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‘And That’s The Way The Cookie Crumbles’

Update from the future: Google extends the use of third-party cookies once again. Read more about it here.

The wish for having it both ways has always been out there, and when it comes to digital marketing, it’s getting even harder to achieve. With more and more concerns about privacy and data collection, it has become challenging to track your potential prospects. As we all know, tracking is crucial for a successful digital marketing strategy. So, what’s this with Google’s plan of stopping the support of third-party cookies in its Chrome browser? Well, it’s privacy.

General data protection and privacy is becoming more important by the day – it is a big thing in Europe and it has made it far harder to collect and use customer data. This part of the globe has its own versions of it and advertising companies are starting to think about alternatives.

The death of third-party data collection will make us try harder to accurately show just how well a marketing investment will result in, well, results (leads, sales, revenue – important stuff).

Third-Party Cookies

Third-party cookies have been a go-to solution for years when it comes to measuring digital ad performance – and once Google stops supporting them, it will be way harder to see view-through conversions (if someone saw your ad and converted on your website later).

The problem with them, as noted in this article, is fake results. Hold up, don’t come at me that easily, keep reading.

If you use multiple channels for your latest campaign, you will, of course, get multiple reports. Every report will have the same number of conversions, and by that logic – if you used two channels and got 100 new leads, according to the reports you will have 200 new leads because both channels showed the ads to a prospect. Ain’t that false? But, the channels will likely try to take credit for it – and that costs money, and reputation in a way.

How To Handle the removal of third party cookies

There are some options – one of them being using first-party cookies.

Having them on your website will help you see which marketing channels and campaigns are resulting in conversions. You can see the number of times people visited your website before they converted, you can give credit to your organic search and email, and you will avoid the double-tracking mentioned above. This way, you will have one true source of tracking information and will show you the exact results and true value of what you have going on.

Other options include:

  1. Identity Solutions – email address, phone number, login ID. This uses 1st-party cookies on your website

  2. Google’s Privacy Sandbox – still developing

  3. Publisher Provided Identifiers (PPIDs) – a PPID is an identifier assigned to a user by a publisher, the user logs in and it enables to deliver of personalized ad campaigns

  4. Contextual Targeting – doesn’t rely on personal data, but on the web page’s contents for keywords and phrases (time spent browsing)

  5. Data Pools or Data Clean Rooms – storing a large amount of data

  6. User Identity Graphs – combines personal identity information (email address) with 1st-party cookies and publisher IDs.

  7. Digital Fingerprinting – identifying users by recording their IP, plugins, screen size, browser, time zone and OS.

Having a diverse approach might be a good strategy – combining multiple ways and gathering first-party data could give you a detailed understanding of what’s going on with your campaign while respecting your prospects’ privacy.

Measuring return on investment from media platforms is about to get harder, less accurate and, in the end, not even possible when we say goodbye to these cookies. That won’t happen until next year, but you need to start practising and adjusting now.