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Tips & Tricks

Cookieless Future: What It Means for Content Marketers

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When the calendar flipped to 2024, Google started phasing out cookies that track customers across multiple websites. Advertisers and marketers rely heavily on this third-party data to monitor consumer behavior and show relevant ads to shoppers. By the end of the year, Google plans to end the use of cookies completely

The world of PPC advertising will likely feel the most significant impact since the data is often used in efforts like retargeting, but there are ripple effects of this decision, too. Content marketers should make preparations now for a cookieless future.

Why are third-party cookies going extinct?

Before exploring what to do without third-party cookies, let’s review why Google is making the change. The company has talked about going cookieless for some time. Back in 2020, Google announced its plans to move away from cookies; this followed decisions by Safari and Firefox to end cookies, too. 

Reasons to thwart the use of these tracking tools mostly center on consumer privacy, but here’s a quick look at the reasons behind their extinction:

  • Consumers aren’t keen on being tracked online, nor do they welcome the collection of personal data without permission.
  • Consumers want the ability to dictate how their data is used.
  • Lawmakers have passed legislation to protect consumer privacy that companies must follow or face penalties and fines. 

What should marketers do now? 

Without third-party cookies, marketers will have less data to draw from. While it will take a toll on specific marketing tasks, there are things you can do to prepare for the upcoming change. Marketers should: 

Rely on Google Analytics

Google is only ending its third-party cookies, not its first-party cookies. What’s the difference? Third-party cookies follow customers across websites, while first-party cookies only follow customers around your site. So, upgrade Google Analytics to its newest G4 version to see where consumers went on your site, how long they spent on certain pages, and how often they visited. Content marketers can use this information to guide content creation. 

Start collecting your own data

Are you making efforts to collect your own data? If not, make a plan to do so. Many brands use a CRM to collect customer data, but you can also glean insights from other marketing platforms, like email marketing providers or social channels. 

See who your most engaged email subscribers are, for example, or see what kind of content your audience interacts with most on social and use the information to drive your content marketing efforts.

You can also help the marketing team by collecting data through:

  • Online surveys
  • Social polls
  • Newsletters
  • Gated content

Start planning data collection efforts that can help you build out your customer data. 

Rethink PPC ads

Without data from cookies, PPC ads look a lot different. Marketers relied on the data to serve targeted ads to tailored groups, so what now? You’ll still use data to guide your ad choices, just different data. Consider using: 

  • Location data: Target an audience near your business.
  • Demographic data: Target an audience that matches the demographics of your customer base. 
  • Contextual-based ads: Place ads on sites that align with your business. (An airline would advertise on travel sites, for example).

Google is also touting additional features that can help fill the cookieless void. The company encourages marketers to use its Customer Match, which targets lookalike audiences based on existing customer data, and its AI tools that can help identify the most effective keywords. 

Expand your marketing efforts

If your brand puts a lot of money into PPC and retargeting ads, it might be time to shift your priorities. While you don’t need to abandon online ads, it’s a good time to test your effectiveness with other channels. 

Maybe you should pull back your PPC ad budget and drop more into organic efforts like email and social. Build your email list, create valuable content, and reach customers through various newsletters and promotional messages. 

Or, defer some of your PPC budget to work with social media influencers or connect with customers through direct mail. Renew your focus on other marketing methods. 

Consider boosting your content output, too. Maybe your metrics indicate customer demand for more how-to articles or video tutorials. Increase your publishing cadence and watch your metrics to gauge its success. 

If you need a little help producing blogs, videos, or articles, can scale your efforts through its network of creators. Learn more about our fully managed content marketing services