1. Introduction
  2. Success on a slim stack

Part 1 – Introduction

The future of Cookies is an issue that is worrying advertisers, publishers, managers, business owners and pretty much anyone else who uses digital advertising for their business. A lot has been discussed about cookie deprecation, and in particular increasing awareness that third-party cookies are going away and likely won’t be coming back. Throw in IOS updates that gives people the option to opt-in to, and therefore the option to opt-out of,  tracking on third-party sites and it’s clear that the limitations of cookies (well third-party anyway) are being exposed.

Fortune Cookie
See what’s to come…

This is far from a bad thing, as whilst all of the above are making digital advertisers have to re-think their strategies, the new approaches required lend themselves to what consumers are increasingly after. The expectation of personalisation, the increased awareness to see action around privacy concerns and the requirement of customer centricity means that, whilst reacting to certain doors being shut, we can create experiences more closely aligned to what consumers want.

On top of this, the change in tack required to deal with the increased limitations of cookies has internal benefits to organisations as well. A move away from third-party cookies towards zero and first-party data will do great things for improving the accuracy of data within organisations and breaking down internal silos.

All things considered, third-party cookie deprecation is not something to be afraid of, in fact, it provides the perfect stimulus for companies to re-orientate their processes, become more customer-centric, provide better experiences and improve internal communication and collaboration.

Cake Mix HQ
Cake Mix HQ

Here at Cake Mix HQ we’ve been evaluating what these changes mean and the first and zero-party data customer journeys you can create in response to them. The results are really exciting and allow you to engage customers on their terms, in a targeted and effective manner.

We’re going to introduce you to our ideas, our research and the discussions where we map out exactly how to make the most of tools at your disposal. (Most of which are completely free to use) This area is ever-evolving and we want to take you on the journey with us to understanding the future of cookies, how to use first-party data, how to get zero-party data and how to pull it all together to create brilliant experiences for your customers.

First things first let’s get our terminology straight about the different data flavours.

Data Recipes - Zero, first, second a third party data infographic
Our Data Flavours Infographic courtesy of our own Jamie Conoley

You can see a video of Ben explaining these here.

Part 2 – Getting started: Success on a slim stack

You might be looking at this and thinking to yourself “So third-party cookies are going away, but what do I do about this?” and it’s not only a fair but pertinent question.

The metaphorical knife edge

Facebook and Google, two companies whose ads are definitely affected by Cookie deprecation and IOS updates, are simultaneously trying to assure advertisers that everything will be absolutely fine, and you can still target consumers effectively, whilst also assuring consumers that they care about their privacy and won’t allow them to be targeted in the same fashion as before.

Obviously, this is not a knife edge they can balance on for ever.

The common consensus is that you will still be able to target consumers, though not as effectively. Some of the ad mechanisms and processes expected to take the biggest hits are:

  • Multi-touch Attribution
  • Re-targeting
  • Ad Analytics data

The long and the short of it is, you will probably spend more, get fewer conversions and have less oversight on what’s happening but still ultimately will be able to advertise using many of the tactics you did before – but if you do that the competition will be leaving you behind as they start to harness the power of first and zero party data.

There’s a host of articles out there explaining all the damage the limitations of Cookies will cause so we won’t labour the point too much here. Our focus is less on the hand-wringing “How terrible it all is” and more on the “Here’s how to still get stuff done”

So let’s get to it:

Stack, Cookies – this picture has it all

Now there’s a host of expensive and slightly less expensive customer data platforms, customer experience platforms and other tools which do admittedly, make cookies deprecation easier to deal with. But you can get a great deal done with your website (and CMS), CRM, Google analytics and Google ads – you’ll either already have these (website, CMS & CRM) or can get them for free (Google Analytics and Google Ads). Using this simple stack and the right strategy you can easily deal with third-party cookies going away.

