Alternatives to third-party cookies: How to adapt to a cookieless future

You’ve probably heard stories in the news about how privacy concerns are causing browsers and operating systems to clamp down on how users are tracked across the web. As a marketer or businessowner, you might be worried about how this will affect your digital advertising campaigns – and you’d be right to. Keep reading to find out everything you need to know.


What are cookies?

HTTP cookies are small text files that are placed on your device by your browser when you visit a website. They’re split into two types:

  1. First-party cookies are set by the website that you’re currently browsing and are used to improve user experience, such as by saving your login details or remembering what items you added to your basket.
  2. Third-party cookies are set by websites other than the one being visited and are used to collect user data, such as tracking which websites you’ve visited or whether you’ve interacted with social buttons.


Why are third-party cookies being phased out?

Due to increasing concerns about privacy while browsing online, users are demanding greater transparency and control about what data is collected and how it is used. This, along with legislative changes, is putting pressure on browsers to stop using ‘invasive’ third-party cookies.


When will this happen?

The cookieless era is already partially upon us, with Firefox and Safari blocking third-party cookies by default. However, Chrome, which has almost 70% of the browser market share, isn’t set to phase out third-party cookies until late 2023.


What impact will it have?

For marketers, the loss of third-party cookies will mean losing the ability to retarget ads to previous website visitors or lookalike audiences. It will impair advertisers from building detailed user profiles, which would previously be used for tightly targeting ads to highly relevant segments. From a reporting perspective, it will also prevent marketers from being able to attribute non-last click conversions (e.g., when a user clicks on your ad, then comes back later to make a purchase).


What alternative solutions are there?


Google are currently working on their new ‘Privacy Sandbox’ solution, which aims to balance users’ desire for privacy with advertisers’ desire to target and track ads effectively. The Privacy Sandbox is made up of several proposals:

  1. Interests-based targeting using the Topics API
  2. Click and conversion tracking using the Attribution Reporting API
  3. Combatting fraud using the Trust Token API

The Privacy Sandbox is set to launch in late 2023 to coincide with when Chrome will block third-party cookies by default, so keep your eyes peeled for further updates.


Facebook are also working on an API-based solution, their ‘Conversions API‘ (or ‘CAPI’ for short). Unlike the Facebook Pixel, which is a browser-side tool, the Conversions API is a server-side tool and so does not rely on cookies. This means you should be able to do all the same data tracking and ad targeting as before by sending information directly from your server.

The Conversions API is available to set up now, so click here to compare different setup options or email to see how our digital team can help.



The death of third-party cookies is already well underway. If marketers don’t adapt, the performance of ad campaigns across digital channels will suffer due to the loss of attributed conversions and restrictions on audience targeting.

But all hope is not lost! We can help you maintain – or even improve – your Return on Ad Spend (aka ROAS) by implementing alternative solutions, developing your digital marketing strategy, and getting the most out of your analytics, so you can see tangible improvement to your online performance.

For more insights and advice on how we can help you with digital marketing, web development, PR or social, get in touch today or simply call us on 01527 579 555.