Phasing out of third party cookies: What small businesses need to do.

This guide is designed with small businesses in mind – regardless of the country you are in this change will impact your digital marketing and you need to take a few hours to understand what is happening and also what you need to do to prepare.

We put this off during 2023 as we knew that Chrome would not change until this year but now we all need to take action. We spent half a day reading and researching about the phasing out of 3rd party cookies on Google Chrome and are now clear on the process. This guide is a result of our research.

The guide focuses mainly on the most popular Digital Marketing channels – Google Ads, Meta Ads and Linkedin Ads.

We will be focusing on Google Chrome as that is the most popular browser in the world and in the UK 45% of users are on it. Safari has already stopped using 3rd party cookies so no news there.

The general section covers all channels.

General Guidance on 3rd Party Cookies Phase Out

In terms of Google Chrome (most popular browser) they are phasing out 3rd party cookies in late 2024 with completion by the end of the year – Safari have already done so and Microsoft (Edge) will likely follow Chrome’s schedule.

In the UK 45% of users are on Chrome, 42% on Safari and then 6% on Edge and the other few % split.

A key thing to remember is that Google’s business model is heavily reliant on digital advertising so they are coming up with replacements in the background before phasing out 3rd party cookies so this is not the end of the world.

3rd party cookies will be “replaced” by the Privacy Sandbox for the web.

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In effect the difference in data Google and other companies will collect is something like “John is interested in fishing” rather than “John visited on 14th Jan 2024 at 12.23pm”

More general and less specific but still good enough to target users based upon.

With Google’s new technology (Attribution API) conversions will still be tracked on your website but other user actions may not be. This video explains it in detail:

Basically – Google track views and clicks on their site/s before a user clicks to an external website and then once on an external website (e.g. Your website) the conversion data will be tracked by the tracking tags that you have on the site and shared with the browser and connected back to the view and click data on the Ad platforms website.

However – all of the data is collected by the browser and not sent immediately individual action by individual action so as to keep it secure and private – It is then batched and sent in bulk by the browser to the ad platform or to your analytics tool etc.

Please note that you do not need to integrate or set up anything with this API – Google Ads have already integrated this into their platform and Meta will have done something similar.

Now onto some specific changes that we should think about:

Phasing out of 3rd party cookies impact on Google Ads

For each of the conversion types that happen on the website that are being used to track and count as conversions in the Google Ads account – These are the ones mentioned as “Primary” in the Action Optimisation column:

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 We recommend that you set up Enhanced conversions:

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Basically this allows you to send back hashed customer data for conversions that happen on your website (so are tracked by your 1st party cookies) back to Google so that they can tie up the user sessions with the conversions and continue recording the conversions accurately.

See the instructions here.

If you use Google Tag Manager for your 3rd party tracking see the instructions here.

For the search campaigns that target based on keywords, if you turn on enhanced conversions then you will only see an improvement in the number of conversions being reported and therefore an improvement in the targeting. Most of the AI based auto bidding solutions on Google ads require a good amount of conversion data in order to operate effectively.

Remarketing & Display etc

Once 3rd party cookies are gone then Google will not drop a cookie on users browsers and follow them around the internet serving ads for companies like yours.

If, for example you target users on Gmail or YouTube that are interested in <insert your service/product> then Google will currently target the users in 2 ways:

1) Based on the website content that they are viewing now – i.e. web pages about <insert your service/product>

2) Based on their previous browsing history and the websites that they previously visited.

With the end of 3rd party cookies the 2nd method will be lost and only the first method will remain which will reduce the targeting pool of users and also mean that the targeting is perhaps not quite as effective.

However – Google are investing in various ways to achieve the same targeting (or close to) without the use of 3rd party cookies – basically a lot of AI based prediction, which is not as effective as the more fact based nature of 3rd party cookies.

We think that customer match lists are going to become more important here. On all Performance Max, Demand Gen, YouTube, Gmail etc campaigns you should upload customer match lists to help with the targeting – of course if the campaign is targeting the UK then we should only upload lists of customers/leads that are in UK.

Here is more info on Customer match.

We think that the customer match list will also help to inform similar audiences which we can target on these kinds of campaigns.

If you turn on the enhanced conversions and also have customer match lists for different groups of potential customers/customers that are at different stages of your conversion funnel then you will be able to do quite effective retargeting and also use these to enhance the targeting on all of the above mentioned campaign types (also you can add customer match lists to search campaigns too with variable bidding options on these users).

So in summary for Google you need to do 2 additional things- f these are not being done already:

1) Set up enhanced conversions for all conversion types

2) Send Customer match lists to Google making sure to keep them up to date for all major lead and customer groups and ideally split by country too.

Phasing out of 3rd party cookies impact on Linkedin Ads

On Linkedin ads there are many lead gen based campaigns that run across the Linkedin website. These use 1st party cookies to track so are very reliable.

The 3rd party cookie changes on browers will have no impact on these campaigns.

If you run campaigns where you send users to your website and they perform conversion actions on your website then you need to make some changes now.

However – even if you do not currently run campaigns that send people to your website right now it would probably be good to make the changes to send first party data through the Insight tag now so that you are ready to run ads with traffic to the website if you want to.

By doing this Linkedin Ads will have more data available for the remarketing audiences even if the campaign you are running is a leads campaign on Linkedin as the first party data from users from all channels will get fed back to Linkedin.

Please read this article:

Then you need to do these 2 things:

Enable first-party cookies on your LinkedIn Insight Tag


Set up a Conversions API integration in Campaign Manager

Phasing out of 3rd party cookies impact on Meta Ads

Like Linkedin Ads, If you run leads campaigns on the Meta Platform then your campaigns will be fine and no change is needed.

If you run campaigns that send traffic to your website where users perform conversion actions then some changes will be required.

However – without starting to use customer lists, even the lead campaigns on Meta may suffer so we recommend that you start uploading customer lists to Meta too.

You can add customer lists in your account here:

Another thing on Meta that is worth settinhg up is the conversions API – This is a screenshot from the Events manager settings:

Read this short guide from Meta on how to set up the conversions API

There is also the option to use 1st party cookies in the pixel settings – which you already likely have turned on as that is the default setting:

That is about all that is needed to do for these 3 channels. Obviously each reader of this post will have a different knowledge level and a different set up in their ad accounts. If you have specific questions then please drop them into the comments and we will help you troubleshoot whatever problems you run into.

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