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Google's Cookie phase out - What does this mean for you?

Illustration depicting cookies fading away, symbolising the impact of Google’s cookie phase-out on digital marketing strategies.

Third-party cookies have been part of web browsing for almost three decades, with companies using cookies to track users’ website activities and to create better online experiences. However, as of 4th January 2024, third-party cookies have started to change. Google's recent announcement about its Tracking Protection feature on Chrome, means changes are on the horizon. We explore what this means for businesses and how they can adapt to stay ahead of the competition.

Understanding cookies

Cookies are small pieces of data stored on a user’s browser. These cookies serve various purposes, such as remembering your preferences, keeping you logged in to a website, or helping the website owners understand how you use their site. 

Imagine you're managing inventory for a website. Let’s say you're overseeing product listings for a supplier's catalogue. Utilising tracking mechanisms like cookies, your system can remember which products have been previously viewed by potential buyers. This ensures that when buyers return to the platform, they can seamlessly pick up where they left off in their search, saving time and enhancing their overall experience.

Here are some examples of different ways cookies are commonly used on a website:


  1. AUTHENTICATION - Cookies are often used to manage user authentication sessions. When you log into a website, a cookie is created to remember your login status, allowing you to access restricted areas of the site without having to re-enter your credentials on every page.
  2. PERSONALISATION - Cookies can be used to personalise a user experience by remembering user preferences and settings. For example, a website may use cookies to remember your language preference, preferred layout or shopping basket contents. 
  3. TRACKING & ANALYTICS - Websites use cookies to track user behaviour and gather analytics data. These cookies help businesses understand how users interact with their site, which pages are visited the most, and how users navigate through the site.
  4. ADS - Cookies are commonly used in online advertising to track user activity across different websites. This allows advertisers to deliver targeted ads based on the user's browsing history and interests.
  5. SECURITY - Cookies can be used for security purposes, such as preventing cross-site request forgery (CSRF) attacks and protecting against unauthorised access to sensitive information.

It’s essential to differentiate between first-party cookies, which are set by the website being visited, and third-party cookies, which originate from external domains.

First-party cookies are created and controlled by the website you are currently visiting, serving to enhance user experience by remembering preferences, storing login information, and tracking user behaviour within the site for personalised content and improved functionality. On the other hand, third-party cookies originate from domains other than the site being visited and are typically used by third-party services like advertisers or analytics companies, for example Facebook and Google Analytics, to track users across multiple websites, gathering data for targeted advertising or retargeting, and enabling personalised ads and insights based on browsing history. 

Google’s announcement

Chrome began to test Tracking Protection, a feature that limits cross-site tracking by restricting website access to third-party cookies by default. If you’re chosen, you’ll get notified when you open Chrome on either desktop or Android.

Rolling out to 1% of Chrome users across the globe as part of Chrome’s Privacy Sandbox initiative, the aim is to phase out third-party cookies in the second half of 2024. This timeline allows businesses to prepare for the impending changes, which promise enhanced safety and security benefits for users.


Although we don’t know the impact of a cookie-less strategy, marketers may have limited visibility into user preferences and actions, making it challenging to deliver targeted advertisements, tailor messaging to specific audiences, and optimise marketing campaigns based on data-driven insights. This absence of tracking mechanisms could result in less effective advertising, reduced engagement rates, and potentially higher costs as marketers rely on less efficient methods to reach their target audience. The phase-out of third-party cookies may necessitate a shift in marketing strategies. 

Additionally, the phase-out of third-party cookies could significantly impact retargeting campaigns. Retargeting, which relies heavily on tracking user behaviour across different websites, may become less effective without the use of third-party cookies. Marketers may find it challenging to reach users who have previously shown interest in their products or services, leading to decreased conversion rates and ROI on retargeting efforts. As a result, businesses may need to explore alternative strategies, such as first-party data collection and contextual advertising, to maintain the effectiveness of their retargeting campaigns in a cookie-less digital landscape.

Strategies to navigate the phase-out

While it presents challenges, it also opens up opportunities for innovation in a 'post-cookie' era, leading to a shift towards more innovative and privacy-conscious approaches.

Building first-party data and exploring alternative tracking methods will be crucial for businesses to maintain personalised experiences for users. By focusing on direct relationships with customers, companies can mitigate the impact of Google's new policy on their marketing efforts.

Marketers will need to explore alternative methods to understand customer preferences and behaviour, fostering creativity and new strategies. This could include leveraging first-party data more effectively, such as through customer surveys, loyalty programs, and email marketing. Additionally, marketers could focus on contextual advertising, targeting audiences based on the content they are currently engaging with rather than individual user data. Embracing these changes could lead to more authentic and personalised marketing experiences for consumers while promoting trust and transparency in the digital ecosystem. 

With the phasing out of third-party cookies set to happen in Q3 2024, if any businesses are uncertain about the potential impact of these changes on their operations, we encourage you to reach out. We understand that the evolving digital landscape can be daunting, but we're here to provide support and guidance, helping businesses navigate these changes smoothly.

As we move forward, it's important to remember that we don't have all the answers yet, but by working together, we can develop proactive solutions to ensure continued success in the ever-changing digital marketing environment.