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Of the top ten cookie recipes listed, Amish sugar cookies are number one, according to the January publication of Taste of Home. Edible cookies will likely be around forever, especially the delicious ones.  However, digital cookies, specifically third-party ones, will be disappearing this year on Google Chrome because of heightened privacy concerns.

Third-party cookies have been popular and valuable to marketers for the past 20 years.  They’ve been the most prevailing and dominant way for marketers to track online user activity and for behavioral targeting. And there’s nothing else available that will match up to it once it’s gone.

Why is This Occurring?

Understanding why this is happening will help marketers better prepare for the future. The primary reason is because of mounting consumer concerns about privacy. This is nothing new. In response to this, Facebook cut off third-party data access last year to its advertisers. Apple Safari and Mozilla Firefox blocked them in 2013.

It all comes down to trust. More and more, consumers don’t trust companies using their personal information and data, Many find it invasive and don’t want to feel like they’re being spied upon. But for marketers who are unprepared, the absence of third-party cookies could be devastating. Google Chrome alone accounted for nearly half (47.53%) the share of the entire browser market in March of this year, according to StatCounter, a web traffic analysis website.

How to Prepare

Marketers who have been relying on third-party cookies need to restrategize right away. It will be too late once Google initiates its announced third-party data action. Here are some steps that can be taken.

Revisiting and auditing the sources of the brand’s first-party data should be the first step. This is data that the brand’s customers have already agreed to share. Is every potential source for capturing even more data being utilized? This should include not just the brand’s website and social media platforms, but also its CRM platforms, surveys, customer feedback, and subscription-based emails.

Ensure that important data is being gathered. What products did they view? Which of the brand’s social media posts did they interact with? Where did they spend more than an average amount of time? What other possible passions and interests were exhibited? Their purchase history and demographics should already be part of the record.

It’s important that data be stored in a “clean room,” a secure and protected environment where customer data can also be made anonymous, then measured and analyzed. At the same time, consider second party data partnerships. These are deals in which brands with similar audiences sell their first-party data.

Review and, if necessary, update and revise the brand’s data privacy policy and public statement. Be clear if the brand will or will not sell its customer data. What’s important is that customers are aware and informed about the brand’s data policy. It should also be displayed on the brand’s website and social media platforms.

Consider investing in an information security system that also includes data masking. This is imperative for brands that market in the UK and California. If more states adopt the California Consumer Privacy Act, having this will be an important tool and asset in the future.

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Ronn Torossian is the founder and CEO of 5W Public Relations, one of the largest independently-owned PR firms in the United States. With over 20 years of experience crafting and executing powerful narratives, Torossian is one of America's most prolific and well-respected Public Relations professionals. Since founding 5WPR in 2003, he has led the company's growth, overseeing more than 175 professionals in the company's headquarters in midtown Manhattan. With clients spanning corporate, technology, consumer and crisis, in addition to digital marketing and public affairs capabilities, 5WPR is regularly recognized as an industry leader and has been named "PR Agency of the Year" by the American Business Awards on multiple occasions. Throughout his career, Torossian has worked with some of the world's most visible companies, brands and organizations. His strategic, resourceful approach has been recognized with numerous awards including being named the Stevie American Business Awards 2020 Entrepreneur of the Year, the American Business Awards PR Executive of the Year, twice over, an Ernst & Young Entrepreneur of the Year semi-finalist, Metropolitan Magazine's Most Influential New Yorker, and a 2020 Top Crisis Communications Professional by Business Insider. Torossian is known as one of the country's foremost experts on crisis communications, and is called on to counsel blue chip companies, top business executives and entrepreneurs both in the United States and worldwide. Torossian has lectured on crisis PR at Harvard Business School, appears regularly on CNN & CNBC, was named to PR Week's "40 under Forty" list, is a contributing columnist for Forbes and the New York Observer, and his book, "For Immediate Release: Shape Minds, Build Brands, and Deliver Results With Game-Changing Public Relations" is an industry best-seller. A NYC native, Torossian lives in Manhattan with his children. He is a member of Young Presidents Organization (YPO), and active in numerous charities.