The Cookie Conundrum — A B2B History Lesson

by / Sep 21, 2021

By mid-2023, B2B marketers will be cutting cookies from their diets. Google announced it will be joining Safari and Firefox in their efforts to block third-party cookies from its Chrome web browser. While the breaking of this news did cause some alarm, the banning of third-party cookies is an inevitable next step in the long series of consumer privacy protection initiatives. According to a survey by The Conference Board in collaboration with Nielsen, “Globally, 44% of consumers would be willing to forego customized content — such as personalized messages, offers and experiences — in exchange for not having their personal information collected. US consumers are especially reticent: Over 57% would give up customization for greater privacy.”

B2B marketers should openly embrace their new diet. There will be some growing pains as B2B organizations learn how to cater to the privacy demands of potential clients. However, the third-party cookie ban will only usher in new strategies that cut the fat of unreliable data collection and help form more personalized, targeted content that will have a greater impact on prospective B2B buyers. Before we discuss how to forge new marketing paths for the future of B2B, it is important to look back at the history of data privacy laws to view the evolution and anticipate what is yet to come.

The Evolution Begins…

Believe it or not, we need to travel back to a time before the internet. In 1974, computers were the height of technology and were used by the United States government to house personal data of U.S. citizens. Congress became anxious about the potential negligence and abuse of this data. As a result, the U.S. Congress passed the U.S. Privacy Act of 1974, which included four basic policy objectives:

  1. To restrict disclosure of personally identifiable records maintained by agencies.
  2. To grant individuals increased rights of access to agency records maintained on themselves.
  3. To grant individuals the right to seek amendment of agency records maintained on themselves upon a showing that the records are not accurate, relevant, timely or complete.
  4. To establish a code of “fair information practices” that requires agencies to comply with statutory norms for collection, maintenance and dissemination of records.

Between 1974 and 1998, other types of privacy protection acts were created in the United States including, but not limited to: the 1991 Telephone Consumer Protection Act (TCPA), which would eventually lead to the Do Not Call Registry, and the 1996 Health Insurance Portability and Accountability Act (HIPAA).  Outside of the U.S., in 1995, the EU Data Protection Directive was enacted to regulate the processing of personal data within the EU. But none of these directly correlated to online consumer protections.

Welcome to the World Wide Web

As the internet and home computers became more commonplace in the standard American home, government agencies realized the need to add more protections for the average web-surfing consumer. As the internet dialed its way into American homes, the U.S. government passed the Children’s Online Privacy Protection Act (COPPA) in 1998. This was soon followed by the 1999 Gramm-Leach-Bliley Act (GLBA), or the Financial Services Modernization Act. GLBA is a federal law requiring disclosure by financial institutions of how they share and protect private customer data. As more people started logging in, a steady increase of acts began to develop in certain states like California that alert citizens of data breaches and identify theft (The Red Flags Rule). At this point, B2B companies were forming advanced email marketing tactics as part of their strategies. Email lists grew as B2B marketers attempted to connect with anyone who might be interested in their services. But as emails came flooding into people’s inboxes, consumers wanted to know more about their data sharing options.

Privacy, Please!

B2B marketers should take note of this escalating trend. As technology continues to advance, the internet continues to develop and consumers become more sophisticated in their exploration of cyberspace. In other words, consumers want protection. Today’s internet users, especially the millennial and Gen Z generations whose lives were shaped by the internet, now understand terms like data, cookies, tracking and analytics. They want to know who has their information, how they got it and what it is being used for. In fact, AUDIENCEX reported, “Over 27% of all internet users use some form of internet blocking, which is a big problem for marketers.”

The push for consumer data privacy started in Europe with the 2018 General Data Protection Regulation (GDPR) law. This law protects against the transfer of personal data outside of the EU and European Economic Area. California soon followed suit with the 2020 California Consumer Privacy Act (CCPA) that regulates how businesses handle personal data for the residents of the golden state. Other states are starting to follow California’s lead and enact their own data privacy laws — such as Colorado, whose law will go into effect in 2023. Both the GDPR and CCPA created major hoops for B2B companies to jump through to be compliant. Suddenly, B2B marketers needed to rethink their email campaign strategies and include elements like opt-out options, which significantly edited many email lists.


of consumers would be willing to forego customized content.

The Conference Board, Consumers’ Attitudes About Data Practices

Learn From the Past; Plan for the Future

The data privacy movement can no longer be ignored. It’s a given that more states will enact their own privacy laws as we push further into the 21st century. B2B marketers should not panic and should instead view this privacy evolution as an opportunity to switch tactics to develop a more personal and meaningful marketing strategy. We have already discussed how B2B virtual events can play a momentous role in developing more targeted campaigns and personalization. And we will be discussing more tactical tips for living a marketing life without third-party cookies for account-based marketing (ABM) strategies in upcoming blog posts.

Google’s restrictions on third-party cookies are only the beginning of B2B marketing’s embrace of authentic connections and impactful partnerships. It is important to never forget the human element of any marketing strategy in order to keep pace with the ever-changing digitally driven customers’ expectations. If B2B organizations can take the time to read the signs of the consumer privacy evolution, they will be ahead of the curve instead of stuck in the past.

The Mx Group

The Mx Group is the second-largest independent, integrated B2B marketing agency in the U.S., with a mission to impact the marketplace for companies that impact the world. For over 30 years, we’ve created meaningful end-to-end buying experiences for B2B brands. Our clients are leaders and innovators in automotive, financial services, food, health care, legal services, oil and gas, industrial, packaging, trade associations, technology and SaaS who rely on our expertise to influence and grow their businesses. Our relationships with our clients and people are why B2B Marketing recognized us as Agency of the Year. Our headquarters are in Chicago, but our reach is global. Whether a client is an established or startup B2B brand, we have the people and perspective to be a strong partner that makes a difference.