Google Set to Remove 3rd Party Cookies in 2024.
Data and Attribution, Industry News
The complete removal of 3rd party cookies has been approaching us for some time. We've seen the fallout and consequences of the new age of privacy since the IOS14.5 updates which allowed Safari users to opt out of 3rd party tracking and any app tracking. For marketers this meant that up to 55% of their website traffic was now potentially untraceable. We have been somewhat lucky that we have still been able to see Chrome activity but those days may be numbered.
As of the 4th January 2024, Google have begun testing the removal 3rd party cookies for 1% of Chrome users with plans to ramp this up across the year when 100% of users will be exposed to this restriction by the end of Q3 2024.
What does this mean for marketers?
It means a few things. But the main challenge will be continuing to make informed data-driven decisions when the data is far less easy to come by. It's not impossible to get though and we'll discuss this later.
Marketers should also be far more aware as to their audiences opinions on privacy. The value exchange for a user's details will probably need to be far stronger and more enticing.
How can marketers continue to collect data?
Marketers can't collect 3rd party data, but they can collect 1st party data. What's the difference? 1st party data is data that hasn't had to pass through a 3rd party in order to reach you.
There are 2 main way to collect 1st party data that will enable you to gather almost all of your website activity.
Email sign ups.
The most obvious strategy which most ecommerce brands will already be facilitating will be asking users to log in to your site in order to browse or purchase. At the point of initial sign up, brands will be collecting important demographic data about their customers and then can continually monitor their activity across the site as they browse.
The trick here is to encourage users to sign up. A few years ago a 10% offer or a newsletter was enough to attract new sign ups. Now, users are very cautious about handing over their details and the terror of an email inbox filled with promotions. Think about what you can offer your audience which is unique to you or could eliminate the fricton to purchase.
Server Side Tracking.
In order to get a complete picture of all activity, server side tracking is a great and fairly simple solution to put in place.
Server Side Tracking or 1st Party tracking collects anonymous data at the point at which the users lands on your site. Instead of this data being processed by the traffic source like Google or Facebook (a 3rd party), it is process through a subdomain owned by your own brand.
In order to implement this solution you'll need either a Shopify website or Google Tag Manager, a web-based server service like Stape.io and basic development support.
We have a full guide on server side tracking and how to implement it on your site here.
Cookie Preparation Checklist.
If you're worried about cookies, take a look through this checklist to see how prepared you and your brand are for the change and what you should be considering putting in place so you can continue to making the best campaigns for your audience.
Ensure your site is able to run without 3rd party cookies.
Google has some great resources to help you understand, from a technical perspective, how your site should be prepared and performed without 3rd party cookies.
Asses your 3rd party cookie usage
Test for site breakage
Audit your CRM
You'll be encouraging more and more of your users to log in rather than "checkout as guest" so make that data as easy to find and organised as possible.
Clean your data and remove any cold data that is not going to be useful ie. customers who have not purchased for over 24months
Review your segments
This should be done on a regular basis to not only ensure all the data is useful, but also to comply with GDPR regulations.
Check your Google Tag Manager and GA4
When implementing Server Side Tracking, the set up of your Google Tag Manager will be really important.
Check all tags and triggers
Test all events that you want to track and ensure they are being accurately recorded in GA4
Review the set up of your data layers within GA4; especially if you are integrating app data through Firebase
There are solutions for marketers. This is no doubt that this will not be end of the privacy changes as users become more cautious and precious over their data.
We have implemented 1st party data solutions for all our clients and have seen fantastic results because of it. We are able to continue to make real data driven decisions when it comes to channel distribution and budget management.