How marketers should respond to a cookie-less environment in 2024

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Categorized in: Marketing Tips, News
Published on: May 5, 2024

Google’s announcement to phase out third-party cookies in Chrome by the end of 2024 has sent ripples through the digital marketing landscape. Understanding the impact of this change and preparing accordingly is crucial for marketers to maintain effective targeting and measurement strategies.

First, let’s define third-party and first-party cookies. Third-party cookies are created by domains other than the one a user is visiting directly. They are commonly used for tracking user behavior across multiple sites, enabling personalized ads and analytics. On the other hand, first-party cookies are created by the website a user is visiting and are primarily used for enhancing user experience, remembering login details and tracking basic session information.

The move by Google to eliminate third-party cookies aims to enhance user privacy and control over their online data. Personally, we think this is a good thing. However, this shift presents challenges for small business marketers who rely on these cookies for targeted advertising and audience segmentation.

Are other search engines, such as Safari, phasing out third-party cookies, too?

Yes, other major players in the tech industry, including Apple’s Safari browser, have also taken steps to limit or phase out third-party cookies. Safari introduced Intelligent Tracking Prevention to block third-party cookies and prevent cross-site tracking, aiming to enhance user privacy and security. Firefox, another popular browser, has implemented similar measures to restrict third-party cookie tracking.

To navigate this change effectively, small business marketers in Whatcom County should consider the following strategies:

  1. Focus on first-party data: With third-party cookies becoming obsolete, prioritize collecting and leveraging first-party data. Encourage users to opt into data collection through transparent consent mechanisms and offer value in exchange, such as personalized recommendations or exclusive content.

    Consent mechanisms are tools that allow users to actively choose whether they want to participate in data collection, marketing communications or other activities on the website. Opt-in forms typically provide clear information about what users are consenting to, such as subscribing to a newsletter, receiving promotional offers or allowing the website to collect certain types of data for personalization purposes.
  2. Utilize contextual targeting: Shift towards contextual targeting, which focuses on the content of the webpage rather than user behavior. This approach allows you to align ads with relevant content, improving engagement and reducing reliance on third-party data.

    For instance, if a user is reading an article about gardening tips on a website, contextual targeting would involve showing ads related to gardening tools, plants or landscaping services.
  3. Explore alternative tracking technologies: Investigate alternative tracking technologies such as cohort-based targeting where marketers create cohorts or segments of users who share common traits, interests or behaviors. These cohorts can be based on demographic information, browsing patterns, purchase history or engagement with specific content.

    Instead of targeting individual users with personalized ads or content, marketers target entire cohorts with relevant messaging. For example, a cohort of users who frequently visit a sports website might be targeted with ads for sporting goods or event tickets.
  4. Collaborate with trusted partners: Partner with reputable data providers and ad platforms that prioritize privacy compliance and offer robust targeting options. Verify their data collection practices and ensure alignment with your brand values and customer privacy expectations.

    Data providers and ad platforms that marketers can consider partnering with include Google Ads, Facebook Business, Amazon Advertising and LinkedIn Marketing Solutions.

    By proactively adapting to the evolving digital landscape and embracing privacy-conscious practices, small business marketers in Whatcom County can continue to reach their target audience in a cookie-less environment. If you need help adjusting to new marketing strategies, contact Bellingham PR & Communications. We’re here to help.

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