3 Strategies To Bring Your Audience And Advertisers Closer In A Cookie-Less World

cube with cookie sticker on a keyboard

By Steve Alperin, CEO of SurvivorNet

The ground is already shifting when it comes to cookies. While Google gave marketers something of a reprieve, moving the full ban to late 2023, everyone has a chance to continue exploring alternatives to deal with a cookie-less advertising ecosystem.

And make no mistake, the ground is shifting: Fewer than one-third of iPhone users have told Apple they want their apps to track them.

During this transition period, I thought it might be helpful to share a bit about our approach to cookies (or the lack thereof). At SurvivorNet, the leading platform for cancer information, we believe in a three-pronged approach to judging whether we do a good job for advertisers: context, engagement, and data. In this last category, we try to give the user something that helps make their life better, and in exchange, they tell us something about themselves.

As a mission-driven platform, our singular goal is to bring cancer expertise to everyone. Your mission may be different, but this approach can be universally applied.

Information from our users: Give audiences a compelling reason to opt-in

With the demise of cookies, data collected directly from users is now a priority for many marketers. SurvivorNet helps cancer patients, so for us, the privacy and personal preferences of our users steer every data decision.

To collect this data from our audience, we’ve found that it’s important to provide content and delivery methods that they can’t find anywhere else. For example, newly diagnosed cancer patients can opt into a “First 60” series – 20 emails in 60 days to help them and their families make the right decisions after a diagnosis. Other opt-in email products include a series for caregivers, help with mental health and sexuality, and even guides for specific medications.

Engagement: Use best-in-class content and storytelling to engage audiences

If a user goes online and views two, three or five pages of content about specific cancer on cookie-driven sites, it’s generally safe to say they have the disease or someone they love has it. Sure, that tells you something about them. But at SurvivorNet, we’ll take five minutes of time spent per user on disease-specific content over the cookie model — that span multiple pages and sites — any day. Why? Because that valuable time allows us to provide users with a combination of accurate content and emotion-based storytelling. In our experience, that formula can greatly increase engagement and, ultimately, opt-in rates.

Don’t underestimate the power of your content. No matter your mission, you can use accurate content and powerful storytelling to help people feel better, less alone, or empowered to make an important decision. Show that you’re a reliable source for information and that you’re dedicated to giving people the tools they need. Organic engagement will follow.

Context: Offer ads at the right time and in the right place.

When a SurvivorNet user scans a menu and clicks on their specific cancer, they are taken through an experience that includes an overview of that disease, prevention and screening, symptoms and diagnoses, treatment and relapse. Ads are served specifically to help users during the different parts of their journeys.

These contextual strategies get advertisers as close as possible to the audience. By constantly testing your advertising contextually and creatively, marketers can play more of an active role in a user’s informed decision-making process, without reliance on cookies.


As you experiment with life beyond cookies, think about how to collect first-party data more seamlessly; fully engage your audience through carefully curated content and powerful storytelling; and continually improve your contextual strategies and tactics.

At SurvivorNet, we live and breathe cancer. When your brand achieves that level of commitment, success — with or without cookies — is bound to come.