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Creating Campaigns in a Cookieless World

By Eleni Sarri

2024 is bringing major changes to the internet as we know it – including the long awaited shift away from third party cookies.

Google is set to phase out third party cookies for all users this year, and started this transition a few days into 2024 – Chrome having removed third party cookies for 1% of users on the 4th of January. 


Third Party Cookies: What Are They?

There’s no doubt that everyone reading this has been targeted by third party cookies. Have you ever searched for something online before ads for similar products suddenly start following you all over the internet? That’s third party advertising at work.

As the name suggests, third party cookies are tracked by websites other than the one users are currently visiting. When we visit a website, a tracker is placed by a third party that follows your online activity and collects information about your browsing habits. This in turn allows marketers to target their ads based on perceived user interests, wants and needs garnered from online searches to maximise the chance of a conversion.

The depreciation of cookies comes as a result of increasing concerns and new regulations around user privacy. While webpages are required to get the green light from audiences to use third party cookies on Chrome, most of us allow cookies without fully understanding what this means. 

Typically, marketers have relied heavily on third party cookies to create effective campaigns with high conversion rates. As we transition away from third party cookies, we won’t be able to follow the online user journey in such a straightforward way. While this may create some barriers for marketers, the removal of cookies will benefit users. The cookieless future will enhance user privacy by giving individuals more protection over their data, and reduce intrusive advertising.


The Cookieless Future

The increased valuation of first party data will be an important way to overcome the removal of cookies – and this actually has a slew of benefits that are often overlooked in the face of third party data. 

First party data refers to information collected directly from the audience, which can come in the form of customer feedback, social media followers and engagements, and website activity, like registration forms. Since it’s made up of internal data it offers some of the most relevant information for marketers and businesses, as it’s tailored to your specific audience. For example, customers providing feedback on a product directly through a feedback form  – there’s no ‘middleman’ involved like we see with third party data.


Agencies Adapting to the Death of Cookies

Full-service agencies like Tug are well placed to continue creating effective campaigns after the death of third party data. Our roadmap for the cookieless future focuses on building solutions to support our clients based on their specific needs and targets for success.

In-house solutions provide opportunities for agencies to utilise first party data more efficiently. At Tug, we’ve developed the ‘Tug Conversion ID’ (TUGCID) tool which reduces the reliance on cookies for conversion tracking, by allowing us to link a conversion back to the marketing activity that drove it. The TUGCID does this by utilising first party data to attribute back to the channel involved in the original lead. 

There are also other platform-based tools that can help to supplement the removal of third party data. For instance, setting up server-side tracking, META CAPI for Meta users, and Enhanced Conversions for Google can further enrich our cookieless strategy for platform data. 

Combining these data-driven strategies with other agency offerings can create a 360-approach to marketing. For example, Paid Media teams can supplement the use of in-house solutions with contextual advertising that focuses more on the content put out in campaigns rather than the actual audience, and using this to determine what ads will be most effective. 

Amidst the uncertainty surrounding the depreciation of cookies this year, there’s no need for agencies or clients to fear the cookieless future. Creating roadmaps that supplement the removal of third party data with effective strategies, like utilising first party data, a 360-approach to marketing, and AI-driven tools, will ensure agencies are still seeing the results they want from campaigns.