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The Death of Third-Party Cookies and Opportunity in Podcast Advertising

From targeting and creative development to measurement, we offer the most advanced solutions to make your podcast campaign a success.

Acast Editorial Team
December 12, 2023

It sounds sinister but the death of third-party cookies has been a hot topic of conversation in digital advertising for some time now. It’s been four years since Google announced it’s phasing out cookies and collecting third-party data on Chrome, and it’s now saying it’ll complete this process by the end of 2024, joining Firefox and Safari that phased out third-party cookies years ago.

Advertisers have had plenty of time to prepare for what cookieless future has in store for digital marketing and how we collect data from users—and there’s still time yet.

The digital marketing ecosystem is no stranger to sweeping changes concerning consumer privacy. Back in 2019, the top courts in EMEA ruled that users within the European Union must actively consent to cookies analyzing them when they click on a website as part of new GDPR protection laws.

Interestingly, The European Center for Digital Rights, which campaigns for proper cookie menus, says that 90% of users click to accept all cookies, but only 3% want them. This suggests that consumers are becoming more aware of their own data privacy, data collection, and how advertisers use this data to target them.

Let’s crack open the cookie jar to explore how podcast advertising, contextual marketing, and first-party data can be leveraged in a cookieless world.

What are Cookies?

If you’re new to this term, cookies are a piece of data that a website can store in a user's browser (e.g. Chrome, Safari, Firefox) that tracks user behavior and allows the website or third-party to remember information and preferences of that user.

There are two types of tracking cookies:

First-party tracking cookies

First-party tracking cookies are used to track a user’s behavior on a specific website and allow it to remember what a user does on that one website over multiple visits—this optimizes user experience such as remembering login details and payment information, or recommending products or content based on previous browsing.

Third-party tracking cookies

On the other hand, third-party tracking cookies are created by an external source through a piece of code loaded on the website a user visits. Third-party cookies are usually created by advertisers and data aggregators through display ads, social media plugins, live-chat popups, or analytics tools used by a website.

Once third-party cookies are attached to a user, their behavior on the internet can be tracked by the third party that creates them, even across different websites. Third-party tracking cookies have been used extensively for online advertising and retargeting.

It’s these third-party cookies that are being phased out of internet browsers, as they’re seen as invasive to a user’s privacy.

Navigating a Cookieless World

So what does the phase-out of third-party cookies mean for you, an advertiser?

A cookieless future presents an opportunity for advertisers to expand their marketing media mix, strengthen their first-party data, and embrace contextual advertising to reach their target audience in less invasive ways, which consumers are increasingly demanding.

Companies are being forced to identify new ways to reach consumers and provide better experiences that drive meaningful interactions with the brand. As we navigate the post-cookie world, brands will need to engage with consumers through contextual advertising channels and start incorporating their first-party data into their marketing strategies.

Let’s take a look at these opportunities specifically through the lens of podcast advertising:

Contextual Advertising in Podcasting

Contextual advertising is the practice of delivering ads to audiences based on the content that’s being consumed. For example, if you were listening to a podcast about health and fitness, you might hear an ad for running shoes. Similarly, if you were browsing a technology news website, you might come across ads for laptops.

Contextual targeting is managed through the advertising network that owns or hosts the content, and it’s typically achieved by categorizing content through topics, keywords, genres, and other identifiers which allows them to match an advertiser with the most relevant content.

Research supports that people are much more receptive to contextual advertising vs other targeting methods, showing it boosts consumer interest by as much as 32%, versus the traditionally used demographic targeting. Also, when contextual advertising is presented to consumers, those exposed were 85% more open to future advertising than when there was no targeting.

Podcast advertising can be one of the most effective forms of contextual advertising. Unlike traditional forms of advertising, host-read sponsorships are seamlessly integrated into the content, making them more relevant and credible for the listeners—as the host endorses the brand or product themselves.

With the rising popularity of podcasting offering a rich and diverse catalog of topics, genres, and voices, and the ability to target specific groups through audience targeting, podcast advertising is a powerful channel to reach the right audience, at the right time.

Acast’s conversational targeting offering can also allow marketers to take a privacy-safe and hyper-contextual route by placing themselves at the heart of relevant conversations taking place across over 100,000 podcasts on our network. By targeting individual conversations, advertisers can go deeper into podcast content to position their brand in the most relevant way possible.

First-party Data in Podcast Advertising

Another way for advertisers to navigate digital advertising without third-party cookies is by embracing and strengthening their owned data, also known as first-party data. Simply put, this is user data that has been collected by the company itself, and includes things like:

  • Demographics
  • Interactions and engagement with the brand through a CRM system
  • Behaviors/actions taking place with the brand’s website/app
  • Subscription-based emails or products
  • Survey data

By integrating this data and customer insights into your marketing strategy, you can understand the buyer’s journey from start to finish. You’ll also be able to improve targeting, and cross-channel measurement, and increase messaging relevancy.

Research conducted by Think With Google and Boston Consulting Group highlighted that brands using first-party data in key marketing functions achieved a 2.9X revenue lift and a 1.5X increase in cost savings.

So how does podcast advertising fit into all this? As a pioneering company that invented Dynamic Ad Insertion (DAI), Acast likes to be at the forefront of seismic changes in the ad tech industry - and first-party data is no exception. Our first-party data targeting is a first-to-market in the podcast space, enabling advertisers to leverage their first-party data to target high-value podcast audiences across the Acast Marketplace.

In the past, brands couldn’t leverage first-party data insights into podcast advertising due to the inherent scarcity of user identifier data signals across the medium. But we know there’s a real desire for it: according to research, 88% of marketers say that collecting first-party data is a priority, and brands that use first-party data for key marketing initiatives see an uplift in revenue of nearly three times when compared to those that do not, which shows it pays to add this to your marketing strategy.

Acast has solved these challenges by developing an industry-first identity graph tailored for podcasting. Through a combination of IP address, as well as other unique listening consumption signals, the Acast identity graph will enable advertisers to onboard their first-party data and to find and match their high-value audience segments across the Acast Marketplace, creating new ways to target relevant audiences who consume podcasts.

Because Acast is platform agnostic, this first-party data targeting solution allows advertisers to target audiences across all listening platforms—including Apple Podcasts and Spotify, or wherever they are listening to podcasts. It means that advertisers can bring their user data to the mix, to find their exact audience. The new Acast identity graph and advertiser first-party data onboarding solution are now available in Acast’s US and Australian markets for both direct and programmatic advertising buys.


Digital marketers have always been adaptable, it’s par for the course in digital advertising where technology advances and policies change at a rapid pace. But the fundamentals remain the same: reaching the right audience, with the right message, at the right time.

As Google finally catches up and cleans up the crumbs on third-party cookies from the internet, marketers have an opportunity to build and strengthen their marketing strategies by embracing new and effective media channels such as podcasting, and incorporating first-party data into their wider advertising efforts—safe in the knowledge that consumer trust and privacy is respected.

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