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Third Party Cookies explained without the IT Jargon and how it’s going to affect your business in 2024

I've been on about this a lot this year, and how little people know about it blows me away. When the cookies are blocked, you will be struck BIG TIME if you rely on conversions tracking data and CPL or CPS.

In the online business world, where every click counts, the recent announcement by Google Chrome to phase out third-party cookies has sent ripples of concern through the digital marketing landscape. For many businesses, these tiny bits of data have been the backbone of tracking user behaviour, understanding customer journeys, and optimizing marketing campaigns. But as the era of third-party cookies ends, what does this mean for your business?

NB: If you want to read from Chrome itself, take a look here

First things first, let's break down what third-party cookies do. These cookies are snippets of code placed on a user's browser by websites other than the one they visit. They track user behaviour across multiple sites, providing valuable insights into browsing habits, preferences, and interactions. This information is gold for businesses, enabling targeted advertising, personalised content, and accurate campaign performance measurement.


One of the primary concerns for businesses is how the demise of third-party cookies will affect conversions. Without these cookies, tracking user interactions across different websites becomes a challenge.

This means companies may struggle to attribute conversions accurately. Imagine you run an e-commerce store selling fitness equipment. Previously, you could track a user from the moment they clicked on an ad to the point of purchase, attributing the conversion to the specific ad campaign that led them there. But without third-party cookies, this tracking becomes less precise.

Beyond conversions, the ability to track the cost of acquiring those conversions is also at risk. Many businesses rely on sophisticated tracking systems to monitor their advertising spend and calculate the cost per conversion. Without third-party cookies, this becomes a murky territory. Understanding which marketing channels drive the most cost-effective conversions becomes more problematic when you can't accurately trace a user's journey from ad click to purchase.

So, what can businesses do to adapt to this cookie-less future? The key lies in embracing alternative tracking methods and focusing on first-party data. First-party data, collected directly from your website visitors, remains unaffected by the demise of third-party cookies. This means building robust first-party data strategies, such as encouraging users to create accounts, implementing consent-based data collection methods, and leveraging customer relationship management (CRM) systems.


Another strategy to mitigate the impact of third-party cookie restrictions is to shift towards contextual targeting. Instead of relying on user data collected across the web, contextual targeting focuses on the content of the visited webpage. For example, if a user is reading an article about healthy eating, serving them an ad for your fitness equipment would be contextually relevant, even without tracking their individual browsing history.


As consumer privacy concerns continue to grow, businesses must prioritize privacy-compliant solutions. This means being transparent about data collection practices, obtaining explicit user consent, and adhering to regulations such as the General Data Protection Regulation (GDPR) and the California Consumer Privacy Act (CCPA). By demonstrating a commitment to user privacy, businesses can build trust with their audience and mitigate the impact of cookie restrictions.


One effective strategy is to explore server-side tagging as an alternative tracking method. Server-side tagging involves sending data directly from the server to analytics platforms, bypassing the need for third-party cookies altogether. By adopting server-side tagging, businesses can maintain data accuracy and tracking capabilities while respecting user privacy, thus ensuring a seamless transition into the post-cookie era.

In summary, while the end of third-party cookies may seem daunting, it also presents an opportunity for businesses to rethink their approach to digital marketing and embrace more privacy-conscious practices. Companies can survive and thrive in a cookie-less world by staying agile and proactive.

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