The Effect on Audience Reach by 3rd Party Cookies Expiration – April 2021

The Effect on Audience Reach by 3rd Party Cookies Expiration April 2021

What is actually the state of affairs when it comes to the expiration of Third Party Cookies?

Many tech providers that we speak with are surprised by the lack of questions from the “buy side”. Media agencies don’t inquire about the transition and the advertisers seem blissfully unaware of the state of affairs when it comes to the “Cookie Situation”. So the question is: what is actually the current situation?

BRAIN.MEDIA is a data platform and data enrichment service for publishers and through the network of our clients we process ca 150,000,000 page views each month. Based on this traffic we have been able to analyze and inventory the current cookie situation.

Based on this data we are able to analyse a large share of the Swedish users on a daily basis, in terms of how many are blocking 3rd party cookies today and how well 1st party IDs can be leveraged into audiences.

If we apply this to the 3rd Party Data:

  • Only 50% of the Page Views are targetable with 3rd Party ID-based Audiences
  • If 30% are new users also for 3rd Party Cookies it means that only 70% of the 3rd Party Cookies are targetable with campaigns (because 3rd Party IDs need to be cookie matched and transfered in order to be reachable).
  • 50% Page Views x 70% of 3rd Party Cookies = 35% reach in the 3rd Party ID-based Audiences.

The 1st Party Data Says:

  • On average 50% of all page views are blocking 3rd party cookies in Sweden
  • 30% of Page Views are from new users without any 1st Party IDs each month
  • 70% of the page views are “targetable” through recurring 1st Party Audience IDs

The Effect on the Campaign Reach

This means that if you are only using 3rd Party Audiences that are based on 3rd Party Cookies you are targeting less than 35% of the market. And moving towards ZERO by every day that passes. So, if you are not adopting new ways of using audience data you are missing out on some serious reach in your campaigns, especially when it comes to iOS-devices.

So what should you do and what can you do?

If you haven’t added 1st party audience data to your campaigns it is time to do it.

But what will be the difference you might ask.

Well the difference is that 1st party audiences will be able to target also devices that block 3rd party cookies, like Apple iOS-devices. In Sweden this is 40-50% of the Internet traffic. If we look at the above mentioned statistics 1st party audiences can increase the reach from 35% to 70% for audiences based on 1st Party IDs, doubling the reach of your campaigns – in the RIGHT audience.

And who has the 1st party audiences: The Publishers

The challenge is to find the publishers that are able to provide you with 1st party audiences. Brain is working with a few that are already there: Stampen Media and These publishers are not only using 1st Party Audiences, they use our ID.FREE data export that makes it possible to use audience data without sharing any IDs at all!

No IDs, what the heck!?

Yes, at Brain we try to push the technology to make the Internet a more integrity mindful place where privacy and data integrity is at the forefront. So we have created a ID.FREE data export that operates in real time without linking the audience data to any shared IDs or exposing any IDs at all.

Our ID.FREE export is done in real time, meaning that we don’t have to cookie sync or transfer even 1st Party IDs to other platforms. In our tests we can see that we are able to deliver audience data for targeting on 97% of the Page Views. Meaning that now we go from 35% to 97% reach in the Audiences!


  • Without IDs you are unable to frequency cap (but if you use an ID designated for frequency tracking not linked to the data, this might be solved)
  • ID-based attribution models will not work (but without 3rd party cross-domain tracking, neither will 1st party IDs)


  • Data is secure, not linked to any ID means it can’t be passed on and out of the publishers control
  • Data is linked to the Page View = if you want to use the data you need to buy the ad on the Page View
  • Data can be leveraged also on new users = increase reach by 30% (70% 1st party ID reach + 30% New User reach = what?)

So what should you do to increase your targeted reach?

Start by figuring out what publishers offer 1st party audiences (we know you can get it from Stampen Media & or maybe use a service like the DEAL.MAKER where you can buy data enriched deals that are delivered ID.FREE for maximum reach. Provided by Brain and Pubmatic SSP.

3rd party audiences still work so don’t stop using them quite yet. But understand that they might be going away or at least might not work 100% the same way as before. And by starting to adapt to the change you will transition into the new reality where marketing no longer is powered by cross-domain tracking and 3rd party cookies.

But make sure that the 3rd party audiences are comparable with the 1st party audiences. We think that a standardized audience taxonomy like the Brain Standard Taxonomy is very good because (well, we provide it 🙂 and leverages both old (3rd party) technology with new ID-safe technologies. But it is also created the same way everywhere, on both the buy-side and the sell-side.

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