24 Alternatives to Third Party Cookies: Thrive in a Cookieless 2024 (Part 2: Second-Party Data)

7 min readOct 13, 2023


If you’ve been feeling like shrugging cookie deprecation off and saying it won’t really happen, we get it. Google initially scheduled it for 2022 and is now saying it’ll happen for only 1% in the first quarter of 2024 — with the intention to phase it out for everyone until 2025.

That’s quite a stretch.

But anyone who wants to stay relevant in the media industry can’t ignore the increasing demands for data privacy in advertising and marketing strategies. And there’s no need to. You’re probably already using some of the low-hanging alternatives to third-party cookies, and even if not… we’ve got you covered.

Following our 12 zero and first-party data suggestions, we’re continuing the series with 6 second-party data alternatives to third-party cookies that are totally doable.

Focus on at least some of them in 2024. By the time we really say goodbye to third-party data, you’ll be way ahead of the game.

Zero and First Party Data vs. Second Party Data vs. Third Party Cookies

“Most industry leaders believed they were infinitely more prepared for the post-third-party cookie and ID tracking world than their organizational readiness demonstrated [in 2021 and 2022],” reported the Interactive Advertising Bureau (IAB) and Ipsos.

Source: IAB

Meanwhile, third-party data investments continued to grow, it added — likely because they’re generating present-moment results.

Source: IAB

But we want you to think long-term, so your publications can keep thriving in the ever-changing media industry.

Hence, before we talk about alternatives to third-party cookies, let’s understand what they are and how they’re different from other types of data.

  • Customers give you zero party data voluntarily, say, when they fill out a quiz.
  • You gather first-party data yourself. For example, how readers use your site.
  • If you share this data with another company, for that company, it counts as second-party data. It’s data the company got from you instead of its own sources. Similarly, when you use data from social media platforms, that’s second-party data for you.
  • Third-party cookies, which we’re likely saying goodbye to soon, is data that gets collected by companies you might not have a direct business relationship with. Its impact is more widespread and its damage to data privacy is more severe.

Second-Party Data Alternatives to Third-Party Cookies

We said it before and we’ll say it again — cookie deprecation can be your opportunity to build better, more trusted relationships with your audience. Show your readers and customers you can personalize experiences while still protecting their privacy as much as possible.

There’s probably a lot you’re already doing with these second-party data alternatives to third-party cookies. This is your reminder to take it to the next level.

12) Target Readers and Customers with Social Media Ads

Most companies in the media industry likely already use social media, regardless of any cookie deprecation. Audience targeting with ads on social platforms can generate high-quality second-party data, such as demographics, interests, activity, and more.

As you make it one of your alternatives to third-party cookies, look to gather data from…

  • Your own followers
  • People who are similar to your followers
  • People who follow complimentary publications

You’ll be able to create much stronger identifiers with this mix.

13) Tap into Interest-Based Advertising

48% of survey respondents told CI&T in 2023 that they prefer personalized shopping experiences that are tailored to every individual, but 87% want you to ask for permission before collecting their data.

Worried that permission-based data collection and audience targeting won’t give customers the personalization they want?

It’s understandable. Cookie deprecation requires the media industry to change the way it creates identifiers, and some personalization won’t be as easy.

But here’s some more good news:

52% of that survey respondents actually said that they prefer personalization be done for “groups of similar customers,” reports CI&T. Meaning, tapping into something like interest-based advertising still keeps half of your audience very happy while respecting the majority’s request for greater data privacy and control.

So what does interest-based advertising look like?

Source: CI&T

Let’s say a segment of your readers is actively looking for tips on buying a home. This group is likely interested in a range of topics, including…

  • Personal Finance
  • Home Insurance
  • Interior Design

They might also be interested in…

  • Packing
  • Decluttering as they pack
  • Maybe selling a home
  • Making friends in a new place
  • Self-care and relationship care while making this transition
  • Time management, as it’s all a lot to add to anyone’s schedule

… which takes us to….

14) Use Contextual Advertising

Audience targeting and identifier creation here is pretty similar to interest-based advertising. However, there’s a deeper level of accuracy that’s critical to effective marketing strategies. Contextual advertising matches ads with content instead of with users.

This way…

  • You avoid serving home insurance ads to your ideal user’s 8-year-old, who’s reading your company’s kids’ science magazine on their parents’ phone.
  • Instead, you’ll serve the home insurance ads when readers consume your real estate content.

15) Add the Option for Single Sign-On

One of the simplest alternatives to third-party cookies for your audience? Single sign-on.

When readers want to log into their accounts, they can spare a bunch of time and frustration by simply clicking a button that connects their account with you and their favorite social media platform. In one click, they…

  • Log into their account on your website.
  • Give you access to second-party data — the data that’s generated on Facebook or Instagram about their demographics, interests, and activities.

16) Join Forces with Ad Platforms

Want access to data from hundreds or thousands of sources at once?

Sign up to ad platforms.

Ad platforms unify second-party data from a wealth of sources to create more accurate identifiers. This is especially important for the media industry, where you’re both building audiences and customers and serving ads on your content.

As cookie deprecation becomes a reality and advertising tasks will keep growing less and less manual, advertisers will keep seeking out ad platforms…

  • As second-party data alternatives to third-party cookies; and
  • To simplify their operations.

Your publication needs to be there, ready to capture the demand.

17) Partner with Complementary Companies

April Fools’ Day 2018 likely gave many customers a reason to smile. Warby Parker, an affordable glasses brand, joined campaign forces with Arby’s, which sells fast meat. Why? Because “Arby” is part of both brand names.

So they created a temporary brand called “WARby.” The brand sold T-shirts, bags and even “a raw beef patterned pair of glasses,” reports Nylon.

Source: Warby vs. Nylon

Customers want to be part of campaigns like that because they’re unexpected and unique. Therefore, they’d probably be open to sharing their data more easily.

But you don’t always need to go so far outside the box for your marketing strategies. Sometimes, a more organic collaboration is better when the intention is to overcome cookie deprecation.

To continue the above example…

  • Let’s say your publication focuses on real estate…
  • And you need second-party data alternatives to third-party cookies, so you can create more solid identifiers.
  • Tapping into first-party data from complimentary home decor, home insurance or financial publications (which would be second-party data for you) might actually be more beneficial.

18 More Alternatives to Third-Party Cookie Deprecation

As you can see, second-party data alternatives to third-party cookies are often low-hanging fruit — you already work on, at least to some extent.

But as the race toward better data privacy continues, so does our series of options the media industry has to thrive post cookie deprecation. We’re sharing how to…

Sign up here so we can tell you when we publish the advanced technical options article, but get started today. If second-party data alternatives to third-party cookies present the simplest options for you, or you see they’ll make the biggest impact, prioritize a few of them first. You can always add more strategies later. Soon, you’ll have so much great data, that when you hear “cookies,” you’ll get back to thinking “chocolate chip.”




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