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Google has once again delayed its plan to phase out third-party cookies in its Chrome browser, pushing the already-thrice-pushed deadline (Google first announced the initiative back in 2020) to 2025. The primary reason for the delay is to allow more time for evaluating and testing the new Privacy Sandbox technologies, ensuring they are effective and privacy-preserving while addressing industry feedback and regulatory concerns.

Overall, Google's decision to delay the phase-out reflects the need for a balanced approach that satisfies regulatory and industry requirements while ensuring a smooth transition to more privacy-focused advertising technologies.

The cookie crumbles, but the future of advertising thrives! Simpli.fi’s Paul Harrison shares his thoughts in this Q&A as we consider the cookieless future from a CTO's perspective. We discuss how CTOs can effectively navigate the deprecation of third-party cookies and lead their teams toward success.

Strategic Leadership

1. With the deprecation of third-party cookies, how can CTOs effectively communicate the impact and urgency of this change to stakeholders across the organization, ensuring alignment and buy-in for a new approach to digital advertising?

"Although Google has announced the delay in the end of third-party cookies, it's still crucial for CTOs to take proactive measures and prepare for the inevitable change. This extra time can be used to ensure that their targeting and attribution solutions are fully ready to function without third-party cookies.

CTOs must communicate with stakeholders about the industry-wide shift away from third-party cookies and educate them about the broader trends in digital advertising. By doing so, CTOs can help stakeholders understand how this change will shape digital advertising and alleviate immediate concerns.

Highlight your organization's proactive stance and a robust offering of cookieless solutions to assure clients and partners that they are well-prepared to handle the transition.

Most importantly, CTOs should recognize this as an opportunity. While traditional means of targeting and attribution will need to be rethought with the introduction of alternative IDs and privacy sandboxes, it is both an opportunity to capture market share and to innovate.”

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Rethinking Measurement & Success in a Data-Driven Future

2. Traditionally, digital advertising success has relied heavily on metrics tied to third-party cookies. As we move away from this model, how can CTOs redefine success in this new era, potentially creating a more holistic view of campaign effectiveness and customer journey? Beyond third-party cookies, how can CTOs champion a shift towards a more robust first-party data strategy, empowering teams to leverage and analyze customer data responsibly and ethically?

"CTOs have a unique opportunity to redefine success by shifting their focus towards alternative methods for measuring campaign effectiveness and customer journey. By adopting attribution models that incorporate panel-based approaches or scaled signals, CTOs can gain directional insights that go beyond the traditional metrics tied to third-party cookies. Extensive investment in Machine Learning (ML) to manage the ever-fragmenting signals used for targeting, optimizing, and attribution is also important.

With the upcoming deprecation of third-party cookies, CTOs must anticipate tactical shifts in how features are implemented, optimized, and attributed and prioritize a more robust first-party data strategy. By building direct relationships with customers through first-party data, companies can gain deeper insights into customer behavior and preferences and create more personalized and targeted advertising campaigns, all while respecting user privacy.

CTOs should also explore partnerships and technological advancements offering alternative solutions to third-party cookies. Engaging with initiatives like Google's Privacy Sandbox can also provide valuable insights into future cookieless solutions and help companies adapt to the changing landscape of digital advertising."

Building Trust & Transparency

3. User privacy is massively important. The deprecation of third-party cookies could potentially shift the power dynamic between advertisers and consumers. How can CTOs lead the development of clear and transparent communication strategies regarding data collection and user tracking? How can CTOs champion ethical practices within their teams to ensure responsible utilization, fostering a more balanced ecosystem that respects user privacy?

"As technology evolves, it is becoming increasingly important for CTOs to take on the responsibility of leading efforts to educate stakeholders, including internal teams, clients, and partners, about their company's unwavering commitment to user privacy.

This includes taking proactive steps such as developing cookieless solutions, obfuscating identifiers within systems, and forming partnerships with relevant organizations to stay ahead of the constantly changing landscape.

By prioritizing transparency in product development, CTOs can ensure that all features and functionalities are designed with privacy in mind, avoiding the ingestion of Personally Identifiable Information (PII) and providing users with straightforward options to manage their data privacy."

Reimagining the Role of Creativity

4. With the decline of hyper-targeted advertising, could a renewed focus on creativity and compelling brand storytelling become more critical for capturing user attention? How can CTOs work with marketing teams to leverage technology to enhance, not replace, the power of creative content in a cookieless future?

"As we work in this complicated and evolving advertising landscape, it's important to acknowledge that the shift away from hyper-targeting doesn't signify its decline but rather a change in how it is done.

In a future without cookies, it's crucial for CTOs and marketing teams to work together to leverage technology without replacing the power of creative content. To maintain and/or exceed the current hyper-targeting paradigm, creative solutioning, machine learning, and innovation will be required.

In addition, CTOs can collaborate with marketing teams to create case studies and thought leadership content, such as company POVs and whitepapers. These marketing materials demonstrate their expertise while exploring innovative approaches to brand storytelling." 

Future-Proofing Talent

5. The skill sets needed for success in digital advertising are likely to evolve. How can CTOs invest in upskilling and reskilling their teams to ensure they have the capabilities to thrive in a cookieless future?

"To empower teams for success in a cookieless future, CTOs should pursue a strategic investment in technology to bridge the gap left by cookie deprecation, particularly in targeting, optimization, and attribution.

Embracing machine learning, fostering partnerships with first parties, and adapting to evolving privacy sandbox implementations will be instrumental. This combination will ensure teams are equipped to navigate the challenges of a cookieless landscape and positioned to thrive amidst its opportunities."

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Katie Sanders
By Katie Sanders

As a data-driven content strategist, editor, writer, and community steward, Katie helps technical leaders win at work. Her 14 years of experience in the tech space makes her well-rounded to provide technical audiences with expert insights and practical advice through Q&As, Thought Leadership, Ebooks, etc.