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How to prepare for the loss of the third-party cookie

Pay per click is an ever-changing and developing channel, with one key upcoming change being the loss of the third-party cookie. Third-party cookies will soon be retiring across online marketing channels, so it’s important that advertisers are ready for the change.

For a number of years, brands of all sizes have been using third-party cookies to track website visitors, improve user experience, and collect important data that helps to target ads to the most relevant audiences.

Without a long-term goal to adapt to the upcoming changes, digital marketers could find their campaign performance being negatively impacted. 

The deadline has been extended to 2024, according to a recent announcement from Chrome:

“By Q3 2023, we expect the Privacy Sandbox APIs to be launched and generally available in Chrome. As developers adopt these APIs, we now intend to begin phasing out third-party cookies in Chrome in the second half of 2024.”

This means brands have more time to build frameworks for the future.

What is a third-party cookie?

To summarise, a third-party cookie is a code that gets generated and stored on your site visitor’s phone, laptop or device by default when they visit your site. The cookie is often utilised for user experience as well as for brand development, as it is responsible for things like remembering passwords, basic data about the visitor, and user preferences.

With a third-party cookie, you can essentially find out what someone did when visiting your site, see how often they visit it, and gain other analytics that can help you develop an effective and reliable marketing strategy as a result.

It is worth noting that you can’t use these cookies to access data related to your visitor’s actions/behavior on other sites that aren’t affiliated with your domain.

What is the impact on marketing capabilities?

The loss of the third-party cookie and the move to a privacy-first world will no doubt have significant implications for the entire digital ecosystem. However, a cookieless world will have an impact on the following paid channels in particular:

There are also some specific PPC advertising capabilities that will be directly impacted by the changes, including:

  • ID Resolution
  • Audience targeting
  • Fraud detection
  • Reach and frequency tracking
  • Measurement and Attribution capabilities 

So, what can paid search marketers do?

Paid search is an increasingly competitive channel. With this in mind, what could marketers start doing from as early as now, to ensure they aren’t left behind?

In short, here are 7 things you could do from today:

  1. Focus on driving campaign efficiencies with keyword expansion and ad copy 
  2. Maximise the existing potential of your first-party data
  3. Leverage paid search for mid-funnel marketing
  4. Create a long-term strategy with a stronger focus on return on ad spend (ROAS)
  5. Focus on solving for measurement and attribution to increase efficiencies of media budgets
  6. Work together with brand, acquisition and analytics teams within your company to develop solutions
  7. Be sure to optimise cross-channel tactics to minimise impact changes as much as possible

Whilst there is still a lot of uncertainty about upcoming privacy changes and the future, these are a few things you can do to ensure you do come out on top when the changes roll out.

How else can digital marketers prepare for privacy changes?

As a pay per click marketing agency, our top tips would be:

  • Keeping a very close eye on the latest industry developments, including browser and device changes.
  • Start to test out the tactics that work to address improved targeting, better measurement, and data usage as early as possible. Doing this ahead of time can help you to discover the best channels for your business specifically. That way, you are more likely to build a future-proof strategy.
  • Focus on aiming to build a robust infrastructure that really maximises the potential of first-party data (read more on this here) whilst also guaranteeing compliance with any new and potential privacy regulations.
  • Brainstorm basic strategies that you can still use to reach your audiences even without cookies.

Businesses do still have time to plan new measurement frameworks, and whilst the prospect of rebuilding your measurement framework may feel daunting, there are many long-term benefits of determining which strategies and solutions work for you.

The key takeaway here is that now (if you aren’t already!) is the time to start evaluating any existing process, reviewing measurement tactics and beginning to build a long-term plan. Adapting to these privacy changes should essentially be a strategic priority for any PPC marketer and online-based business.

Get in touch with our PPC team

If you want someone to step in and ensure your campaigns are optimised and prepared for the upcoming changes, please get in touch with our experienced PPC team.

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