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🍪Good riddance to third-party cookies

third party cookies

This is Inbox Hacking, a free newsletter with unique marketing insights, tools, & tactics sent every Wednesday. Join marketers from Ad Age, Duke University, & Zoho, and sign up for your Free subscription

Good morning from a cold, flooded street near Athens, Georgia. Congrats to Wolverines fans. Harbaugh is driven and crazy. You need both sometimes.

Today, I’m telling you why you’ll be better off without third-party cookies and give you two solid replacements. Also, I will rile up Google worshipers as I take shots at their proposed cookie alternatives. Let’s get to it. 

3 Reasons Third-Party Cookie Extinction is a Good Thing

#1 These cookies often waste your ad spend as they contribute to click fraud

#2 Brands will be forced to make real efforts to directly engage with their audience

#3 How is data via today’s scrolling randomness (think TikTok) – helpful in retargeting?

I’ve got quotes from smarter people than me (not hard) to back those up…

Witnesses for the Persecution of Third-Party Cookies

Apple’s Safari started banning 3rd-party cookies back in 2013 but we still see people bidding for digital advertising on Safari.” 


…reducing click fraud is going to give marketers so much more bang for their buck going forward. It’s more worth their efforts to try to avoid advertising networks and publishers on advertising networks with fraudulent activity than it is for them to try to benefit from third-party cookies.

~Bill Rand (smart guy, NC State)

The effectiveness of cookie-based ad targeting has never been based entirely on core efficiency but rather the sheer scale that technology and big data bring to bear across millions of interactions.” ~Tom Cheli (smart guy, Forbes)

Now for those two legit replacements for third-party cookie codependency before I besmirch the good name of that bastion of privacy, the Googsters.

Email Marketing & Contextual Advertising

A serious focus on your email marketing will make you forget cookie addictions.

Besides face-to-face interactions, there is no higher level of personal contact with your audience than their inbox. Email can hold their attention, whereas social platforms jab them with 17 attention-snatching dopamine hits every 30 seconds. And your brands’ pop-up ads on publisher websites are competing with two or three more ads popping into your target user’s attention.

💰Email ROI varies across industries, but Mailmodo reports a 15.22% conversion rate. (2021)

Contextual Advertising

Aka contextual targeting, contextual advertising means matching your ad content to the website content. 


  • Placing an ad for dog treats inside a video about dog nutrition. 
  • Running an ad for financial coaching in a video tutorial on budgeting software.
  • Sticking an ad for “how to be a con artist book” in 99% of YouTube side hustle videos..

Last one’s a joke, but you get the point. 

Contextual advertising makes more sense than depending on third-party cookies. Yeah, you’re targeting someone based on a single data point— the video or article they’re viewing at this moment. Versus cookies with a hundred data points. I’ll take the one real-time data point over the 60 or so that may be irrelevant since they are dated.

The employment of contextual marketing among US marketers stands at 62% in 2023, marking an increase from 49% recorded in 2022. ~Marketing Splash

About 79% of consumers were more comfortable seeing contextual ads than behavioral ads. ~Spiceworks 

third party cookies

The Problem with Google’s Self-Serving Alternatives to Third-Party Cookies?

Mainly, the self-serving. More to it though.

Corporations that care a lick about privacy don’t get sued for $5 billion, and agree to pay up!

“Google continues to invent new privacy-invasive practices for users to opt out of. It’s never about privacy. If the Privacy Sandbox won’t actually help users, why is Google proposing all these changes?” – Electronic Frontier Foundation

The Googster’s Privacy Sandbox will increase their monopoly, without a doubt. What is full of doubt? How marketers (and which ones) will benefit from this Sandbox.

On to Google’s Topics API… that’ll save marketers and mankind, right🍿? 

“…more likely to reduce the usefulness of the information for advertisers than to provide meaningful privacy protections.” Thomson concluded that the new [Topics] API would “create a strong bias” towards large industry players…

…it is hard to identify concrete ways in which this might be improved.”~Mozilla Engineer Martin Thomson 

To end any doubt that Google could not care less about doing what’s best for marketers or mere mortal humans, let’s close with this…

Google pays nearly $400 million to settle location-tracking lawsuit. Ken Nugent could give up the ambulance chase and make a living off suing the Goog-Crew. 

