Home » Data Privacy » Navigating a Cookie-Less Future: Securely Leveraging First-Party Data

Navigating a Cookie-Less Future: Securely Leveraging First-Party Data

Time is ticking on Google Chrome’s usage of 3rd party cookies.

For a few years, Google has planned to move on from Chrome’s usage of 3rd party cookies. And, with alternatives like FLoC developed within their Privacy Sandbox, we’ve already discussed what these changes will mean for marketers and alternatives to using them for tracking and optimizing campaigns.

With Google announcing in 2022 that they will be postponing the deprecation of cookies until 2024, Marketers were given more time to brace for this shift to Google’s Privacy Sandbox within their digital marketing efforts.

This year, we’re urging our clients to plan for this update as we look for ways to continuously evolve our agency practices to optimize campaign data inputs on their behalf.

What are 3rd party cookies?

Before describing what 3rd party cookies are, it’s important to understand first-party cookies or data captured and stored on websites you visit. This information includes your saved preferences, such as items saved to your shopping cart or location preferences, which help optimize the user experience.

3rd party cookies are placed on the site you are visiting by a 3rd party (ad networks) and are often used to track people as they navigate from site to site. 3rd party cookies give advertisers insights into your browsing interests over time, along with geo-location, among other details.

Following privacy regulation pressure from European GDPR and California’s CCPA, Google has ultimately committed to discontinuing the use of this privacy-intrusive data.

What does Google’s 2024 deprecation of 3rd party cookies mean for marketers?

Ultimately, 3rd party cookies enable Google’s advertising algorithm to target individuals based on browsing behavior. This is a crucial ingredient to Google’s targeting capabilities, which enables it to optimize ad campaign performance on behalf of the advertiser.

With ongoing concerns surrounding user privacy, Google will ultimately need to shift gears to alternative methods, such as targeting users based on their topics of interest. This contextual approach isn’t necessarily a new concept, but the dust hasn’t settled on Google’s 3rd party alternative solutions via their Privacy Sandbox.

How can marketers prepare?

This is a data issue that can be resolved with more data. Instead of relying on cookies to drive better campaign performance, we’re urging our clients to focus on harvesting their own first-party data through their website and lead capture forms.

We use first-party data on our client’s behalf to assist in suppressing or enhancing ad targeting. This is a proven effective method for optimizing campaigns and will become even more important with the sunset of Google’s usage of 3rd party cookies.

More information regarding first-party data

First-party data such as events, email subscriptions, and form submissions provided by visitors to your website enable marketers to remarket to these individuals and create look-alike audiences based upon these user lists.

Marketers can also target people who sign up to receive information on a product or service but do not convert or purchase from the site by linking their Google Ads and Analytics accounts.

For first-party list uploads, Google uses Transport Layer Security (TLS), the industry standard for securely transferring files. Investing in strategies to maximize the collection and safe usage of this data is becoming a bigger priority for digital marketers with 3rd party cookies phase-out.

Why is first-party data important?

As stated by Google in their January 2023 Privacy Measurement Summit, digital marketers who use first-party data to drive their advertising efforts can average generate twice the amount of revenue or one and a half times the cost efficiency over advertisers leveraging limited data integration. In other words, collecting and using first-party data is a proven tactic for improving campaign performance and a key ingredient to outperforming your competition.

How can marketers optimize the collection of first-party data?

A comprehensive digital marketing presence should equally factor in paid efforts, content, and user experience to maximize the acquisition of first-party data, enhancing your marketing efforts. This is where SEO comes into play, ensuring your content resonates with your target audience and that your website experience is optimized and accessible.

Providing engaging and authoritative content establishes trust with users and raises the probability that they will be willing to share PII data with you to support your digital marketing efforts.

How do advertisers leverage first-party data?

Digital marketing professionals can seamlessly integrate first-party data from your CRM, such as Salesforce, HubSpot, and Shopify, into your digital campaigns with connectors from various platforms, including Google Ads and Meta Ads Manager.

By sharing data, you can optimize campaigns to target repeat or high-value buyers who have already expressed interest in your offering. Real-time data transfers also offer superior performance to manually uploaded data, but at minimum, data should be updated at least every 90 days.

4 Ways to Securely Collect and Leverage First-Party Data

Lever is HITRUST certified to handle PII data via transfer of files securely. However, there are preferred direct data transfer methods that avoid using sensitive PII data altogether.

1. Site-Wide Tagging

With more privacy-centric technologies being introduced, such as ITP, ETP, and the discontinuation of Google Chrome’s use of 3rd-party cookies, site-wide tagging is an excellent method to ensure you accurately track and optimize digital marketing campaigns with enhanced conversion measurement and modeling. Site-wide tagging can be implemented via Google Tag or Tag Manager.

2. Analytics

With Google’s Universal Analytics sunsetting this July, Google Analytics 4 (GA4) includes privacy-upgraded features and cookie-less measurement.

According to Google, GA4 uses a “flexible approach to measurement, and in the future, will include modeling to fill in the gaps where the data may be incomplete.

With this update, you can rely on Google Analytics to help measure your marketing results and meet customer needs now as you navigate the recovery and as you face uncertainty in the future.”

Google Analytics 4 combines measurement across websites and apps to give marketers a 360-degree view of the customer journey and cross-channel attribution while providing richer data for machine-learning models.

You can find more predictive metrics available within Google Analytics 4 here.

3. Advanced: Server-Side Tagging

Most digital marketing professionals today use client-side tracking, placing pixels on websites and apps via Google Tag Manager (GTM).

Instead of placing pixels on your website, server-side tagging tracks server to server via server-side tagging and runs Google Analytics from your web server (not the browser). This means all your tags are placed at the server level, avoiding the need to execute tracking JavaScript when loading any URL.

The advantages of server-side tracking include faster load times and more accurate data, as ad blockers or web browsers do not block tracking. Go here for more information on how to implement server-side tagging.

4. Advanced: In-UI Connectors

Integrations facilitate simpler data onboarding and management from the advertiser’s preferred CRM. In Google Ads, advertisers can connect directly to third-party platforms such as Zapier, HubSpot, and Salesforce and start onboarding audience or conversion data.

Conclusion

Digital marketers now have more time to prepare for the changes thanks to Google’s declaration that it will delay the deprecation of third-party cookies in Chrome until 2024. Google’s capacity to target people based on their browsing behavior will be impacted by the removal of cookies, necessitating alternative strategies. Digital marketers are encouraged to intensify alternative targeting strategies in front of this transformation, including making the most of their own first-party data and installing new tracking technologies.

If your team is interested in getting assistance with your digital marketing initiatives, you can reach us at sales@leverinteractive.com; we’re more than happy to help you with your SEO and digital marketing needs.

Did you like the post? Share it on social media!