Third-Party Cookies and the Kardashians

by Joy Brazelle

What are two things that are never going away, Alex? 

(Well, not any time soon anyway).

Note:  Believe it or not, I do actually research (some of) these posts.  That said, some of the ‘facts’ and times are directionally accurate – but may not be precise.  So haters, don’t be fact-checkers.

I remember shortly after moving to Myrtle Beach I saw an episode of Entertainment Tonight (ET), or some other show like it, about two famous friends, Paris Hilton and Kim Kardashian.

I have to say I struggled to see why they were on ET, how they were famous.  Sure, I got that Paris’ last name was HIlton.  And Hilton has been a successful hotel brand since 1919.  Yes.  A wealthy, attractive, well-put-together, fun-loving socialite.  Who wouldn’t want to watch her life?

And her BFF (stylist, assistant?) Kim Kardashian’s dad was Robert Kardashian.  Part of the famous, ‘If the glove doesn’t fit, you must acquit (OJ’s) defense.  Another super confident, attractive, fun-loving socialite.

But neither, back then, were the Charlize Therons nor Renee Zellwegers.  Yet their lives were exciting train wrecks that I just had to watch.

So why do I bring this up?  Well, around this time, digital advertising, specifically pay-per-click was beginning to also explode.  And with this – tracking and analytics started to bust into the spotlight  

Back to Tinsel Town


Although still best friends, Paris embarked on an early day reality tv show with another buddy, Nicole Richie, ‘The Simple Life.’  The show started in 2003 and lasted until 2007.  Although Kim made appearances on some episodes, the focus was on Paris and Nicole.

Behind the scenes, Kim was not simply (get it) lying low (also get it – the infamous tape).  In an ultimately calculated but seemingly ‘make it up as you go endeavor,’ ‘Keeping Up With the Kardashians (KUWTK)’ debuted in 2007.

Connecting the Dots

So, I can’t connect the dots. 

What does this have to do with analytics or marketing, or really anything?  OK – here we go.  This is where I make the connection between Paris and Kim and FPD and TPC (the infamous first-party data and third-party cookie).

I would say Paris is definitely team FPD.  Classic, her ‘brand’ has been around since 1919.  Well known, structured.  Just like SQL and other relational databases, the home of first-party data.

And Kim, definitely TPC.  As stated, seemingly make it up as you go – but behind the scenes, calculated, well planned out, yet able to pivot in a pinch.  We’ll call the browsers (someday would be Chrome, but as of 2006, it would be Lindsay Lohan, or Firecr…umm, I mean Firefox)  ‘momagers’ – somewhat behind the scenes, they capture and store data and, more importantly, use it and potentially exploit it when it is to their advantage (maybe leak a tape???)

And back to reality…2007

Something funny had happened.  Paid search (PPC), display, email, social – all sorts of digital advertising had exploded.  Tracking ‘snippets’, tags, pixels abounded.  And what did this mean?  The boom of the third-party cookie.  Sure companies could track the actual performance of their advertising in their databases, using their first-party data.  But no, it was faster, easier, cheaper to rely on the ol’ TPC.

Hola Kim!  Adios Paris!

And fast forward to a decade since I began following this, 2012 -2013.  Kim and her Krew (the Kardashians) are EVERYWHERE.  Paris, where are you?  We miss you.

TPC – you are EVERYWHERE!

At that time I was working at IBM (Coremetrics).  I remember using a browser plugin to research how many tracking pixels Godiva.com had.  It was more than 30, maybe more than 50.  I was flabbergasted.  This was also the beginning of the heyday of tag managers.  But, that is another story for another day (I think I have said that more than once:)

2020 – Two shocking announcements….

Chrome will deprecate all third party cookies by 2022
KUWTK’s final episode aired June 3rd, 2021

Tough news, marketers are scrambling.  Loyal fans are devastated.  

2021 – But wait.  What is happening?

Is Paris coming back into the spotlight ? She is getting a lot of attention from her documentary film, ‘This is Paris.  And she is getting married – an event that will be documented on ‘Paris in Love’’.

And first-party data is coming back into the spotlight (it’s also the talk of the town and everywhere else).  And, not to mention so is contextual advertising, (a la CTV/OTT), another throwback to the time of the Simple Life.

The end of KUWTK happened this past June.  But wait – it may not be over.  But it is not really over.

And finally, the TPC’s stay of execution.  There was hype, and panic, and perhaps a  ‘bury my head in the sand and ignore it’ reaction to the demise of the TPC.  But it seems the ‘bury my head’ approach was not wrong.  What was looming over marketers’ heads – TPC being extinct by  2022 is now a thing that may or may not be a thing until the end of 2023.

Apparently, it was some regulations in the UK that granted this stay.  But although we all breathed a sigh of relief, just like the coverage of the proceedings in the UK were somewhat low key and under the radar – so was the comment that although the ‘plan’ is to hold off on deprecating the TPC until the end of 2023, it is possible that Google will find an alternative to the TPC that is acceptable before then.

So, I guess, in conclusion:
The Kardashians and third-party cookies are never going away – well, not anytime soon.  But Paris is staying classy and making her comeback, along with first-party data.

Joy Brazelle

Solutions Lead

I’ve spent over 18 years helping clients use analytics to improve the performance of their websites , SEO, paid search and other marketing programs, with a brief detour to the FinTech worlds to see how alternative payment options impact the very, very bottom of the funnel.

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