Google’s Third-Party Cookie Phaseout: What Marketers Need to Know.

Feb 21 · 5 min read

In 2020, Google announced it would phase out third-party cookies from Chrome browser over two years. Marketers have since been speculating on the negative consequences this could have on targeted campaigns and reaching new customers. Google Chrome accounts for 64% of the global market share, making it the most widely used browser that allows both first-party cookies and third-party cookies.

Third-party cookies are integral for marketers to track users and deliver personalised ads to users around the web. While this will be a big change, it’s not all bad news.

The phase-out does not include first-party cookies. You will still be able to monitor how customers interact with your website and deliver personalised content and ads.

The truth is, Google Chrome’s third-party cookie phase-out could heavily impact some areas of the marketing and advertising space, while other tactics will still stay pretty much the same. If you’re an advertiser or a marketer who’s thrived on third-party data for targeted audience strategies, read on…

What are cookies?

Not all cookies are the same, and not all cookies will be phased out. Cookies are managed differently depending on the browser and have different permissions. Essentially, cookies are pieces of code that are saved by websites onto a user’s web browser. There are many uses for cookies but marketers primarily use them to track users for personalisation and session management.

Cookies are not in programs and don’t perform any specific functions. Instead, they are simple text files. In adtech, cookies track users as they visit different websites. After visiting a website, cookies on that website will be saved to the user’s browser. After a few days, if this user visits the website again, cookies allow the website to recognise that same user. Some cookies can also be used to track users across the web and across devices.

First-party cookies
First-party cookies are created and stored on a user’s web browser when they visit your website. This allows your website to deliver a more personalised and relevant experience when these users return to your website.

Third-party cookies
Third-party cookies are created by advertising and tracking providers. These cookies allow marketers to track users around the web in order to better understand their behaviours, habits, and preferences for prediction analysis. They enable marketers to find and talk to the right people, at the right place, at the right time.

Why is Google starting to phase out third-party cookies now?

How will this impact your digital marketing?

Before we jump into that, it’s important to know what areas won’t be affected by the third-party cookie phase-out.

Conversion tracking (first-party cookies)

Remarketing (first-party cookies)

The same goes for Facebook remarketing. Advertising campaigns on Facebook/Instagram based on actions that users took on our websites are tracked via a Facebook cookie, so again, there’s zero reliance on third-party interactions.

Display Remarketing (first and third-party cookies)

Tracking view-through conversions and enabling frequency capping (limiting the number of times a user sees an ad) will also likely not function in the way it does today as data from third-party websites will no longer be available.

Can targeted advertising exist without third-party cookies?

How will the marketing ecosystem as we know it adapt?

The common denominator among the industry is that programmatic media buyers will need to move away from building audiences on third-party data points.

What to do next

If your advertising strategies rely on third-party data, start considering alternatives now. As you continue to follow the news related to the phase-out, you should also check out any software or solutions that can help you better transition away from this type of cookie.

Google’s Privacy Sandbox could still serve as a valuable alternative for ad targeting. You could also consider strategies or software that can better help you leverage first-party data.

This would also be a good time to review older strategies, like contextual advertising. While third-party data allowed you to place ads directly in front of people who matched certain user profiles, contextual advertising allows you to circulate PPC ads on websites that rank for similar keywords as your ad. This way, if you’re selling sports apparel, your PPC ad could show up on sports-oriented websites.

Finally, to make your brand as safe as possible from future governance or monopoly-related policies, brainstorm even more basic strategies that you can still use to reach your audiences even without cookies, hyper-targeted ads, or mass amounts of data. This will allow you to be less vulnerable to technology, even when you can benefit from the latest tracking software.

Originally published at on February 21, 2021.

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Written by


Marketing leader in the tech startup space with a passion for building marketing systems for data-led decisions.

The Startup

Get smarter at building your thing. Follow to join The Startup’s +8 million monthly readers & +787K followers.


Written by


Marketing leader in the tech startup space with a passion for building marketing systems for data-led decisions.

The Startup

Get smarter at building your thing. Follow to join The Startup’s +8 million monthly readers & +787K followers.

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