24. April 2024

3rd Party cookie deadline postponed: What does it mean for marketers?

Google has once again postponed the end of 3rd party cookies. This presents both opportunities and an urgent call to action for marketers.

Third-party cookies have been given a reprieve. In its latest announcement, Google revealed that the start of the phase-out of 3rd party cookies in Google Chrome has been pushed back again. The deadline was previously set for the end of 2024 but is now postponed to at least early 2025.

Google cites the following reasons for the postponement of 3rd-party cookies in Chrome:

  • Further investigation is needed into the technical and economic impacts of the shutdown, based on feedback from various market participants.
  • A review of the effects by the UK Competition and Markets Authority (CMA) is still ongoing.

Google’s alternative to 3rd party cookies, Privacy Sandbox, has already faced headwinds this year. In a report, the International Advertising Bureau (IAB) took issue with various aspects of the technology. Google responded with its own analysis.

While this delay provides companies and marketers with more time to adjust their strategies, the urgency to take action is now more than evident. Without preparation, the performance of their advertising campaigns on platforms like Google Ads or Meta could significantly decline, leading to poorer campaign return on ad spend (ROAS) and ultimately lower revenue.

The inevitable shift to first-party data

This is not the first time Google has postponed the deadline for this significant change, thus continuing to create some uncertainty in the industry.

Google’s plan to phase out 3rd party cookies in Chrome was first announced in 2020 and has since been postponed multiple times. In May 2023, Google announced that by the end of 2024, 100% of all Chrome users would be transitioned. Already, on January 1 of this year, 3rd party cookies in Chrome were disabled for 1% of its global users, roughly equivalent to 30 million people.

The decision was made under significant regulatory pressure from GDPR & Co. However, public perception, increasingly favoring more control over personal data, has also contributed significantly to the industry’s pressure to develop controlled data collection methods. Tech giants like Apple are already taking these developments into account by routinely blocking 3rd party cookies.

Early adopters have the advantage of better performance through first-party data

Many companies have already transitioned and are increasingly relying on first-party data. This data, collected directly from customers without intermediaries, allows for more precise and relevant customer targeting on ad platforms.

Companies that have already made this transition are already seeing better campaign results, often reflected in higher efficiency and increased revenue. This development underscores that the timely transition to first-party data is not only a necessity but also a significant opportunity.

Last chance for a head-start?

For marketing teams that have not yet transitioned to a first-party strategy, Google’s postponement of the deadline offers a brief respite – and possibly the last chance to gain a significant head start.

Because the end of 3rd party cookies remains inevitable and represents a fundamental change for the marketing industry. Companies that early on focus on first-party data and server-side tracking will not only benefit from better campaign performance but also gain a sustainable competitive advantage by establishing privacy as an integral part of their brand identity and customer relationship.

Link to Google’s press release

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