Google Third Party Cookies Phase Out Announcement
Are Google cookies going away? Well, yes: Google Chrome is depreciating third-party cookies in 2024.
This phase out is part of Google’s broader effort to enhance user privacy while still allowing advertisers to deliver effective, targeted campaigns. As we approach the second half of 2024, the timeline for this transition is becoming clearer, providing advertisers with an opportunity to adapt their strategies.
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The Depreciation Timeline
According to the latest update from Google, the company is on track to remove third-party cookies in the second half of 2024. The timeline has been carefully planned, incorporating feedback from origin trial testers and stakeholders. The ongoing collaboration with the UK Competition and Markets Authority ensures a smooth transition, aligning with the commitments that inform the timeline. Additionally, Chrome-facilitated testing starting in Q4 2023 will allow websites to preview and adjust to the new reality of operating without third-party cookies.
What this Means for Google Ads
Advertisers heavily relying on Google Ads, Display & Video 360, and Campaign Manager 360 need to take proactive steps to ensure their advertising infrastructure remains robust.
Additionally, if you are a niche website or brand that relies on ad networks for ad-display revenue, you might want to reach out to your ads vendor to see how they are handling the changes.
Google’s suggestion to sustain ad performance as third party cookies go away is to leverage first-party cookies and AI capabilities to build a durable ad performance. Let’s look at both of those next.
First-Party vs. Third-Party Cookies
Only third-party cookies are being phased out. This is a great time to understand what first-party cookies are, how they work, and how they can be leveraged in the absence of third-party tracking.
Definition: First-party cookies are small pieces of data that websites place on a user’s device directly. These cookies are set by the website the user is currently visiting.
Purpose: First-party cookies serve various purposes, such as remembering user preferences, maintaining login sessions, and improving overall user experience.
Example: When you log in to a website, the site may use first-party cookies to remember your username and preferences, making your next visit smoother.
Definition: Third-party cookies are created by domains other than the one the user is currently visiting. These cookies are often used by advertisers and third-party services for tracking and collecting data across different websites.
Purpose: Third-party cookies are primarily employed for ad targeting, retargeting, and gathering user behavior data across multiple sites.
Example: If you visit an online store, and later see ads for products from that store on a different website, it’s likely due to third-party cookies tracking your browsing history.
The Future Outlook:
First-Party Cookies: The phase-out of third-party cookies does not impact first-party cookies. Websites will continue to use first-party cookies for their internal functions and improving user experience.
Third-Party Cookies: Google’s decision to phase out third-party cookies is a response to growing privacy concerns. It aims to give users more control over their data while still allowing advertisers to reach their target audience through privacy-preserving methods.
First-party cookies will remain an essential and enduring tool for websites to personalize and streamline user interactions.
Tips for Adapting to Google’s Third-Party Cookie Phase-Out
As Google’s third-party cookies phase out approaches, they are offering a foundation of pillars to help you adopt your advertising strategies.
I’ve summarized these tips below, and Google also provided a short, top-level summary video:
`Build a Durable Ads Infrastructure
- Establish Robust Sitewide Tagging: Utilize the Google tag or Google Tag Manager to capture crucial data. Advertisers in the European Economic Area and the UK should prioritize creating a strong framework for user consent using Consent Mode.
- Enable Cross-Domain Linking: Measure the customer journey across multiple domains confidently.
- Set Up Enhanced Conversions: Improve the accuracy of conversion measurement by implementing enhanced conversions.
- Use Google Analytics 4: Gain deeper insights across websites and apps.
Measure and Attribute Your Conversions Accurately
- Convert to Secure HTTPS Pages: Identify and convert HTTP pages to secure HTTPS pages to meet website security standards.
- Turn on YouTube Auto-Tagging: Improve click-through conversion attribution with enhanced attribution in Campaign Manager 360.
- Confirm Conversion Domains: Ensure proper setup for each placement in Campaign Manager 360.
- Set Up New Tracking Ads: Enhance conversion attribution in Campaign Manager 360 with new tracking ads.
Reach and Engage with Relevant Customers
- Adopt Customer Match: Reach and re-engage customers on Google’s surfaces.
- Optimized Targeting: Reach more customers likely to convert through optimized targeting.
- Test Publisher Advertiser Identity Reconciliation (PAIR): Explore PAIR to re-engage with high-intent audiences across premium publisher content.
- Enhanced Automation: Opt into enhanced automation to preserve audience re-engagement capabilities.
Contact your Google account representative for more details on upcoming solutions like Publisher Advertiser Identity Reconciliation (PAIR).
Google Chrome probably won’t be the only platform phasing out third party cookies, so it’s a better time than ever to prepare for widespread changes to advertising and consumer data. Though the front-facing side of Google Ads isn’t supposed to change much, it’s important to know that audience targeting will work a little bit different on the backend now, with an increased reliance on AI technology. As no system is perfect, it might be a good idea to pay closer attention than normal to performance metrics and insights.
For those working with third-party ad-tech providers, you’ll want to keep an eye on how these changes will impact ad display opportunities, bidding, and overall revenue.
Google will continue to refine and update its recommendations, so we won’t be left in the dark 2024 and beyond.
See More: Data shows Google Analytics misses social media referrals. 6 quick tips to fix direct traffic attribution issues