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Tips & Tricks

The Cookie Apocalypse is coming…

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Byron · Senior Digital Marketing Specialist / Panda
3 · November 1st, 2023
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The Cookie apocalypse is the most significant change to paid advertising since online advertising began.

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What is The Cookie Apocalypse?

Google, who owns two-thirds of the desktop browser market and one of the internet’s most powerful advertising platforms will start phasing out third-party cookies in Chrome during the second half of 2024. Sooner or later third party data will be gone, whether that matters to internet users is a matter of debate and largely comes down to personal preference and feeling on privacy.

These changes are driven for increasing demands for privacy

There are those of us who are strong privacy advocates and often this is held as the moral high ground. Privacy over the profits of big corporations, there is certainly some truth to this. As an advocate for digital advertising, I would suggest that online advertising leveled the playing field particularly with Google and META Advertising. It’s affordable for businesses and can be made hyper local. Tracking users behavior also allows for more relevant ads to be delivered, this is where things come down to personal preference. There are those of us that would prefer to see advertisements that are relevant to us, and then there are those of us who feel this is invasive.

How does this affect online marketing?

With the loss of third party data the traditional method retargeting is gone. No more Pixel on your website pairing up your web traffic with users on Facebook and Instagram. The way forward for advertisers and businesses is to improve your first party data, data you collect about your customers whether that be online, or offline. Firstly this means customer lists/databases which you should already be doing. More importantly is Pii or Personally Identifiable data, the better your data here, the better your Event Match Quality Score will be. We will explore how Pii will be used along with CAPI or GTM Server side tracking next.

Just tell me, what will this mean for my campaign if I do nothing?

If you are relying on Pixels and Cookies to collect data on your customers, for attribution, remarketing and measuring the success of your campaigns, this will no longer work. You won’t be able to continue to rely on your pixel and cookies for this purpose.

Does this mean retargeting is dead?

No, retargeting is not dead, well it’s not if your marketing team is on their game. In the face of the impending change, we need to explore technical solutions to adapt to the changing landscape. As mentioned, one such solution is Conversion API (CAPI), a technology that enables the secure transmission of customer data (Pii) from your website to advertising platforms like META. CAPI functions by hashing user data, including information like IP addresses, phone numbers, names, zip codes, and city details. This hashed data is then sent to advertising platforms through a secure connection, ensuring both data privacy and compliance with evolving privacy regulations. CAPI empowers businesses to attribute conversions to their ads more effectively and deliver targeted content to users who are likely to convert. Google Tag Manager (GTM) Server Side tracking provides a similar data-sharing mechanism. These systems enhance the quality of event matching by transferring hashed data directly to advertising platforms. Many of our clients are already embracing these solutions, with platforms like Shopify offering user-friendly integrations to facilitate CAPI adoption and the good news is we are seeing fantastic results. This new world will be difficult to predict, anyone who says they know the perfect solution is kidding themselves. At this stage, CAPI & GTM Server Side tracking is looking like the way forward but with privacy online being such an issue, these technologies also raise questions about data collection and sharing. So let’s talk about one more method the is simple, and doesn’t require the transfer of sensitive user data.

There is a new way to think about Social Media marketing

There is an often overlooked method of handling retargeting and conversion and you should be thinking about it when planning your next social media campaign. You don’t always need users to take actions on your website and even if they make a final purchase on your website the awareness and education phase of a campaign can all happen on Facebook, Instagram, Pinterest or other social platform of your choice. When someone is scrolling through Instagram, watching cat videos, finding a recipe on Pinterest or maybe just enjoying some dank memes your ad pops up and it interrupts them. Asking them to click away from what they are doing is an increasingly difficult task, and possibly unnecessary. 

Instead let’s try something less aggressive. Ask them to;

  • Watch a video or view some content educating them about your product
  • Ask them a question with engaging content, get them to comment or react on your post
  • Let them fill out a lead form on META, collect their data for an EDM, retargeting or even a follow up phone call

All of these, even just clicking a lead form and not completing it will let these users be filed into various audiences of your choosing, perfect for retargeting campaigns, these users are qualified users. There are so many great ways to engage with your customers on social media platforms. We need to forget the idea that it’s all about clicks to your website.  

Here is an example funnel where we don’t use a website at all to generate a lead, imagine we are selling a modest real estate project perfect for young families and first home buyers.

  1. An educational video for first home buyers
    2. ThruPlays from these videos are shown an ad for a Live Stream Event
    3. Attendees of the live stream event are now funneled into a highly qualified audience
  2. This highly qualified audience is presented with a lead form advert
Embracing Change

Despite the changes to online advertising, it’s going to be equal for everyone, this in itself presents an opportunity for those who adapt first to get ahead of the competition. It also won’t change the fundamentals, great ads with a clear message, great products, great offers and whether it’s a website, email marketing campaign or lead form, the user journey must make sense. Advertisers who prioritize user experience and provide valuable, relevant content will likely fare better in the post-cookie era. The key is to remain flexible, stay informed about industry developments, and be ready to adjust strategies as the advertising landscape continues to shift.

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About Byron
Senior Digital Marketing Specialist / Panda
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