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Cookieless Marketing: How to Prepare Your Google Ads by 2022

Vivian Phung
Written By
Vivian Phung
Published On
Apr 09, 2021
Laptop displaying the Google Ads overview page

Last year, Google announced plans to join Apple and Mozilla in phasing out third-party cookies by 2022. Altogether, Safari (19%), Mozilla Firefox (4%) and Chrome (64%) take up 87% of the global browser market. Seeing as other browsers already made the switch, it was inevitable for Chrome to catch up as well. 

Source: StatCounter Global Stats – Browser Market Share

Google’s transition was also a factor of growing privacy concerns amongst users and the tightening of global regulations, such as the GDPR and CCPA. As the current digital landscape shifts away from third-party cookies, it’s vital for marketers to prepare for upcoming alternative solutions. Continue reading to get a better understanding of how you can prepare for cookieless marketing!

What are cookies?

Cookies are pieces of information that are sent to your device from the website you visit. Every time you revisit a website and they remember your login details, content preferences, or even the items in your shopping cart – it’s because this data was written and saved in the browser cookie as a text file. 

First-Party Cookies 

First-party cookies are owned, stored and implemented by the website domain that the user visits. These cookies are used to collect data and remember user preferences, such as passwords and device IDs, which result in personalized experiences. Since this information is owned by the website owner and relies on user permission, it will not be blocked by Google.

Third-Party Cookies 

Third-party cookies are placed on a web visitor’s computer after being generated by a different site. This data is used for cross-site tracking for retargeting, behavioural targeting and more. These cookies will be phased out by Google on its Chrome browser by 2022.

What privacy changes will be made? 

The major drawbacks of blocking third-party cookies include its impact on creating audience lists, managing ad frequency, and measuring performance. In this response, Google outlined four things they will be implementing:

  1. Relying on first-party data from users who have a direct relationship with websites.
  2. Using automation and machine learning to fill in data gaps and predict user behaviour.
  3. Deliver the most relevant ads to users by referring to the context of where the ad will appear (mainly for display ads).
  4. Secure, cloud-based solutions for measurement and insights that encrypts and aggregates user data.

In 2019, Google launched The Privacy Sandbox initiative to find third-party cookie alternatives. Their proposed solution operates on a set of privacy-preserving APIs to support interest-based advertising, ads measurement, and more. More specifically, Federated Learning of Cohorts (FLoC) are used to maintain anonymity by combining data aggregation and machine learning to track clusters of people with similar interests, instead of individuals. This means targeting options available to advertisers won’t change, only the granularity of the audience data will. 

Google stated they will not be creating third-party cookie alternatives to maintain the integrity of data privacy and expects to begin testing FLoC-based cohorts with advertisers in Google Ads in the second quarter of 2021.

How can I effectively prepare for this change? 

The first step is to ensure you diversify your recovery and data collection methods. When setting up tracking on your website, implement one of Google’s sitewide tagging solutions, such as the Global Site Tag or Google Tag Manager. This will ensure accurate tracking and should be placed on every page of your site. 

First-party cookies will become more valuable than ever and can only be set when someone has contact with your site. If you haven’t already, start thinking of ways to compile your own first-party cookies by offering website visitors something valuable that prompts them to input their information. 

You can also consider investing in a customer relationship management (CRM) tool to capture and organize offline actions. This data can then be linked with Google’s advertising and measurement tools including Google Ads, Google Analytics and more. You can then re-engage these people by uploading an encrypted data file of contact information provided by users, such as email addresses and phone numbers. 

Although the removal of third-party cookies will affect retargeting to specific individuals, Google’s FLoC solution is prepared to show similar results. According to Google, their “tests of FLoC to reach in-market and affinity Google Audiences show that advertisers can expect to see at least 95% of the conversions per dollar spent when compared to cookie-based advertising”. While this sounds promising, Google plans on testing FLoC and new retargeting proposals, such as Turtledove and FLEDGE, over the next few months before final implementation. The best way to prepare for these changes is to stay up to date with how these changes to cookieless marketing unfold. 

Managing and optimizing your Google Ads for these changes may be difficult, but our experts can help. Contact us today to learn more!


  • Vivian Phung is the Paid Media Coordinator at TIA with a passion for data-driven storytelling and all things digital marketing.

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  • Vivian Phung is the Paid Media Coordinator at TIA with a passion for data-driven storytelling and all things digital marketing.

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