Mission Critical: Getting to Grips with Third-Party Cookie Deprecation

After several delays, 2024 will see the final demise of third-party cookies and the start of a new era of digital advertising. While Google has been teasing us with their deprecation for years, time is finally up for third-party cookies and maintaining the status quo is no longer viable.

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With August seeing us wave goodbye to third-party cookies for good, it’s now or never to get your brand ready.

What Impact will Third-Party Cookie Deprecation Have?

The phasing out of third-party cookies will have a ripple of consequences across various parts of the digital ecosystem, namely within three main areas; Data Measurement & Performance, Ad Targeting & Personalization, and Retargeting.

Data Measurement & Performance: Arguably the most invested areas in digital tracking are conversion and campaign management. The loss of third-party cookies will make it more difficult to determine the precise efficacy of these activities.

Ad Targeting & Personalization: Third-party cookies were a major tool to track online user behavior and show highly targeted adverts. The loss of third-party cookies will make it more difficult to target particular users based on their browsing history and/or interests.

Retargeting: The loss of third-party cookies will make it more difficult to retarget users. Advertisers and marketers will need to look for new approaches to reconnect with prospective consumers.

Take a look at our selection of tailored solutions for privacy compliant advertising to help mitigate the impact.

Are You Ready?

Embracing the transition is now a necessity, and there are three key questions you can ask that’ll help establish if your brand is ready: 

  1. Have you set up consent mode?
  2. Have you implemented enhanced conversions?
  3. Is your infrastructure ready to collect and import offline data online?

If the answer to any of these is no, then it’s time to get your head out of the sand, and look to the future.

How Can I Prepare for the Loss of Third-Party Cookies?

There are a number of things to take into consideration ahead of August that’ll help your brand combat the loss of third-party cookies and maintain a similar level of targeting (in a more privacy conscious way).

  1. Maximize First-Party Data Collection
  2. Strengthen your CRM System
  3. Stay Informed
  4. Embrace Google Analytics 4
  5. Deploy Consent Mode
  6. Deploy Enhanced Conversions
  7. Deploy Conversions API
  8. Explore the Privacy Sandbox
  9. Implement Server Side Tagging

Remember the first thing you need to do is accept and understand the impact that a third-party cookie phase out will have. This is a big technical change and you will likely see fluctuations in both visibility and performance – it’s to be expected.

Maximize First-Party Data Collection

Wherever possible, look to maximize your first-party data collection, encouraging users to share their information with you in a transparent manner – ensuring that your foundations for the new era of digital ecosystem are solid and reliable. From here you can use first-party data to leverage advanced insights into customer behavior (with GA4 audiences), re-engage customers who’ve interacted with your properties (via tag based audiences), and utilize omnichannel data to engage with your customers (via Customer Match & CRM Lists).

Learn to Live with First-Party Data

Strengthen your CRM System

Look to leverage maximum impact from your customer relationship management strategy, while strengthening your CRM system to manage and maximize the value of data collected from customers. This can include email lists, customer behavior and purchase history. Try and identify something that stands out specifically for you and can give you that competitive edge. 

Stay Informed

Be open and receptive to the various solutions available to help tackle the loss of third-party cookies. The ecosystem is rapidly changing and it’s critical to stay informed about industry developments and evolving technologies. Invest time in ongoing education and training as it can provide valuable insights into emerging trends and best practices.

Embrace Google Analytics 4

GA4 has been designed with a focus on user privacy and data protection, in line with evolving privacy regulations and user expectations. The standout example for this would be the capabilities of conversion modeling which helps to fill in gaps that may occur in conversion measurement. GA4 lays the foundation for a solid tracking setup and helps to tie together data from different online marketing channels such as Google Ads, DV360 or Meta Ads.

Learn to Optimize Reporting in GA4

Deploy Consent Mode

Google’s Consent Mode lets users opt-in or out of sharing their information on a website, while enabling businesses to adjust tag behavior accordingly. Deploying consent mode into your operations facilitates transparent user consent acquisition and allows you to collect conversion signals without compromising privacy. It also proves invaluable in addressing the gaps that arise when users refuse to share their data, thanks to its exceptional conversion modeling capabilities. 

How to Integrate Consent Mode

Deploy Enhanced Conversions

Enhanced Conversions is designed to enhance the accuracy of your conversion tracking and  provide better signals to your bidding strategies. It seamlessly integrates with your existing conversion tags, ensuring the secure transmission of hashed first-party conversion data from your website to Google, while prioritizing user privacy. Google then matches your hashed first-party customer data (email, phone number etc.) with signed-in Google accounts that engaged with one of your ads, resulting in better attribution of your conversions.

How to Set Up Enhanced Conversions

Deploy Conversions API

Conversions API (CAPi) allows you to share customer actions from your server, website, or CRM directly to Meta. A server to server integration can pass through better quality data to continue to feed your campaigns. Instead of sharing data via a browser, you can use CAPi to exchange data directly from your server – gaining valuable insight into ad performance without compromising user privacy. CAPi allows you to improve your advertising strategy while reducing reliance on less secure and less private tracking methods.

Explore the Privacy Sandbox

The Privacy Sandbox is an industry-wide effort, driven by Google, to improve the protection of users’ privacy online. Instead of allowing companies to collect specific details about consumers, the Privacy Sandbox proposes methods where privacy is maintained. Allowing you to offer personalized content and ads, without compromising consumer privacy.

Google Promises Privacy Sandbox Solutions

Implement Server Side Tagging

By moving your existing tracking set up to a server side configuration, you will be able to utilize the most data possible from each user. Server side tagging can be implemented through a server-side Google Tag Manager container and is compatible with Google Ads, GA4 and CM360 tracking. This allows for the gathering of user data in a first-party, privacy safe environment and additionally, it gives you more control over the data that is shared.

As the clock ticks down to third-party cookie deprecation, proactive preparation is paramount. By staying informed, addressing immediate concerns, and implementing a strategic action plan, you can navigate this transition successfully and maintain the efficacy of your marketing strategies.

To learn more about how to prepare for a cookieless future, take a look at our most recent webinar: Countdown to Third-Party Cookie Deprecation – Accelerating Your Privacy-First Strategy or check out how Incubeta can help you get privacy ready in 2024.

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