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  • Gail Malcolm

What you need to know about Google’s cookie phase out





It's been a long time coming… At the beginning of this year Google began to decrease the use of third-party cookies in Chrome, with the aim of phasing them out by the end of Q3 this year. 

 

What does this mean though? For advertisers it means there are going to be significant changes in how we can use trackable data for audience targeting. Up until now, we have been able to use third party cookies and tracking pixels to track and store user behaviour while they browse the web, allowing advertisers to launch more personalised, retargeted campaigns across Google and social media.

 

Advertisers will need to adapt to this update and be prepared to see some big changes in their reporting data - like the iOS14 update in 2021, advertisers saw a huge loss of trackable data, decreases in results and increases in costs. Google’s cookie phase out is another step towards data privacy for users, meaning that we are likely to see another shift in how we can use user data and how we report on it. 

 

Fear not though! Just because third party cookies are on their way out, doesn’t mean that we can’t find ways to create effective paid media campaigns. The best thing we can do is get ourselves prepared now, while the phase out is still young:


Use first party cookies and first party data

 

First party cookies allow websites to recognise user devices, saved items in shopping baskets or knowing when a user is logged in. First party data is information that you gather directly from your audience like email addresses, phone numbers or purchase history. 


Make sure you have the CAPI set-up on Meta

The Conversions API is a server-side tracking solution that allows advertisers to send data about user activity to Meta, removing the need for third-party cookies. The CAPI still requires consent from users for the data to be used however, so if there’s no consent, user data won’t be sent to Meta. 


Embrace contextual targeting

 

Contextual targeting used to be the go-to tactic for advertisers and the phase out will likely see a shift back to this way of targeting. This is a targeting tactic that relies on being able to understand the content your audience is consuming and the context they are consuming it in. If you can get this right, you should be able to serve ads that match the users mindset at the right moment.


Measure the data


If you can’t measure it you can’t manage it. When the phase out begins to ramp up the percentage of users that are no longer tracked, keep a close eye on your data. Check-in on your KPIs and other campaign results and understand what the data is telling you in order to pivot your strategy.


Test and learn


While it’ll be frustrating not being able to use the same level of data for retargeting, the phase out is giving advertisers an opportunity to come up with new strategies, finding new ways to target the right audiences, striving for the best possible results.

 

Google’s cookie phase out may seem daunting but it's not the end of the world. Yes, there are some challenges ahead but it's also an exciting time to really get to know your audiences and shake up your strategy. 


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