Six alternatives to third-party cookies

Published: April 2, 2024 by Experian Marketing Services

Six alternatives to consider for a cookieless world

With the impending deprecation of third-party cookies, marketers find themselves at the crossroads of innovation and adaptation. As we bid farewell to this identifier, the emphasis shifts to forging deeper connections, understanding customer needs, and navigating the marketing landscape with data-driven precision. At Experian, we stand as your trusted partner, committed to guiding you through this transition. In this blog post, we’ll explore:

  • How third-party cookie deprecation is impacting digital advertising
  • Six alternatives to third-party cookies and where they fall short
  • How Experian can help you navigate a cookieless world

Four ways third-party cookie deprecation is impacting digital advertising

Third-party cookie deprecation is causing significant challenges within the AdTech industry, manifesting in four key areas:

  1. Reach: Advertisers and demand-side platforms (DSPs) will face difficulties in reaching their target customers due to the absence of third-party cookies.
  2. Understanding audiences: Advertisers will find it challenging to understand the demographics and behaviors of their customer base without third-party cookies. Similarly, publishers are struggling to identify their audiences accurately, resulting in less addressable and appealing inventory.
  3. Measurement: Measurement providers may encounter obstacles in accurately assessing the effectiveness of advertising campaigns. Additionally, DSPs are finding it hard to measure the impact of their ads without the assistance of third-party cookies.
  4. Matching: Data providers may experience challenges in matching users with the appropriate audience segments, leading to difficulties in delivering targeted advertising.

Six alternatives to third-party cookies

As the deadline approaches for Google’s removal of third-party cookies from Chrome by the end of 2024, marketers are scrambling to discover alternative methods for delivering effective advertising. Fortunately, various alternatives are emerging. However, the abundance of options can create confusion rather than clarity. Which alternatives are worth considering? Here are six compelling alternatives to third-party cookies:

1. First-party data

Acquiring consented first-party data directly from users is becoming increasingly vital as it can lay the groundwork for more precise targeting.

2. Universal IDs

Alternative identifiers like The Trade Desk’s UID2 and ID5’s Universal ID are becoming increasingly important, offering the ability to maintain a comprehensive consumer view across channels and platforms, leading to enhanced personalization and addressability across various channels, even in cookieless environments.

3. Identity graphs

As browser-based IDs shift and digital signals decline, the need for an identity graph grows, with companies adopting a “graph-of-graph” strategy by combining their own robust first-party data with licensed identity graphs, as highlighted in recent announcements by industry giants such as Disney, VideoAmp, and Magnite.

4. Contextual targeting

Contextual targeting aligns publisher content with relevant ads, ensuring ad delivery based on content rather than individual identifiers. This privacy-respecting approach is less dependent on third-party cookies, providing effective audience activation.

5. Data collaboration

In a cookieless world, it becomes more difficult for companies to “communicate” with one another. We expect to see more pick up of data collaboration in the market, using addressable IDs and identity resolution to power connectivity between partners and their data sets.

6. Google Privacy Sandbox

The primary goal of Google’s Privacy Sandbox is to continue to deliver valuable consumer information that yields relevant marketing and media strategies, while protecting a user’s privacy.

How these alternatives to cookies fall short

While it’s promising to see numerous alternatives to cookies emerging, it’s essential to recognize that each alternative has its limitations and is not a perfect one-to-one replacement for third-party cookies. Let’s review the shortcomings of these alternatives, and then we’ll walk through how Experian can help you navigate these alternatives to cookies.

1. First-party data

First-party data, which is data directly collected from your users with their consent, is highly valuable. However, you will likely face limitations in terms of the number of consumers in your database, the identifiers linking them, and the insights into their demographics and behaviors. To overcome these limitations, it’s essential to expand both the quantity and quality of your first-party data.

2. Universal IDs

Universal identifiers are valuable for tracking users across different devices and websites. However, no single universal identifier has enough reach to fully replace third-party cookies. Universal IDs are most effective in terms of scaling, when they are combined with other universal identifiers or alternative addressable identifiers.

