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Getting To Know You…What To Do With The Demise of Third Party Cookies

Natalie Welch
Natalie Welch

Before we launch into this article, this has been written presuming a couple of things.

  1. You have a website,
  2. And, you are tracking data,

That said, if you don’t have either of things, don’t feel you have to bounce away, but some of the contexts may not make as much sense.

There is A LOT about the new cookie-less world on the WWW – so much that it can cause overwhelm and inaction. 

So we aim to sweep up all the essential elements and keep this article as layman as possible with links to more details if you feel the need.

Let's begin.

For example, I (Nat) am a HUGE fan of TopCashback. A site that tracks your clicks to other sites and gives you cashback for purchases. Sounds great, right?

Well, since 2020, specific browsers such as Safari have no longer allowed “third-party cookies” and therefore no longer will track my leap from one site to another.

Firefox withdrew its support for third-party cookies back in 2019. Whilst it seems Google is dragging its heels.

In 2020, Google promised this action by 2022, but this has now been extended to the end of 2023. So what does that mean for businesses?

What are "cookies"?

Before we go into what this change means, some may not be 100% sure what cookies are, although you have a policy for it on your site. 

In short, cookies collate data on individuals. 

There are two main types of cookies.

  1. Onsite cookies. These help a website keep track of website visitors. Where they have come from (acquisition wise), and what they do when visiting.
  2. Third-party cookies. These third-party or cross-site cookies go as far as tracking where your visitor goes next and their activities there and beyond if they continue to “accept all cookies”. 

To read more about cookies and the various types, please visit Norton.co.uk.

The demise of third-party tracking.

As explained, third-party cookies are where one site is linked to another by a piece of tracking code to harvest data of your website users. The main reason is to support those ads that follow you around the internet after clicking on:

  • An advert
  • Visiting a site that sells something (clothes, holidays, software etc.)
  • Liking a page on Facebook/Instagram
  • Searching for mortgage advisors and more

 

As the third-party cookie learns more about you, the more targetted the ads are that are served to you and the more valuable you become to certain companies.

What does this mean?

As a consumer, you may not be too bothered by that change. But as someone who runs a business – especially if you heavily rely on digital advertising – this will have a significant impact.

In an article from HubSpot, they state: 

  • 41% of marketers believe their biggest challenge will be their inability to track the right data.
  • 44% of marketers predict a need to increase their spending by 5% to 25% in order to reach the same goals as 2021.
  • 23% of marketing experts plan on investing in email marketing software due to Google’s new policy.

 

Think about that Meta Pixel on your site – that is a third-party cookie. Likewise, at the moment, Google Analytics is seen as a third-party cookie.

This is why we believe Google, have announced its solution as GA4. GA4 is replacing Universal GA in July 2023, in line with their ban on third party cookies. I am sure Meta will think of a solution, or perhaps not? Who knows. What we do know is that the real impact of this ban won’t filter through until the end of next year. 

What do you need to do? (& our predictions)

Just a reminder that the phase-out of third-party cookies is not new. iOs technology banned them last year – so there is some data marketers are not getting already. Yep really. Don’t forget those who are getting savvy with keeping their data to themselves opt-out of third-party cookies (reminder: Google Analytics is currently a third-party cookie). 

And rather than waiting to see what is going to happen, there are proactive things you can do now to ensure you start collecting what is essential before it is too late, expensive and complicated. 

Here are some ideas:

  1. Build your organic profile. Stop relying so heavily on digital advertisers to send a copy of your audience to your site. Please get to know who your consumers are and work on organically bringing them in through content creation and growing your database.
  2. Track your competitors where (and while) you can. You can still do things to see where you are in the pack to ensure you stay competitive and front of mind.
  3. Grow your database. We can not stress this enough. Your contacts will become the gold. Lead generation through your site will only become more critical and advanced in terms of segmentation.
  4. Increase your digital PR and niche ad spend. Start to seek out niche publications for possible future ad spend. Utilise advertorials and PR to get your business into publications more cost-effectively and authoritatively.
  5. Look at other analytics tools that are easier to use (GA4 is a law unto itself), less weighty and more ethical (we are trialling some at the moment watch this space____).

And, if you choose to continue advertising, the likes of Google, Meta and Amazon will still be the “top dogs” of data collection. So, we expect they will do well out of this move regarding their advertising revenue increasing. But, we can also imagine that the cost for that top spot will come at a premium.

But it isn't all bad.

WebKit goes into detail about why this move is positive to keep people’s data safer online. You can geek out about it here:

https://webkit.org/blog/10218/full-third-party-cookie-blocking-and-more/

Finally, if you are looking to stick with GA4, here are a few articles you may want to read to ensure that everything is considered and set up before completely switching over:

https://searchengineland.com/how-to-get-started-in-google-analytics-4-344838 

https://searchengineland.com/google-rolls-out-search-ads-360-integration-for-google-analytics-4-382576

Looking to keep up to date with what is going on in the website world? Why not sign up for our 2-min read (below) or if you want to discuss what we are trailing with the “sunsetting” on Google Analytics, simply get in touch!

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