24 Alternatives to Third Party Cookies: Thrive in a Cookieless 2024 (Part 1: Zero & First Party Data)

7 min readSep 21, 2023

It’s (probably) happening really soon. Following Mozilla’s Firefox and Apple’s Safari, Google plans to continue its journey toward third-party cookie deprecation in 2024 in an effort to increase data privacy.

While initially scheduled for 2022, the plan is now to eliminate third-party cookies for 1% of Chrome users in the first quarter of 2024. Then, gradually phase it out for everyone throughout the year.

To help the media industry continue thriving with audience targeting, we’ve found 24 great alternatives to third-party cookies. We’ll start with zero and first-party data today, and continue in two more articles. Subscribe here to find out when they’re published.

Cookie Deprecation is Your Opportunity: Understanding Zero vs. First-Party Data

Zero-party data means data your audience gives you freely — say, when they fill out a form. First-party data is data you collect from your assets, such as browsing or purchasing history.

Both are great alternatives to third-party cookies. Here’s why — and some of your best options.

Zero & First Party Data Alternatives to Third Party Cookies

Both zero and first-party data help with audience targeting despite cookie deprecation because they put the focus on creating and deepening customer relationships. Over time, customers will trust you to protect their data privacy and be willing to share even more about themselves and their needs.

Source: PwC

1) Create Quizzes

Asking people to fill out personal information that helps you sell more accurately sounds unreasonable… until you give them actual value in exchange. “82% would share some type of personal data for a better customer experience,” reports PwC.

Take author Gretchen Rubin. She identified 4 personality traits (tendencies, as she calls them). You can take a quiz to discover which one you are. In exchange, you get targeted messages that align with how you think and products tailored to your specific needs. But you get more than that.

If you’re an obliger, you understand your need for outer accountability (and practical ideas to implement if you don’t have any). If you’re a rebel, you discover how to meet goals even though no one in the world, including yourself, can “make you” do the work.

The media industry has many topics, content series, and opportunities to create quizzes like that, thus generating identifiers despite third-party cookie deprecation.

2) Offer Contests with Prizes

Giving real — and relevant — value makes a difference when creating alternatives to third-party cookies. Be as specific as possible for your editorial and e-commerce needs, as well as for your advertisers.

Got a home improvement publication? Invite readers to submit their home improvement horror stories as one of your marketing strategies. Ask to include how much they’ve already spent trying to fix the situation — for the chance to win an all-expenses paid makeover with a professional.

Among others, you’ll learn about…

  • Their biggest pain points and…
  • What’s the budget they’re actually pouring into them — not what they say they might invest one day.

3) Invite Customers to Get Involved in Content or Product Development

One in four survey respondents told PwC that they show loyalty by providing feedback on products and services. Therefore…

  • As you decide which content series or products to produce,
  • As you’re further into development and prepare to launch,
  • And as you seek to improve…

Reach out for customer feedback to combat cookie deprecation.

This is one of the best alternatives to third-party cookies. Customers are literally telling you what they want to read, watch, or buy. You might discover audience segments and create identifiers this way. Simultaneously, customers feel valuable and show that they trust you to protect their data privacy, which can contribute to long-term customer relationships.

Source: PwC

4) Ask Customers to Fill Review Forms

Review forms are another way to get feedback. Ask specific questions you need answered, but ask as little as possible to get more forms filled.

You can offer a reward for those willing to dive deeper, or if they’re willing to let you use positive reviews publicly as part of your marketing strategies. Make the reward specific and relevant to your audience to increase meaningful responses.

5) Collaborate with Customer Service

One of the most underrated departments in your organization represents one of the best alternatives to third-party cookies: Customer service.

Customer service talks to customers all day, every day. Agents hear firsthand what it’s like for customers to use your product in real life. That’s a lot of data. If everything gets documented well in your CRM, it becomes easier to target the right people with the right messages.

Similarly, if you have customer success folks managing your business accounts, enlist them for ethical data collection, too.

6) Reach Out to Customers Who’ve Hit Milestones

As cookie deprecation nears, reach out to customers who’ve hit certain milestones to gently collect more information.

Milestone examples:

  • Three or ten repeat purchases
  • Have been subscribed for 100 days or five years
  • Doubled last year’s purchases

You can ask them when their birthday is, what their kids’ ages are, how often they travel. In return, recommend products, arrange for discounts or make sure they’re among the first to know of upcoming launches. As you can see, alternatives to third-party cookies are much more win-win.

7) Build an Email List

One of the most talked about ways to generate identifiers as we say goodbye to third-party cookies is email. Email lists give you direct access to your audience. Among others, track:

  • What they open
  • How much time they spend reading
  • What they click on

Segment your data, and adjust what you’re sending to get better results, and audience targeting will grow easier.

8) Send SMS

SMS marketing strategies are similar to email, except SMS open rates are 5x higher, and response rates are 8x higher. This positions texts as great alternatives to third-party cookies. According to Attentive, companies use SMS data to segment audiences, understand trends, and strategize their marketing.

Source: Attentive

9) Make Subscriptions and Loyalty Programs Worth It

Magazine subscriptions and e-commerce loyalty programs give the media industry opportunities to use the strategies mentioned here in various creative ways over a longer time period. This way, you can always have current data, even as your customers’ lives and preferences change.

Of course, you have to start a customer relationship before you have a chance to build and deepen it like this. So don’t wait until third-party cookies are completely phased out. Start your marketing strategies now, and start at the beginning — during initial sign-ups.

10) Leverage User Registration

KiwiCo creates research-backed, kid-tested science and technology activities for kids. On its homepage, KiwiCo literally asks you for your email address and your kids’ ages, so you can get “age-appropriate emails”.

That’s an audience targeting strategy that simplifies creating segments and identifiers without third-party cookies.

  • KiwiCo can estimate when a child gets older. Its products are segmented by age, too. It can keep offering relevant products, even as kids grow.
  • It likely knows which families have more than one child, so it can potentially offer bigger deals.

The media industry can do it, too. If you have a healthy lifestyle publication, ask readers where they are on their journey. If they’re beginners…

  • Invite them to a 21-day challenge, then upgrade them to the next level of content and products.
  • Or check with them after three months to see how they’re doing, and let them re-segment themselves.

11) Get Data from Your Own Site

In the media industry, website data might be the lowest-hanging first-party data fruit. Overcome third-party cookie deprecation by analyzing…

  • How readers find your site
  • What content they read for longer times
  • What gets them clicking into further pages
  • Which ads interest them
  • What they put in their carts

Source: Harvard Business Review’s store

13 More Alternatives to Third-Party Cookie Deprecation Coming Soon

The media industry can keep thriving in a world that prioritizes data privacy. In the upcoming parts of our series, we’ll show you how to…

  • Leverage second-party data
  • Utilize advanced technical options

Sign up here so we can tell you when they’re published, but get started today. Choose one or a few zero and first-party options, and go all out in prioritizing them. By the time third-party cookie deprecation is complete, you’ll no longer need them.




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