Strategies for e-commerce brands in a cookieless world: In the age of privacy

With data privacy concerns rising, traditional cookie-based tracking is fading. Rajeev Garg, Co-founder and CCO, ETML, reveals why E-commerce brands must now focus on first-party data, zero-party data, and contextual advertising.

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With data privacy becoming increasingly crucial and cookies are on the verge of crumbling, privacy-first marketing has become the new norm. A survey by the Internet and Mobile Association of India (IAMAI) found that 72% of Indian internet users are concerned about their privacy. The same survey found that 62% of Indian internet users have taken steps to protect their privacy, such as using ad blockers or deleting cookies. Here’s how this cookie-less landscape can be navigated by e-commerce brands.

Introduction to privacy-first marketing

Traditional data-driven marketing relied heavily on third-party cookies for tracking user behavior. However, growing privacy concerns and regulations like GDPR and CCPA are making these methods obsolete. Advertising giants have already taken decisions to phase out third-party data with Chrome phasing out of third-party cookies and Apple’s iOS privacy update. Marketers have to think afresh to make advertising relevant and profitable.

By privacy-first marketing, consumer privacy is prioritized through transparency about data collection, explicit consent is obtained, and users are given control over their data.

Navigating data collection shifts

With the decline of third-party cookies, the focus is moving from detailed user tracking to broader audience insights. Collection of first-party, zero-party, contextual advertising is gaining importance. Additionally, being transparent about data collection and offering straightforward opt-in/opt-out choices are now crucial practices.

Prioritizing consumer privacy and building trust through transparent data practices

Consumers are increasingly aware of how their personal information is used. Prioritizing privacy not only builds trust but also aligns with ethical business practices. Stronger customer relationships and enhanced reputations are likely to be built by brands that respect consumer privacy.

  • Clearly outlined data collection: The privacy policy should be easy to understand, detailing what data is collected, why, and how it will be used.

  • Transparency about third-party sharing: Customers should be informed if their data will be shared with third parties

  • Data access and updates: The ability to access and update personal information should be given to customers.

  • Explicit consent for sensitive information: Clear consent should always be obtained before collecting sensitive data like payment method details.

  • Opt-in/opt-out options: The choice of whether to share their data should be offered to customers, demonstrating respect for their privacy.

  • Secure connections: HTTPS should be implemented to ensure data exchanged between users and the website is encrypted.

Here are some key tips for adapting to a cookie-less world and staying ahead of the curve:

Building first-party data: Nearly 83% of marketers rely on the data gathered by third-party cookies to inform their digital campaigns and it is time to move on. With third-party cookies no longer an option, building and utilizing your own first-party data will become crucial for targeting and personalization. This means collecting data directly from your customers through channels like sign-up forms, surveys, and loyalty programs. For instance, we at ETML have helped one of our clients who was facing challenges in generating high-quality leads at scale. By seamlessly transferring SQL data from their CRM using Adbytzz 2.0, which contained offline information, to advertising platforms in real-time using CAPI, we optimized the campaign to prioritize acquiring high-quality leads over lead volume. This strategic shift resulted in a decrease in the cost per acquisition while maintaining lead quality. Specifically, our approach led to a 20-50% reduction in the cost of acquiring quality leads, with a significant increase in spending, ranging from 2x-6x the initial scale. 

Utilizing zero-party data : Zero-party data is information that customers voluntarily provide to businesses, such as through surveys or quizzes. This data offers marketers valuable insights into customer preferences and intentions, allowing for highly personalized experiences. It empowers customers with control over their data and the experiences they receive, fostering trust. By leveraging zero party data, businesses can create more relevant and engaging marketing campaigns, strengthening their connection with their audience. 

Utilize alternative identifiers: While third-party cookies may be going away, there are still other types of identifiers available such as device IDs which could potentially replace cookies in some capacity.

Embracing contextual advertising: Contextual advertising focuses on targeting ads based on the content of a web page rather than relying on individual user data collected by cookies. This approach allows businesses to reach their target audience without relying on personal information or tracking technology. 


In today’s digital landscape, privacy is becoming a growing concern for consumers. As the use of cookies and data tracking becomes more restricted, marketers must adapt their strategies to maintain success in this new cookie-less world. By implementing privacy-first marketing tactics such as transparent data usage policies and building trust with customers, businesses can continue to reach their target audience while respecting their privacy. It is crucial for companies to stay ahead of these changes and prioritize consumer privacy in order to thrive in the evolving market.

This article is penned by Rajeev Garg, Co-founder and CCO, ETML.

Disclaimer: The article features the opinion of the author and does not necessarily reflect the stance of the publication.

consumer privacy cookies audience insights Contextual advertising data tracking data privacy First-Party Data