The Threadgill Agency | Adapting to Chrome's Third-Party Cookie Phase-Out
Explore 10 vital strategies to navigate Chrome's third-party cookie phase-out and future-proof your digital marketing campaigns.
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Mastering Marketing in the Cookieless Era: Chrome’s Third-Party Cookie Phase-Out

chrome third party cookies

Mastering Marketing in the Cookieless Era: Chrome’s Third-Party Cookie Phase-Out

Following in the footsteps of Safari and Firefox, earlier this year Chrome stopped storing third-party cookies for 1% of its users, with plans to do the same for all users some time in early 2025. With Chrome’s substantial 60% market share, this change carries significant implications. 

While it doesn’t mean a complete loss of targeting and tracking data, the phase out of third-party cookies will require creativity and preparation. Here are ten key points to future-proof your digital campaigns:

  1. No One-Size-Fits-All Replacement. There’s no singular replacement for third-party cookies. Depending on the complexity of your marketing strategy, you may need to combine increased modeling based on first-party data, contextual targeting, UTM tracking, pixel placement, Google’s Privacy Sandbox tools, and in some cases, more advanced tactics like offline conversion imports, server-side tracking, and unified identity solutions.
  2. First-Party Data Reigns Supreme. While the most talked-about type of first-party data is current customer data, it can also include analytics data like demographics, page views, product adds-to-cart, and geolocation. For example, it’s possible to create a GA4 audience of users who viewed a product page but didn’t check out, share that audience with Google Ads, and use it in a remarketing campaign.
  3. “Zero” Party Data Takes the Crown. Have you noticed more sites asking you to join loyalty programs and complete quizzes? This isn’t just about padding email lists – it’s a strategic play for enhanced targeting in a cookieless future. In contrast to first-party data, zero-party data is detailed information voluntarily shared by current customers and potential future customers. Gathering specific information, like phone numbers, zip codes, and product interests that help build robust customer profiles.
  4. AI to the Rescue. Imagine a jigsaw puzzle with half the pieces missing. In most cases, it’s still possible to tell what the image is supposed to be, since our brains fill in the missing pieces. That’s the task given to AI – filling in the missing pieces of a fragmented user journey. Among other things, AI can predict if a customer converted after an ad interaction, even without definitive tracking. It’s what Google’s Enhanced Conversions and Meta’s Advanced Matching have been doing for years now, and it’s something multiple platforms will increasingly rely on.
  5. Offline Conversions Take Things to Another Level.  While offline conversion tracking (OCT) is crucial for businesses without online tracking, it can also provide proof of online conversions when other sources cannot. Google’s OCT matches conversions to click IDs (gclids), while Meta’s Conversions API (CAPI) directly connects to your data for a black-and-white picture of what happened after a customer interacted with your ad.
  6. Pixels ≠ Third-Party Cookies. If you browse a product on a retail website, then you see an ad for it on Instagram, the website must have dropped a third-party cookie on your browser, right? Not necessarily. In fact, this could be first-party data at work. If you signed into the retailer’s website or signed up for their email list, giving first-party data, you gave the retailer permission to match your hashed data back to a Meta profile and serve you an ad. The best part? Since you consented, this is totally privacy-safe.
  7. Back to Basics with Contextual Targeting. Limited first and zero party data? Start collecting customer data in a privacy-safe way, but while you wait for that to build up, consider the content your customers consume – websites, videos, podcasts – and contextually target those placements through GDN, YouTube, and other channels. This may sound like an old-school approach, but contextual targeting has evolved beyond the on-page keyword targeting of years ago. Sophisticated algorithms now determine not just the content, but the intent and sentiment of the page to make sure your ad shows up on pages more likely to yield your desired results.
  8. Lift Measurement in a Data Vacuum. Privacy-centric industries like healthcare have long operated without third-party cookies, or any customer data, for that matter. They’ve gotten creative, and so can you. Try lift measurement – test a campaign in one market against a control to prove impact without tracking.
  9. Another Reprieve. Google once again delayed the date for third-party cookie deprecation in April, and they’ve yet to set a clear timeframe, saying only that they “envision proceeding […] early next year.” The U.K. government’s Competition and Markets Authority is still questioning the move, citing competition concerns. On top of that, the complexity of Google’s Privacy Sandbox ideas could hinder widespread adoption. Nonetheless, preparation remains crucial.
  10. Seek Expert Guidance. Collecting zero-party data, setting up conversion actions, placing pixels, contextual targeting, keeping up with changes, and lift experiments are complex tasks. Consulting a trusted digital marketing agency like The Threadgill Agency can future-proof your marketing efforts. Reach out to us to see how we can help!