More below: The Knowledge Base, some Tracy Chapman Self-Help, and Today’s Hack suggests pausing to knock up revenue.

Visitors Land On Your Landing Pages Then Poof💭

Ever been gobsmacked by all the websites you’ve forgotten about?

You see the site name while cleaning up your Google Drive or sorting through your browser history and you’re like, “I forgot all about that site.”

Think about how many people have the same experience with your website. They were once interested but clicked away. After that day, they never thought about your site again.

Not because your offer was no good. Or that the price was too high. Or that the copy wasn’t compelling. They could have bounced for a hundred different reasons!

Would’ve been nice to have more than one shot at them, right? But they didn’t opt in to your email list. 

Good news. You don’t have to depend on that ONE touchpoint anymore.

Smart Recognition collects verified email addresses of those website visitors for you. This AI-powered lead generation tool sends the addresses right to your ESP so you can put them in your email marketing workflow! This gives you multiple touchpoints to convert visitors.

Stop losing revenue you could easily rake in via your anonymous traffic. Schedule a free demo of Smart Recognition to make your landing pages up to 9 times more effective as lead generators.


**US-only audiences & monthly traffic of around 15k

⭐Learn how to get a 7-day free test drive

Knowledge Base

Knowledge is power, so are stupefying human tricks

Grab a slice of the $21.8-billion Valentine’s Day pie (9 email examples)

⚠️Marketers’ guide to cringe-free Gen Z slang (good luck w/ that)

🧑‍⚖️In case you need to sue Zuckerberg (too)

🧩Wasting gobs of time repurposing content? Try this

🤖23 AI tools (100% free & no suck included – video)

Self Help

I believe Tracy Chapman wrote and sang the greatest song in the history of eardrums.

Fast Car is that good.

Yet, it only hit #6 on Billboard’s charts back then. Also, there are 118 musical artists ahead of her in album sales.

(Don’t sleep on her other songs – she’s no one-hit wonder)

How would you like to have done something as amazing as Fast Car and still be staring up at 118 “more successful” people?

Chapman seems like she’s always had her head on straight. And is likely good with knowing she poured out the best that was in her. The results in dollars, trophies, and accolades pale in comparison to that internal knowledge. 

Pour out your best. Give little weight to outcomes. 

* Inbox Hackers Shout-out:

Teresa at Jamf (Apple security)

Bambi at BambiWeavil (marketing)

Facts and Stats

  • Scary: Survey says 51% of marketers will mandate human reviews for AI-generated content (other 49% rolling the dice? (Email Insider)
  • Cookies used in 78% of US programmatic ad buys across industries as of Q3 2023 (33Across)
  • Over 27% of US consumers made online payments with voice assistants (Statista 2022)

Bonus: What novel metric is increasing conversions up to 137%? Answer – attention quality 

The Perplexing Power of They

Why do some emails get insanely high open rates? 

Because those emails are triggered by the recipient→ they take an action. Examples:

  • Welcome emails after they sign up
  • Shipping confirmation email after they buy running shoes
  • Reminder email after they abandon their cart

They trigger those emails— the recipient —No wonder they want to open them.

Inbox Mailers’ triggered emails work on this principle.

Your subscribers receive your triggered emails while they’re actively reading emails. So naturally, they also open your triggered email arriving at that moment.

See Inbox Mailers in action, schedule a free live demo. 


Today’s Hack

Get Hacking

Busy as a bee with its butt ablaze. We’re all so busy that making two minutes for chatting with a customer or client is time we don’t have.

Make time. Follow the example of a multimillion-dollar landscaping company I just read about.

“We knock on your door after every visit.”

That quote’s prominent on the company homepage. Why? I guarantee it leads to extra work and referral work.

Without a door knock, additional work and revenue might go to a competitor. Those competitors will come knocking one day – in person, in a postcard, in an email, so make time to knock before they do.

Don’t let busyness cause you to avoid the people who hand their hard-earned money over to your business.

Please share Inbox Hacking with a friend in the marketing world. Sharing means better dog treats for the pups at my feet.🐕‍🦺🐕

Other Inbox Hackers liked:

Cookie Monster: Google prepares to finish off -party cookies

Google Chrome third-party cookie phase-out (why are marketers being passive?)

First taste of upcoming Super Bowl ads (starring Gronk, Lynch, Polamalu)

Seth’s last line is dead wrong (avoiding new technology)