Preparing for Cookieless Marketing – So Long to Third-Party Data

08.23.22 // Mike Nierengarten

What is “Cookieless”?

When folks talk about a “cookieless” world, they are really referring to the loss of third-party cookies.

First-party cookies are not going away. First-party cookies store information to make the website more user friendly as well as to better understand your behavior to sell products/solutions.

Third-party cookies follow you around. They allow marketers to track your activity throughout the web (i.e. cross-site tracking). Third-party cookies are for data collection. B2B advertisers buy this data to learn about users (e.g. intent, firmographics). If you are searching for new HR software, Workday is going to want to know about it. Blocking third-party cookies will make it more of a challenge for AdTech and MarTech companies to track behavior and determine intent.

However, Google does not want to kill online marketing, and so rather than blocking third-party cookies and calling it a day, Google is looking to introduce a new standard FLoC to replace third-party cookies. This allows Google to provide more privacy without harming its industry too badly.

What Obility is Doing Right Now

Frankly, Google has the world waiting (and continuing to wait longer as they push back to 2024). Technology and data companies need to better understand Google’s intentions and the FLoC standard to really start building around it. Obility is not gonna solve it. Like many, we have to wait for the giants in industry to make decisions.

We learned from GDPR and Apple’s ATT that no matter how much notice folks are given, curve balls are coming. Companies are going to need to adapt. Even tech giants like Twitter, LinkedIn, TikTok, and Facebook are still making frequent changes to catch up to ATT.

But, we aren’t doing nothing. Here is what Obility is advising clients do right now to prepare for Google:

  • Server-side tracking – Implement server-side tracking where possible/economically feasible (resource: server-side tracking with Google Tag Manager)
  • Document where reliant on third-party data – What data enrichment or other tools do our clients incorporate and are they reliant on third-party cookies.
  • Implement web analytics, marketing automation platforms (MAPs), and CRM – If clients do not have their instances of analytics, MAP, or CRM setup, they need to get up and running now.

Marketing Automation, CRM, and Analytics without 3rd Party Cookies

For the most part, MAPs, CRMs, and web analytics platforms use first party cookies. Folks visit a website, and companies collect information through page visits or form fills. Ad blockers and browser third-party blocking inevitably cause some headaches, but ultimately, B2B marketers should be able to continue to use their revenue systems and web analytics platforms. Again, Google is not looking to break the web.

Resources for setting up MAPs:

Obility Recommendations Post-“Cookieless”

So, B2B marketers, you have set up server-side tracking, documented where you use third-party data, and have a strong implementation of analytics. What should you be prepared to do when Google’s “Cookieless” World actually comes?

Send data to advertisers

Most B2B advertisers are reliant on advertising networks to report conversion data. Moving to first-party data collection (server-side tracking) and then sharing this information with ad networks will help companies avoid major pitfalls from losing third-party cookies. With server-side tracking, all of the conversion events are measured client-side and reported back to the advertisers, keeping control of the data with the company.

Actually use web analytics

Nearly every B2B marketer has Google Analytics, Adobe Analytics, Fathom, or some other web analytics solution. In our experience, very few use them with their digital marketing campaigns. Web analytics is first-party behavior data. This is a good wake up call to start using it. Run reports of your digital campaigns in your analytics platforms. Track engagement and user paths. Gain insights that are not native to ad networks.

Buy first-party data and engage in first-party data partnerships

Publishers and review sites (e.g. G2, Capterra) collect data on visitor behavior. Publishers with vast first-party data can share this information. Rather than using a third-party cookie, you are getting first-party data directly from the source. Better yet, work with companies that have first-party data. Google, Microsoft, and Meta are some of the biggies, but there are a ton of smaller publishers, newsletters, podcasts, and digital platforms that have data directly from their customer base.

Move Down to One Domain

Cross-tracking occurs when visitors leave one domain for another. If you are using multiple domains, consider the pros and cons of moving everything to one domain so that you can better track between your properties.

About Mike Nierengarten

Mike has been in online marketing since 2004 and started Obility in February of 2011. Mike is a numbers geek who feels more comfortable staring at Excel spreadsheets & Google Ads Editor than sitting in lengthy meetings. Mike saw Obility as an opportunity to rethink SEM management and focus solely on the unique needs of B2B clients. Mike enjoys board sports, exploring restaurants, and lively discussions about the economy. He is also a passionate traveler. His long-term goals focus on spurring economic growth and addressing inequality in the Portland community. View all Mike Nierengarten’s posts >