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Bite Into The Bigger Picture: Third Party Cookies

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22nd February 2024 in

The much talked about third-party cookie deprecation is finally taking effect.

What’s Changed?

As of January 2024, Google has introduced the ‘Tracking Protection’ feature to 1% of its user base. This feature prevents websites from storing cookies in a user’s browser. Without these cookies, the ability for advertisers to create personalised ads based on a user’s browsing history is significantly limited.

‘Tracking Protection’ comes at a time where users are increasingly more aware, and protective, of their privacy online. It’s one of Google’s latest moves in an industry-wide push for brands to use first-party data to maintain their advertising effectiveness.

Google projects that phasing out third-party cookies for Chrome users, all three billion, will occur by the end of 2024.

Read on to understand what this transition means for you and how to be prepared.


First-Party Data

“Gathering first-party data is more important than ever,” says Brodie McMaster, Bonfire’s Senior Performance Media Specialist.

“You need to truly understand your audience and not solely rely on algorithmic interest-based or broad targeting, as this targeting stands to become more generic with third party cookie deprecation.” Brands that collect data directly from their customers will maintain the ability to engage in effective contextual targeting, with or without third-party cookies.

Examples of first-party data that will help you maintain contextual targeting include:
• Purchase History: Knowing what your customers have purchased gives insight into their preferences and potential future purchases.
• Personal Details: Information such as age, gender, and location provided by the user at checkout can help you tailor your marketing efforts to the specific segments of your audience.
• Page History: Identifying the pages a visitor checked before making a purchase can offer clues about what information or reassurances customers need.
• Content Engagement: Sign-up forms for newsletters, deals and downloadable resources allow you to identify the interests of your audience and their receptivity to different types of offers.

This data can be gathered through direct interactions with your customers, whether it be through your website, Customer Relationship Management (CRM) software, surveys, or any other digital or physical interaction with your products and services.

By focusing on the rich insights provided by first-party data, companies can reduce dependency on external data sources.


What Do I Do Now?

The first step to future-proofing your brand for a world without third-party cookies is to assess & understand how you’re currently utilising them.

Third-party cookies will most likely be used if you rely on:

  • Embedded content shared from external sites, such as videos, maps, tracking codes (like Meta’s Pixel), and social posts.
  • Widgets from external services such as payments, calendars, booking, and reservation functionality.
  • Widgets such as social buttons or anti-fraud services.

Ensuring you minimise your reliance on third party cookies for tracking & targeting, typically requires the skills of a website developer – especially when considering the implementation of additional privacy-centric solutions such as Server-side tracking, Google Ads Enhanced Conversions & Privacy Sandbox and Meta’s own Conversions API. Marketing Managers are often expected to have expertise in an extraordinary range of skillsets, so our recommendation is that you advocate for the budget you need to hire a professional who can to make your transition from third-party cookies smoother.

Google’s Privacy Sandbox Analysis Tool will show the usage of third-party cookies during a browsing session on your website. If you identify cookies set by third parties, which you believe your brand relies upon, you should check with those providers to see if they have plans for the third-party cookie phaseout.

Read this article by Google for more information on auditing third-party cookies:

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