An important aspect to consider with your stack is how well the elements integrate with each other, most modern platforms are pretty good at this but evaluate them now because otherwise you’ll be in for a heap of frustration as we start to progress. Many have built-in integrations, others allow you to use tools such as Zapier to connect them. Do be wary with this, as whilst Zapier is a great tool it can’t start to run costs up based on the number of “tasks” it’s having to fire.


Your CRM will be key to your new strategy, this is where a lot of the magic happens when it comes to using zero and first-party data. Most modern CRMs have the required bells and whistles to bring your data recipes to life but if not, we can highly recommend Hubspot, yes we are a Hubspot Diamond Partner – but all bias aside it really is a great platform for what you’ll need to do in terms of segmentation.

Which brings us nicely onto something that is critical to the success of your cookie deprecation plan – segmentation and personalisation. We’re going to do a thorough examination of segmentation and personalisation but it’s important when looking at your tech stack to examine how wide ranging your segmentation and personalisation options are because these will be crucial to your success.

This will lean heavily on your CRM and web CMS. Most CRMs will allow you to create numerous persona segments based on the first and zero-party data you feed into it and the really good ones will allow you to use that information to start shaping the personalised journeys for your visitors.


The next step is to use the information around your personas to create personalised experiences by using tools like dynamic content. Most CMSs have this as an inbuilt option or as a plugin and the majority will allow you to create these experiences via a direct connection to your CRM. For others it will be a case of deciding what the personalisation trigger for each group is and manually setting that in your CMS. This is a far less elegant solution so ideally you want to make sure your tech-stack has a modern CRM and CMS that will allow the integration.

If yours doesn’t then you should consider finding a new one, not simply because it won’t allow you to deliver on this strategy, but it suggests the company behind them is not innovating enough or even following trends enough to give you the value that needed from a CRM and CMS.

Google Analytics

So you’ve got a CMS and CRM that will integrate with each other and allow you to segment and provide personalisation, next up, its key to integrate Google Analytics (G.A.) into this stack. G.A. won’t just provide you within insight into how people are behaving on your site it will allow you to feed that information back into your CRM to keep building your personas and gain a richer, fuller experience of how users are behaving on your site, how they are engaging with your personalisation and where the key drop offs are.

Google Ads

The other advantage to having a well-integrated analytics and CRM set-up is when we bring Google Ads into play, as you can automatically add them into remarketing lists in analytics which connects to Google Ads allowing you to retarget your web visitors. Now I hear you say: “but Cake Mix, you told us what with third-party cookies going away that remarketing would be affected”. Now this is certainly true but there’s a few caveats to that.

1 – RLSA –  or Remarketing Lists for Search Ads to give them their full title. Word on the street is these will be unaffected by Cookie deprecation as these rely on Google’s Cookie and a search query on Google.

The much desired golden goose eggs

2– As mentioned, Google relies a lot on advertising (in fact it’s the main source of its revenue) so they’re not going to kill the golden goose completely, its already got replacement processes in the works and you will still be able to remarket on Google owned and operated media but you won’t be targeting individual users and instead will target cohorts.

Any who this is meant to be about how to use first-party data and how to use zero-party data which means we don’t need to get too bogged down in what third-party style features will still be available.

If you’ve got Google Ads integrated with Google Analytics you will be able to create lists based around your personas and target ads based on audiences that look similar to them or target them, based on their email. This works on other platforms such as Facebook and Pintrest as well. This means you can increase the LTV of your existing customers and target other consumers who would fit well with a particular segment and the messaging that resonates with them.

So that’s what required for your nice, lean integrated stack. With a good CRM, CMS, Google Analytics and Google Ads you’ll be able set up a host of great, personalised journeys targeting the right person, with the right message at the right time.

– Unsure if your stack is up to it? Then get in touch and we can help you evaluate it.

If you want some advice from Google on integrating analytics and your CRM then head here.

We’ve got so much awesome stuff to share with you but we’re going to drip feed it so it’s available in manageable bites rather than have you try and eat the whole cake at once. We’re just going to keep updating this blog so you can just keep returning here – a constant source of information and insight into the different recipes you can cook up with first and zero-party data.

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