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Third Party Cookie Removal & The Consequences - Consent mode, Enhanced conversions, & More




Why Proactive Planning Matters for Your Google Ads


Remember the days of dial-up internet and bulky brick phones? As technology evolves, so do our strategies to reach our audiences. Just as the transition from analogue to digital demanded adaptation, removing third-party cookies from Google Chrome by the end of 2024 signals another significant shift in the digital marketing landscape.


For businesses relying on Google Ads, this change isn't just a trend to watch – it's a game-changer.


Third-party cookies have long been the workhorses of online advertising, enabling laser-focused targeting and detailed campaign measurement. But these cookies are being retired, with user privacy concerns at an all-time high. A KPMG study found that 86% of users were actively concerned about their data privacy.


Without them, tracking user behaviour and measuring campaign success will become more challenging. My personal & professional mantra is to be proactive, not reactive. Proactive planning here can make all the difference. By taking action now and adapting your strategies, you can ensure your Google Ads campaigns remain effective and engaging even in a cookieless future. Proactive planning isn't just about avoiding disruption; it's about seizing the opportunity to build stronger customer relationships and future-proof marketing efforts.


Third-Party Cookies: The End of an Era (A refresher)


Think of third-party cookies as digital breadcrumbs you leave behind as you browse the web. These tiny files, placed on your browser by websites you visit, track your activity across different domains. Advertisers leverage this information to build detailed profiles of your interests and serve you highly targeted ads, sometimes eerily relevant.


However, this level of tracking raises significant privacy concerns. Imagine someone following you around every physical store you visit, taking notes on your purchases and preferences. That's what third-party cookies do online. In response, browsers like Chrome are phasing them out, prioritizing user privacy over personalized ad tracking.


The Impact of Third-Party Cookie Deprecation on Google Ads


Tracking Challenges: Loss of Accuracy and Attribution


Now, please take a second and picture this: you run a successful Google Ads campaign for your baking supplies store. With third-party cookies, you could know which website a customer visited before clicking your ad, allowing you to tailor your targeting and measure the impact of specific ad placements. But without them, that detailed picture becomes blurry.


The loss of third-party cookies means


  • Limited visibility into user journeys: Understanding where users come from before converting will be more challenging, making optimizing campaigns for specific channels or ad placements harder.

  • Attribution struggles: Accurately attributing conversions to specific touchpoints (e.g., social media ad vs. display ad) becomes trickier, making it harder to measure the effectiveness of different campaign elements.

  • Reduced data for campaign optimization: With less granular data, optimizing campaigns based on user behaviour and interests becomes more challenging, potentially leading to suboptimal performance.


Targeting and Retargeting: Increased Difficulty


Retargeting based on third-party cookie data allows for more specific advertising, such as showing baking recipe ads only to users who recently searched for baking ingredients. Without them, that level of specificity takes a hit:


  • Broader targeting: Reaching particular audiences based on individual browsing behaviour becomes more complex, potentially leading to wasted ad spend on irrelevant users.

  • Limited retargeting options: Retargeting campaigns based on website visits or specific product interactions will become less effective, making it harder to stay top-of-mind with potential customers.

  • Increased reliance on contextual targeting: Contextual targeting based on the content users view becomes more critical, requiring adjustments to your campaign strategies.



Preparing for the Future: Key Actionable Steps


The cookieless future may seem daunting, but fret not! Here are some crucial steps you can take to ensure your Google Ads campaigns thrive in this new landscape:





1. Consent Mode: Unlocking Data Collection


What is Consent Mode?


Consent Mode is a bridge between respecting user privacy and collecting valuable data. It allows you to inform users about data collection and obtain their consent to use cookies and personalized ads. By respecting user choices, you build trust and capture data.


Benefits of Using Consent Mode:


  • Compliance with privacy regulations: Ensure your campaigns adhere to evolving data privacy regulations.


  • Maintain data collection: Gather valuable insights about user behaviour, even with limited cookies.


  • Respect user privacy: Demonstrate transparency and empower users to choose their data-sharing preferences.


How to Implement Consent Mode:


Consent Manager details beginner and advanced instructions on setting up Consent Mode V2 with Google Tag Manager (GTM):



2. Customer Lists: Powering Audience Targeting and Remarketing


Customer lists are indispensable tools for marketers aiming to display their ads exclusively to individuals who have previously engaged with their brand, such as those who have visited their website or subscribed to their emails. This targeted approach is especially beneficial in the era of restricted cookie data, allowing for precise audience reach.


