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The Cookie Crumbles: The Rise of Zero-Party Data

Written by Alida

Published March 17, 2022

What’s better than a great cookie? The customer that made it. Every time.


For almost 25 years, since the internet first became a shopping destination, brands have relied on third-party cookies to track website behaviour and collect data that helps content, ads, and promotions find the right audience.

Third-party cookies are stored on the user’s device to enable tracking throughout the entire web within a specific browser (another good reason to clear your cache).

The cookie party is, for the most part, coming to an undistinguished end. Google has plans to phase out third-party cookies on Chrome browsers by 2022 (Firefox and Safari have already done it) and replace them with privacy-preserving APIs that prevent individual tracking. This means 87% of the browser market is going on a cookie-free diet.

In explaining their motivation, Google has said, “users are demanding greater privacy—including transparency, choice and control over how their data is used — and it’s clear the web ecosystem needs to evolve to meet these increasing demands.” (1)

While not all types of cookies will be disabled in 2022 (first-party cookies, directly stored by the websites you visit, will stay put), cookie-based digital advertising and monetization methods are certain to become less effective or even stop working altogether.

In this scenario, marketers face a two-prong challenge: privacy-aware consumers are building bigger walls to protect their information, yet they demand more personalized experiences that require deeper knowledge of their preferences and priorities. How do you gain the insight required with these walls in place? Even more pressing: how do you improve and enhance your customers’ experience without the cookie data crutch?



In spite of it all, there’s no reason to cry over the crumbling remains of the third-party cookie.

The information obtained through it has little to nothing to do with customer experience. Best case scenario, third-party cookies—collected over time and tied to an IP—provide segmentation and demographic info capable of assisting in the development of better messaging and advertising. To no one’s surprise, they are rarely used for that. More often than not, third-party cookies are used to deliver comparatively unreliable insights and rarely nourish brands’ relationships with their patrons.

Cookies also have an image problem: they can be seen as “creepy” by the general public. Customers don’t necessarily understand how they operate or how the collected data is going to be used. They even doubt if it will be used to their advantage because often isn’t: a recent Pew report found that 41% of American consumers regularly delete cookies from their devices (2). Given recent events like multimillion-dollar fines to companies for dropping cookies without consent, mistrust is a most reasonable reaction.

If you see this tide change as an opportunity, gathering zero-party data should be your first move.



Zero-party data is what a customer intentionally and proactively shares with a brand. It provides context at key moments of the customer journey, including purchase intentions and how they want the brand to recognize them. As a source of data to power campaigns and substantially improve CX, ZPD is almost impossible to beat.

More than a new technology, zero-party data represents a new mindset: instead of focusing on passively collected data, smart companies concentrate on the data that’s offered to them by the best source available: the consumers themselves. This means better, more accurate data from customers without any of the privacy concerns of the troubled third-party cookies. There’s only so much you can learn from cookie-generated behavioral data and you are certain to miss on the motivations behind your customers’ actions.

When you ask customers to provide their insight directly, they feel in control because they are rendering it voluntarily. This approach allows companies to get real answers, real context, instead of just aggregating data and lookalike assumptions.

Since more consumers are demanding better customer experiences, brands that do the work can build real relationships with them and earn their trust. In turn, customers willingly and enthusiastically provide the information required to build better CX.

Zero-party data is just the beginning of the customer journey. As engagement grows, loyalty follows. A two-way relationship with customers leads to opportunities to gain further insights, test assumptions and co-innovate. Focusing on your loyal customer base not only helps deliver more value, but could open up a new realm of opportunity to drive revenue. 

Companies that understand who their best clients are, design their strategy around them and significantly outperform those who design a strategy around the average customers.

Zero-party data fills the gaps to successfully understand your most frequent customers and enrich their experience. ZPD may only be the first step in the process of building relationships, but sets the foundation for everything that follows.



To rise to the occasion, brands must adopt tools designed to gather zero-party data and make the most of it:

  • Mobile and social media-friendly surveys that provide a quick way to engage individuals and collect feedback from demographics less likely to respond to traditional surveys.
  • Next-gen survey question types: visual, engaging, advanced multiple-choice, and logic-based research questions.
  • A customer insights platform that uncovers actionable earned data. This relationship-based approach progressively profiles the customer at every interaction, producing richer customer insights.
  • An insight community that enables your brand to share exclusive content to engage your customers and build a stronger relationship, which in turn can be leveraged into better insights.
  • Pre-built, customizable activities and reports that engage patrons and stakeholders from a specific field and transform data into actionable insights.


With the Alida Total Experience Management platform, gather the most comprehensive qualitative and quantitative zero-party data and make the most of it with our cutting edge analysis tools.

  1. Tweh, Bowdeya. “Google Chrome to Phase Out Third-Party Cookies in Effort to Boost Privacy.” Wall Street Journal, 14 January 2020, Accessed 25 February 2022.
  2. Glomb, Tim. “Say Goodbye to Cookies.” Harvard Business Review, 8 April 2021, Accessed 28 February 2022.

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