad industry has been scrambling to address for some time now. However, there are a few alternatives companies can look into including:

Renew emphasis on first-party data

Prepare to shift to contextual targeting

Nuture second-party data partnerships

Leverage "walled garden" capabilities

9.32% of all cookie domains related to measurement & web CX

A number of other tech dependencies were identified which more directly link to website CX. This is a high priority that needs to be addressed before Google support ceases.

So what can you do?

Step 1:

Start by understanding your exposure.

Step 2:

Dig into the details to identify and understand the technologies and associated capabilities in your digital ecosystem that have dependencies on third-party cookies.

Step 3:

Develop a roadmap to mitigate the risk. You will need to work closely with tech leads and developers in your organization and on the vendor side to eliminate the dependency as much as possible. 

A key part of the cookie mitigation roadmap will be developing a strategy which enables you to rely primarily on first and second party data assets and compete in “trust practices.”

Step 4:

Get to work.

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