To build and effectively utilize these lists, brands should harness data from various sources, including website interactions, email marketing efforts, CRM systems, and loyalty programs. Encouraging website visitors to subscribe to email lists or create accounts is a crucial step, as is the segmentation of these lists to enable targeted campaigns that cater to different demographics, interests or purchasing behaviours.


For those looking to create efficient customer lists, the Google Ads Help Center offers comprehensive guidance on uploading 1P Customer Lists, providing a valuable resource for marketers seeking to enhance their advertising strategies.



3. Server-side GTM: Taking Control of Your Data


What is Server-side GTM?


Think of traditional Google Tag Manager (GTM) as placing tags directly on your website. Server-side GTM executes these tags on your web server before sending data to your website visitors. This offers greater control over data collection and processing, shielding sensitive information from users' browsers.


Advantages of Server-side GTM:


Enhanced privacy: Protects sensitive user data like email addresses from appearing in browser cookies.


Improved measurement: Tracks conversions even when cookies are blocked or unavailable.


Greater flexibility: Enables complex tracking scenarios and integrations not possible with client-side GTM.


Disadvantages of Server-side GTM:


Latency and Performance Concerns: Server-side GTM can improve website speed by reducing client-side load, but it introduces a server that can cause latency. The speed and reliability of your implementation depend on server performance and how you manage network latency.


Complex Setup and Maintenance: Server-side GTM is more technically tricky than client-side implementations. It requires configuring a server container, managing a server, and ensuring its security and uptime. This can be a significant hurdle for teams without dedicated technical resources.


Debugging and Troubleshooting: Troubleshooting issues with server-side tagging can be more challenging than with client-side implementations. Debugging requires a good understanding of server operations and network requests, which might not be within the skill set of all marketers.


Getting Started with Server-side GTM (with resources):




4. Enhanced Conversions: Capturing More Than Just Conversions


What are Enhanced Conversions?


Enhanced Conversions is a feature that utilizes hashed customer data (like email addresses) to connect the online activity with actual conversions, even when cookies are limited. This provides a more complete picture of your campaign performance.


Benefits of Using Enhanced Conversions:


  • Recover missing conversions: Capture conversions that wouldn't be tracked with traditional methods.

  • Improve campaign bidding: Optimize campaigns based on more accurate conversion data.

  • Privacy-safe approach: Hashes user data to ensure privacy compliance.


Implementing Enhanced Conversions in Google Ads:


Google's support page details how to set up Enhanced Conversions: https://support.google.com/google-ads/answer/9888656?hl=en 




5. Offline Conversion Tracking: Connecting Online and Offline Efforts


Why Offline Conversion Tracking Matters:


Not all conversions happen online! Whether it's phone calls, store visits, or form submissions, tracking offline conversions ensures a holistic view of your marketing efforts.


Methods for Offline Conversion Tracking:


Import data: Upload conversion data from your CRM, point-of-sale system, or other offline sources.

Phone call extensions: Track conversions generated through calls initiated from your ads.

Store visits conversion tracking: Utilize Google's in-store visit tracking solution (if available).


Setting Up Offline Conversion Tracking in Google Ads:


WordStream's guide details how to set up offline conversion tracking for beginners: https://www.wordstream.com/blog/ws/2023/10/30/offline-conversion-tracking 


Offline conversion tracking is indispensable for marketers aiming to capture the full spectrum of customer interactions to measure the impact of customer behaviour offline. You can connect online behaviour and offline results by importing data from CRM systems, leveraging phone call extensions, and pulling in Google's in-store visit tracking. Here, you'll develop a deeper understanding of consumer behaviour, allowing for more informed decision-making and more accurate optimizations. The interplay between digital and physical spaces is tricky to map. Still, it will remain a critical skill set for advertisers that need to maximize their ROI while understanding their customer journey and conversion actions wherever they happen.


Additional Considerations and Opportunities


Embracing First-Party Data and Customer Relationships:


Focus on collecting first-party data through opt-in forms, loyalty programs, and engaging content. Use contextual targeting and alternative solutions to reach relevant audiences. Optimize and measure your campaigns using available data and invest in analytics tools for better insights.


Don't Wait: Take Action Now


The clock is ticking. The sooner you start preparing, the better-positioned you'll be to navigate the changes and keep control of your accounts. Don't wait until cookies are gone; scramble for solutions.


1 comentario


Invitado
22 feb

Great Article! Very detailed and technical!

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