The Cookie is Crumbling

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Who doesn’t love a cookie? Well, Google as they have started phasing out third-party cookies for 1% of Chrome users. And they plan to extend this to all Chrome users by the end of 2024.

Of course, the cookie we’re referring to here is a piece of code that tracks a user’s actions on a website. Marketers have long relied on cookies to help them create personalised ads and track their effectiveness.

As a business owner, you’ll understand the importance of tracking users if you have a website. Accurate data collected by cookies are vital for understanding the effect your investment in online advertising has on your business. 

So, with millions of businesses (and marketing agencies) worldwide relying on these sweetly-named little codes, why has Google decided to scrap them?

Protecting Your Privacy

With more and more people relying on the internet to work and play, privacy and data protection concerns have become an important issue. Google relies entirely on the internet for its ongoing success, so it is sensitive to the raised concerns. It’s in their best interests to take action to protect their users (and future customers).

Impact on Marketers and Businesses

This development presents challenges for marketers, making monitoring user activity across diverse websites increasingly difficult and obtaining essential information for targeted advertising. And the consequences extend to businesses that rely on paid advertising to promote their products and services in the digital space.

Alternatives to Third-Party Cookies

Despite the challenges, viable alternatives have emerged. A primary strategy involves the embrace of First-Party Data—information voluntarily shared by website visitors, including names and email addresses. Additionally, contextual advertising, which relies on understanding the context in which users encounter ads, becomes more important. Businesses can tailor relevant ads without relying on past online behaviour by figuring out the content a user is engaged with.

Server-Side Tracking with GA4

Businesses are also exploring server-side tracking to gather data and insights while maintaining user privacy. Google Analytics 4 (GA4) facilitates server-side tracking, allowing businesses to record and process events directly on their web servers. This approach offers an alternative to traditional client-side tracking, providing more control over data collection.

Setting up server-side tracking with GA4 involves configuring a server container, specifying endpoints, and generating a Measurement Protocol Secret for secure communication. Collaboration with web development teams is essential to implement server-side tracking on the business’s web server. The data collected through this method can seamlessly integrate into GA4 reports, offering a comprehensive view of user interactions.

While less susceptible to browser settings or ad blockers, it can be slower and unable to collect as much information as client-side tracking.

Adapting Strategies at Click Marketing

At Click Marketing, we’ll work with our clients on a case-by-case basis to overcome the challenges thrown up by the loss of third-party cookies. We will work together to find solutions that work for everyone involved and ensure we can continue to run successful, thoughtful, and relevant advertising campaigns.

Insights Over Cookies

One constant remains in the grand tapestry of marketing’s future—the paramount importance of understanding customers. Irrespective of the shifting cookie landscape, the more insights businesses can glean from their audience and share with marketing agencies, the more effective their marketing efforts will be—whether it involves cookies or not. Embracing server-side tracking with GA4 adds a layer of sophistication to this journey, allowing businesses to adapt to the evolving digital landscape while safeguarding user privacy.

One thing stays the same in the big picture of where marketing is heading—knowing your customers is key. Whether we’re talking about cookies or not, the more we understand our audience, the better our ads will be.