Choice and Transparency in a Post-Third-Party Cookie World

Marketers woke up in May 2021 to a brave new world where consumers were empowered to turn the tap off app tracking data and third-party cookies.  For some, panic set in whilst for others it’s simply forcing us to focus on what really matters to consumers. In this article, we take a deep dive into what this really means for marketers.

Nick Cantor, Co-founder & Digital Director at The Walk Agency said:

For many marketers, this will cause a shift in how they work, but from our perspective, we’re thrilled to live in a post-third-party cookie world.

When Apple iPhone’s App Tracking Transparency feature launched, advertisers and marketers around the world had major concerns surrounding how they’d be able to continue capturing customer data for business purposes. Simultaneously, Apple customers were becoming increasingly aware of their privacy and confidentiality rights.

As a result, there was a huge uptake in customers deciding to opt-out of tracking and sharing their data with Apple. Businesses have had to rethink their strategies when it comes to capturing customer data.  Those that can deliver innovative, authentic, personalized marketing will be the winners. A case in point is Apple and Uber who by using Zero-Party Data, have managed to enrich the lives of their customers by providing more relevant, meaningful experiences…

Apple Builds Trust through Transparency

Zero-party data is data that a customer intentionally and proactively shares with a brand. It includes preference center data, purchase intentions, personal context, and how the individual wants the brand to recognize them. ZPD differs from first-party data (FPD) which is audience data collected (and owned) by brands during their interactions with customers.

Lastly, second-party data (SPD) is any source data that is collected and owned by a brand. Third-party cookies are cookies that collect data that is used by a third party. They are typically used in remarketing campaigns where a customer who interacts with a brand on one platform can be targeted and shown ads on another platform.

The opportunity is with ZPD, where companies have the right to use customer data for a particular intent or value exchange. By announcing its App Tracking Transparency feature, Apple demonstrated its commitment to a higher level of transparency, increasing its perceived trustworthiness for customers.

The decision to notify customers about their choice to allow apps and websites to track their activity was controversial. After announcing the feature in June of 2020, Apple had delayed its installation, allowing developers more time to adapt to the new changes. The result? 96% of Apple users in the US decided to turn their tracking off and Australians weren’t dissimilar, choosing to opt-out at a 90% rate.

So developers can no longer legally rely on tracking tools without a user’s consent, nor can they use their data to infer information about individual consumers or consumer demographics (e.g., via retargeting). As a result, tensions flared between Apple and its competitors, like Facebook, who can no longer sell their advertisement opportunities to other businesses.

Apple’s bold move to increase its level of transparency and build trust within its global audience has influenced other companies to consider their brand values.


Patagonia leverages brand values of sustainability and social justice to make more meaningful connections with its community.

According to Forbes, “Over 90% of consumers say transparency by a brand is important to their purchase decisions.” So much so, that “94% of consumers are more likely to be loyal to a brand when it commits to full transparency.” For consumers who are tired of having their data stolen without their knowledge, a transparent marketing approach is incredibly refreshing.

Patagonia has demonstrated its trustworthiness through transparent communications around sustainability. The brand has been clear about its business mission which is to protect the environment and inspire social change. Patagonia took inspiration from their loyal customers for their latest initiative, Patagonia Action Works.


It’s a platform where environmentally-minded individuals can connect and work on environmental issues within their community. By communicating a clear brand purpose and environmental action, Patagonia took its relationship with its audience to a whole new level.

Patagonia also channeled their social values in their ‘FairTrade campaign.’ The FairTrade campaign cuts through, holding up a mirror to business owners and consumers with one question: “how is your clothing made?” By demonstrating the company’s stance against cheap labor, they showed that a commitment to Fair Trade can make a real difference.

Patagonia took its mission one step further. The company garnered consumer insights and decided to pay their workers’ a premium to improve their communities and elevate their standard of living.

Personalisation: Relevant Content and Experiences

Personalization is the blueprint for marketing these days, as businesses realize that tailoring messages to individual customers needs to yield a higher ROI. Businesses can make their content more meaningful and relevant to customers with just a handful of tweaks. Using a customer’s name or signing off with a team member’s name over a company name can make a real difference. For brands willing to take personalization even further, they’re experiencing great rewards.

Brands are taking ZPD data and optimizing it to improve business processes and happier customers. They’re enhancing customer experiences and encouraging repeat business. Uber uses ZPD to analyze usage patterns to maximize rider and driver efficiencies. These include scheduling approximate wait times for more enjoyable rider experiences and maximizing profits for drivers by notifying them about peak rideshare times and areas.

‘Uber Experiences’ is an example of how the company uses customer data effectively and to enhance the customer experience. The music played during your Uber ride can have a significant impact on the rider experience and Uber capitalized on this insight.

In March 2015, Uber announced it would permit app developers to incorporate an Uber button into their interfaces. It was the first time they introduced third-party companies, such as Spotify, to access its interface and recommend content such as playlists and news updates that fit the duration of that Uber ride. An Uber report by Button reported an 11% increase in the time spent by riders within the Uber app.

Another example of quality user experience is, of course, Uber Eats – a merging of the original rideshare app and traditional home delivery – and a genius solution to long delivery wait times. Since its launch in 2016, Uber Eats continues to evolve. Product manager, Chetan Narain, reflected on data that indicated Uber users were spending far more time on the Uber Eats app as opposed to the Uber app. These findings indicate that food purchases tend to be more of an emotional decision compared to rideshare which is more transactional.

After all, Uber Design Researcher, Hilary Hoeber says, “People eat with their eyes.” This insight has influenced the future design of the app homepage. Customers can choose from a smorgasbord of international cuisines captured by colorful food photography.

How Can Your Business Leverage These Marketing Trends?

Patagonia, Apple, and Uber are three global brands that effectively use ZPD to improve their customers’ lives. If you’re a brand that wants to make a big impact on your customers, encourage repeat app usage, purchases, and engagement you may need to reconsider your brand values. Trust, transparency, and personalized content are key to delivering the best customer experiences – a non-negotiable in a post-cookie world.

The Walk worked with Conquest Equipment to create a raft of website pages and content that was industry-specific and tailored to the type of surfaces needing to be cleaned. The improved user experience and more personalized content resulted in increased organic traffic and conversions. Contact The Walk Agency to discuss how you can offer more personalized brand experiences to your customers

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