Trend overview

Cookies are small files generated by websites and stored on users' computers to track internet browsing. However, their relevancy and usefulness from an advertising perspective have diminished.

A combination of advances in technology, changes to consumer behaviour and upcoming amendments to data privacy regulation has impeded the ability of brands to use cookies as a primary method of delivering targeted communications.

Two-thirds of the devices used to connect to the internet do not support cookies in the traditional manner, meaning brands using cookie-based identification lose sight of potential customers as soon as they switch to non-desktop devices, from mobiles and tablets to smart speakers and connected cars.

Even in the case of the mobile web the picture looks bleak. Apple's Intelligent Tracking Prevention feature – launched in September 2017 – blocks the use of cookies and tracking software on its Safari browser altogether. Ad tech firms have created temporary 'workarounds', but Apple continues to issue updates to block their circumventions.