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Updated for Accuracy: 4/25/2024

In a time when consumers are becoming increasingly mindful of online data privacy, governments globally are enacting new regulations to address data usage. Europe’s GDPR rules have set off a global trend, compelling companies to reassess their approach to user data and the widespread use of third-party cookies. Google anticipates a shift towards “privacy-preserving APIs,” indicating the impending decline of third-party cookies while ensuring continued results for advertisers and publishers.

On January 4th, 2024, Google initiated trials for Tracking Protection, an innovative feature designed to limit cross-site tracking. By default, this feature restricts website access to third-party cookies, representing a significant step in Google’s Privacy Sandbox initiative. Initially introduced to 1% of Chrome users worldwide, this marks a pivotal milestone as they work towards phasing out third-party cookies for all users starting in the first half of 2025.

See a complete, up-to-date tracking of Google’s Privacy Sandbox Timeline here.

So, what exactly are third-party cookies? 

Third-party cookies monitor website activities and enhance online experiences, such as remembering login credentials or displaying relevant ads based on browsing history.

Some third-party cookie examples include:

Retargeting Cookies – Enable advertisers to display personalized ads across multiple domains to users who have previously visited a website.

Cross-Site Tracking Cookies – Track user activity across multiple websites to create a user profile and assign user intent.

Social Media Cookies  – Track user social interactions and provide social sharing features.

Eliminating third-party cookies will pose challenges for advertisers attempting to track the web activity of potential consumers, particularly when it comes to popular retargeting and intent-based campaigns.

However, much of exactly how advertisers will be impacted is speculation. There is a lot of talk about what is happening, but people have yet to learn the actual impact. As B2B marketers, our best move is to educate ourselves on alternatives and stay aware of Google updates. Similar to the move from Google Analytics to GA4, we are hopeful that Google will offer the same support and advice through this transition.

 

Alternative Approaches to Third-Party Cookies 

First-Party Data

Google’s main recommendation for advertisers is to rely heavily on first-party data. First-party data comprises unique information about your audience obtained directly from the user. It includes demographic information, actions taken on your website or app, CRM or Marketing Automation systems data, social media conversations, customer feedback, online chat transcripts, subscription-based emails, and more.

This information facilitates easier targeting and audience nurturing based on direct user insights. Collection methods include adding tracking pixels to your website or product, customer surveys, form conversions, and conversations with customers or prospects, with the data recorded into your CRM.

B2B Audience Data

Federated Learning of Cohorts (FLoC)

Federated Learning of Cohorts (FLoC) was a privacy-preserving technology that grouped users with similar interests into digital cohorts. Instead of tracking individual users, FLoC aimed to allow advertisers to target ads to groups of users who share common interests – protecting their privacy.

FLoC development was discontinued in 2021 when Google shifted its focus to Topics.

Google FLoC Examples

Source: https://web.dev/articles/floc

Topics API

According to Google’s Privacy Sandbox, Google’s Topics API is designed to protect user privacy by using browsing history to infer which interest-based categories may apply to the individual. Topics aims to help advertisers serve relevant ads without the cross-site tracking that was allowed with third-party cookies and without needing the specific website the user has visited.

google topics api

Source: https://developers.google.com/privacy-sandbox/relevance/topics

What B2B Marketers Can Do Now About Third-Party Cookies

We still don’t know exactly how the elimination of third-party cookies will impact every advertising channel, but what we do know is that the way B2B marketers operate and target will be changed significantly, especially amongst programmatic display platforms that rely on cookies to track users across the web. Here are a couple of ways to prepare your marketing campaigns for the future.

Implement Privacy and Cookie Consent Banners. 

Privacy and cookie consent banners are crucial to ensuring compliance with these changes. Software like a cookie consent manager automates the process of scanning your site, classifying cookies, and providing users with a cookie banner featuring options to accept, block, or customize their cookie preferences.

We anticipate seeing more ad solutions providers that currently rely on third-party data, like 6Sense and RollWorks, require a cookie consent banner during your account setup.

Utilize First-Party Data for ABM Strategies

First-party data plays a pivotal role in account-based marketing (ABM) as it enables the creation of more relevant, personalized marketing campaigns tailored to the specific needs and preferences of individual customers or prospects while building a highly targeted audience – with the data you already have in your CRM.

Having an account-based program up and running will give you a leg up on traditional advertising channels by simply having the tech infrastructure in place to capture and capitalize on first-party data.

Get to Know Google’s Privacy Sandbox

As an alternative to relying on third-party cookies, Google has been developing the Privacy Sandbox, aiming to offer a less intrusive solution to targeted advertising. The Sandbox comprises technologies designed to protect people’s online privacy while providing businesses with tools for successful advertising. As part of the Privacy Sandbox, Google has introduced the Topics API, proposing a new approach to cookie tracking. The algorithm works within a user’s browser, classifying them into high-level interest groups, such as fashion, food, or travel, which can be used for targeted advertising.

B2B Marketing in 2024

Educating yourself, your team, and your leadership on how this will shift your go-to-market strategy, KPIs, and pipeline metrics will require a lot of leg work in 2024. Unfortunately, most B2B marketing teams don’t have the time or budget to ensure that they’re putting together a thoughtful and strategic plan.

By working with RenderTribe, you get access to an entire team of experts to support your team through market changes and align that to your pipeline goals. Contact us today to learn how we help our clients build a process and infrastructure to solve for growth.

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