The post-cookie world: 7 tracking alternatives you should consider


Third-party cookies have been behind the success of digital ads since the mid-1990s.  

They have been helping us show ads that match people’s interests by sharing info about what they do online. 

This was working great until people started worrying about their privacy and how their data was being used. The idea of companies tracking people has since become a big problem, so laws have become stricter about using these cookies. This is one of the reasons why big web browsers like Google are set to stop using third-party cookies by the end of 2024. 

But, don’t worry! In this article, we’ll talk about 7 tracking alternatives you can use instead of third-party cookies.  

7 tracking alternatives to third-party cookies  

Although the end of third-party cookies might sound like a lot to process, there are alternative ways to replace them. These tracking alternatives can help you keep showing relevant ads to the right people without compromising their privacy. 

The tracking alternatives are:  

  • First-party cookies, 
  • Contextual targeting, 
  • Unified ID solutions, 
  • Mobile Advertising IDs, 
  • Contextual analysis and AI, 
  • Email marketing, and  
  • Google’s Privacy Sandbox. 

Let’s explore these tracking alternatives in more detail.  

First-party cookies for building direct relationships  

First-party cookies are one of the first tracking alternatives that come to mind now that third-party cookies are going away. Unlike third-party cookies that collect data from other places, first-party cookies are made by the website your customers are visiting.  

First-party cookies remember things like your customers’ preferences and browsing history, which makes it easier for you to make their experience smoother and more personalized. They also help you personalize the content on your websites based on what your visitors like. 

Although less intrusive than third-party cookies, first-party cookies still collect data from your audience. For example, when you ask your visitors to sign up, subscribe, or log in, you are collecting data from them. The only difference is that you have consent to collect the data.  

In fact, transparency in this case is required by law in many countries (remember GDPR?). But beyond law, each interaction allows you to learn more about your customers and how they behave on your website.  

Using first-party cookies as a reliable tracking alternative for your business if you want to attract your target audience without third-party cookies is a great way to boost customer engagement and build trust and loyalty over time. 

Contextual targeting for understanding and delivering better content 

Contextual targeting is used in personalized advertising to understand the content of a website and deliver relevant ads to customers. The good news is that contextual targeting doesn’t require tracking users’ online behavior or their personal data. 

 So, how does this work exactly? 

Contextual targeting analyzes website content using different algorithms and decides to show ads that match what a customer is looking at on a website. For example, if someone is reading a blog about fashion, they might see ads for shoes or winter coats because they’re related to the topic of fashion.  

Some useful techniques for analyzing webpage content include: 

  • Keyword analysis: Allows you to identify relevant keywords on a webpage and match them with your ad content.  
  • Natural language processing (NLP) algorithms: Help you understand the context and feelings in the content and make sure the ads are a good fit for what people are reading. 

Using contextual targeting can be a great tracking alternative to ads that rely on third-party cookies. It makes it easier to reach and target people who are more likely to make a purchase. 

Plus, since the ads are related to what people are already reading, they’re more likely to catch people’s attention and get them to click. 

However, downsides to contextual targeting include:  

  • Sometimes, the algorithms might not get everything exactly right, so people might see ads that don’t fit what they’re interested in.  
  • Contextual targeting may use first-party cookies to show the right ads to the right people. 
  • If someone chooses to turn the cookies off on their web browser, it can make contextual targeting less effective. 

Overall, contextual targeting can be a powerful tool for reaching people online, but only when used carefully — making sure it meets people’s expectations and respects their privacy. Still, it’s one of the tracking alternatives worth considering.

Universal ID solutions for embracing transparency and consent 

Universal ID solutions can also be good tracking alternatives, especially for businesses that do a lot of cross-platform targeting.  

How do they work?  

A Universal ID represents a unique digital user ID that helps you identify users based on their digital profile and track them across different devices, websites, apps, social media platforms, etc.  

To create universal ID solutions, you must get explicit consent from customers and be transparent about how you collect and use their data. This way, you can:  

  1. Ensure compliance with privacy regulations and  
  1. Build trust with your customers. 

Moreover, universal ID solutions are great at helping you better understand your customers and deliver a more personalized experience. And the great thing is that you can achieve your marketing goals more responsibly while respecting your customers’ privacy.  

Some well-known universal ID examples include Unified ID 2.0 and IdentityLink. 

Mobile advertising IDs for tracking users across several devices 

In the past 10 years, mobile advertising has increased with more and more people now using the internet on their mobile devices. If you’re looking for a tracking alternative to third-party cookies, mobile advertising IDs might be an option worth considering.  

Usually, mobile advertising IDs are managed by mobile operating system providers in their customer data platforms. This makes them unique identifiers assigned to each mobile device. For you, this means using data mobile advertising IDs provide you with to: 

  • Identify individual users and target them on various mobile websites and apps, 
  • Understand your customers’ behavior and additionally personalize the content you create for them, and  
  • Use the data to improve overall user experience. 