3. Identity graph

Identity graphs excel at connecting digital audiences. However, establishing an identity graph from scratch is a significant accomplishment, demanding expertise, financial resources, and more.

4. Contextual targeting

Contextual targeting and advertising aim to place your ads next to relevant content. However, there’s a risk that your ads might appear alongside misaligned content, reaching audiences who are uninterested or unintended.

5. Data collaboration

Data collaboration is beneficial for enhancing your consumer data and informing your strategies. However, it can introduce potential data security risks, if not done in the right framework, and may lead to subpar matching results due to issues like data hygiene or discrepancies in identifiers.

6. Google Privacy Sandbox

Google’s Privacy Sandbox aims to balance effective advertising with consumer privacy and data security. However, it lacks transparency and has yet to prove its effectiveness, raising concerns about whether it meets industry standards.

How Experian can help you navigate a cookieless world

As an industry innovator and leader in data and identity, we’ve developed solutions to address the challenges posed by the shift away from third-party cookies. Our products are designed to adapt to these changes and ensure your success. We’ve anticipated industry shifts and proactively prepared our offerings to support you through this transition. Below we outline how our products are ready to support you through the transition away from third-party cookies.


The Experian Graph facilitates connectivity without relying on cookies. Our Graph helps ensure connectivity by supporting a variety of addressable identifiers, not limited to but including universal IDs, like Unified ID 2.0 (UID2) and ID5’s universal ID. Whether you have first-party data or not, our Graph can be used to expand the reach of your first-party data or provide you with access to the full scope of our Graph’s 126 million households and 250 million individuals.

Activity Feed

Supported by our Graph, Activity Feed can help you deliver digital connectivity and resolution in a cookieless environment. Activity Feed can resolve disparate activity to a single, consumer profile. It can expand the quantity of addressable identifiers associated with your first-party consumers. Additionally, Activity Feed, by joining disparate activity and identifiers, provides clearer insights, more addressable targets, and more holistic measurement.

Our Marketing Attributes and Audiences

In a cookieless environment, our Marketing Attributes and Audiences provide valuable information and insights about who your consumers are, like their demographics, shopping patterns, and more, to facilitate more informed decision-making. You can use our Marketing Attributes and Audiences to enrich your first-party data, giving you crucial insights into your customers so you can make informed, strategic decisions. They can be matched to universal identifiers, expanding their utility. Additionally, our Marketing Attributes and Audiences are sourced from non-cookie dependent offline and digital sources, ensuring they are unimpacted by third-party cookie deprecation.


While third-party cookies have primarily served to connect data in the industry, many companies are turning to data collaboration in lieu of having third-party cookies. In doing so, they can connect data with key partners, which they can use to make better media decisions.

Experian Collaboration helps make data collaborations better, powering higher match rates by using the various identifiers supported in our offline and digital graphs. Through our current support of collaboration in three environments, within Experian, through crosswalks, and in clean rooms, such as AWS, InfoSum, and Snowflake, we ensure that you only share the data you intend to share, while the sensitive information remains secure. This way, your partner and you can focus on how to use the data to benefit you and not on anything else.

Get started with alternatives to third-party cookies today

While many view the deprecation of third-party cookies as disruptive, we see it as an opportunity for the industry to embrace a new era of advertising while prioritizing consumer privacy. Achieving this balance is crucial, and Experian’s solutions are here to help you navigate it effectively. As the AdTech industry gravitates toward a few tactics to effectively advertise in the cookieless future, Experian is here to understand your core needs and recommend products that will help.

In a rapidly evolving marketing landscape, Experian stands as your trusted partner, offering expertise in data-driven and identity solutions. Connect with our team to seamlessly transition into these alternatives to third-party cookies, ensuring your marketing strategies remain effective, privacy-compliant, and focused on meaningful connections.

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