Unlike third-party cookies, which are more generalized, mobile advertising IDs are specific to mobile devices. This allows you to target your audience more precisely and create ds that can truly resonate with them. 

However, you should be aware of the privacy concerns mobile advertising IDs raise. For example, some users may not be aware that they’re being tracked for targeting and advertising purposes, which raises questions about transparency in tracking practices. Also, some users may prefer not to be tracked by advertisers or publishers at all and would want to opt out of tracking entirely.  

Contextual analysis and AI for making the best of predictive insights 

With the decline of traditional tracking methods, AI and machine learning algorithms have become powerful alternatives for understanding how your customers behave and what they like. When it comes to compensating for the absence of third-party cookies, contextual analysis, and AI might be a worthy consideration.  

These technologies analyze contextual signals from the interactions of your users with different content, websites, and apps to predict what they might do next. This is one of the ways for you to boost your marketing efforts and additionally personalize the content you create for them. 

For example, if you want to deliver more personalized recommendations, AI can help you analyze and better understand your customers’: 

  • Browsing patterns,  
  • Past purchases, and  
  • Demographic information. 

Now, if you decide to implement AI-driven solutions, you should be very careful about user privacy. Transparency and data protection must be your top priority. The best way to go here is to allow your users to have control over their information, as well as to allow them to opt out of personalized experiences if they want.  

If you’re having trouble finding the right balance between personalization and privacy, Things Solver can help you. In addition to specializing in AI-driven solutions across several industries, we can assist you in bringing customer engagement and conversion rates up while maintaining trust. Don’t hesitate to book a free demo to find out more about how we can work together.  

Email marketing for direct communication with customers  

email marketing as a tracking alternative
Email marketing as a tracking alternative (Source: Pexels)

As one solution that offers direct engagement with customers, email marketing is one of the most promising tracking alternatives to third-party cookies you should consider. Especially if eager to do the tracking in a privacy-conscious manner.  

Email marketing is a direct channel for communicating with your customers while respecting their privacy. As you probably already know, email marketing relies on permission-based communication. This means that users willingly subscribe to receive updates and promotions from you or your brand.  

How can you make sure that your email marketing efforts are successful? 

Focus on building and nurturing email lists through: 

  • Offering incentives for sign-ups,  
  • Providing valuable content like product recommendations, exclusive offers or product updates, and  
  • Segmenting email lists based on user preferences and behaviors.  

Moreover, it’s paramount that you realize the importance of audience segmentation, considering that it can help you reach your target audience at the right time and with the right messages.  

Email marketing is a reasonable third-party cookie alternative because of two main things: 

  1. You have your customers’ consent to contact them and 
  1. You allow them to opt out of the emails you send when they decide they no longer wish to receive them.  

It’s worth a shot, especially since the most recent data speaks in favor of email marketing. Brands and companies that include dynamic content in their marketing emails record a 22% increase in ROI compared to those who never or rarely use it — $44 vs. $36 for every dollar spent.  

Google’s Privacy Sandbox to future-proof advertising strategies 

Finally, Google’s Privacy Sandbox initiative represents a pivotal development in handling the challenges we’ll face in the post-cookie era. Just a quick recap, Google’s Privacy Sandbox is an initiative whose goals are to:  

  • Build new technology to keep users’ information private,  
  • Enable publishers and developers to keep online content free, and 
  • Collaborate with the industry to build new internet privacy standards. 

One of the solutions proposed within the Privacy Sandbox is Federated Learning of Cohorts (FLoC). This approach groups users based on similar browsing behaviors rather than individual tracking. This would allow you to preserve the privacy of your users and still reach relevant audiences.  

Although there are other proposals within this initiative, moving forward means only one thing for any business — adapting your marketing and advertising strategies to align with Google’s Privacy Sandbox.  

Finally, transparency and user consent should always be your top priority if you’re looking to future-proof your advertising strategies and keep your customers close. They’ll certainly appreciate it! 

How to choose the best tracking alternative?  

As privacy regulations keep evolving and consumer expectations shift, we must adapt and embrace innovative strategies that prioritize transparency, user consent, and data protection. Although third-party cookies have been helping us create effective digital advertising solutions for a long time, they’ve also raised a fair share of privacy and security concerns.  

If you’ve been relying on third-party cookies way more than you should have, it’s high time you started figuring out your next moves. The post-cookie world is getting nearer by the day! 

Even without third-party cookies, there are still ways for you to track your customers and users in a safe and consensual way. Make sure to go over the tracking alternatives we discussed in this article to explore your options better. Remember to explore and experiment with these tracking alternatives until you’ve found the one that suits your business best. 

But if you remain unsure about what would be a good solution for your business, don’t hesitate to reach out to us at so we can further discuss your options.