7th February 2024

The countdown to cookies crumbling 2024

User Photo
Amisha Rathod
Head of Media
Read time: 8min
Left Angle Mask

What’s behind all the news surrounding the phase-out of third-party cookies from Chrome browsers this year (2024)?

We explain the situation and provide regular updates to this blog to keep you up to date as things change.

Take a look at our April 2024 update below. 

What’s happening?

Cookies are a small piece of code placed in users’ browsers, and they can help publishers and advertisers understand more about a user and their online browsing behaviour. From now (Q1 2024) Google has started to remove cookies for 1% of Chrome users and plans to phase out all third-party cookies from all Chrome browsers eventually.

Why should I be concerned about third-party cookies being phased out?

Without third-party cookies, advertisers’ ability to target users based on their browsing behaviour and other attributes will be impacted, as will their ability to measure the performance of their digital campaigns.

Are there are any alternatives that will replace third-party cookies?

In a nutshell, yes there will be. Over the past few months, Google have been working on the Privacy Sandbox which is a collection of API solutions designed to help publishers and ad tech providers mitigate the impact of the phase out of third-party cookies. The core principle behind the Privacy Sandbox is to ensure that the solutions prioritise user privacy.

What can I do prepare for the full phase out of third-party cookies?

There’s a number of things advertisers should be doing ahead of the phase out. We’ve created a Cookieless Future Audit to give clients clear information about what needs work before cookies are phased out to ensure campaigns can be executed and measured effectively post the cookiepocalypse.

Please get in touch if you would like us to undertake the audit for you to assess your fitness and advise on how to adapt.

There’s also more detailed information in our webinar Masterclass Effective digital marketing in the age of privacy.

April 2024 Update

It's delayed again! This month we’ve had a pretty significant update, with Google announcing that the deprecation of 3rd party cookies will not be completed by the end of Q4 of this year.

In their statement, Google stated:

“We recognize that there are ongoing challenges related to reconciling divergent feedback from the industry, regulators and developers, and will continue to engage closely with the entire ecosystem.”

Last month the Privacy Sandbox came under some criticism in the US during the IAB’s  'As the Cookie Crumbles' event in Manhattan. Members of the IAB Tech Labs’s Privacy Sandbox task force highlighted challenges associated with their initial experiences of testing the API’s. This included incomplete documents, not enough data available when testing and a need for continuing investment and education.

In response, Google were keen to communicate that the Privacy Sandbox is not intended to be a complete replacement for cookies, and should be seen more as a building block for ad-tech companies to create their solutions. 

This, alongside the review from the CMA have clearly put pressure on Google to allow more time for testing to be done, and issues and concerns to be ironed out.

Whilst this delay has been announced, there is an inevitability about 3rd party cookie deprecation, and our advice is to continue to explore and test cookieless solutions. Having more time for testing is useful and by the time the deprecation rolls around, both advertisers and publishers should be in a strong position. 

March 2024 Update

This month we’ve seen major updates to Campaign Manager 360. The Attribution reporting tab is no longer what it once was, and all that remains is the Attribution Modelling tab.

'Path to Conversion' is available as the sole offline report, with all other reporting having moved to the 'Instant Reporting' tab.

The heavily reduced Attribution reporting tab will pose challenges for businesses and advertisers who have previously been reliant on these reports. Despite 'Path to Conversion' offline reporting remaining available, this move will no doubt encourage a shift towards GA4 and utilising the reports available there, which will include modelled data.

This leads on to the second update which is that GA4 now includes a new consent mode setting feature. Available globally, this feature should make it easier to set up Consent Mode V2 and make sure that data is coming through to GA4.

We’ve been helping clients get Consent Mode V2 set up, knowing its crucial to have this in place to ensure compliance and have data feeding into GA4.

If you haven’t set up Consent Mode V2 yet, its not too late, get in touch with us today!

February 2024 Update

This month (February 2024) it was revealed that the Competition and Markets Authority (CMA) have concerns about Google’s Privacy Sandbox, which Google will need to address before they can proceed with the full roll-out of 3rd party cookie deprecation in H2 this year.

CMA’s concerns focus on Google being able to benefit from user activity data which competitors will not have access to, and that publishers and advertisers may have limited ability to effectively identify activity of a fraudulent nature.

Over the next couple of months Google will continue working with the CMA to address and resolve these concerns. The next update is due in April, and Google appear confident that they will be able to allay the concerns and continue with their plans to retire 3rd party cookies in H2 of 2024.

We’ve also learned a bit more about the coming changes to Campaign Manager 360, as the platform evolves to be ready for the 3rd party cookie deprecation. Below are some of the key actions that advertisers should be considering implementing in CM360 to prepare for the retirement of 3rd party cookies:

  • Enabling Enhanced Attribution.  This will enable the use of Click ID’s similar to gclid to aid with deterministic attribution and match up clicks with conversion events.
  • Streamlining Floodlight Activities.  Disable any unnecessary floodlight activities and label essential floodlight to ensure attribution reporting is using the most important signals for conversion modelling.
  • Confirming Conversion Domain placements. This will allow conversion modelling to account for up to 3 domains where conversions may happen. CM360 practitioners will need to start periodically auditing the conversion domains assigned to placements to ensure they are correct.
  • Set-Up new Tracking Ads. Last year, CM360 rolled out an update to tracking ads which added the attributionsrc parameter to the tag code. Any placements using tracking ads that have been running for more than six months will need to be updated to use the new tags.

To help users keep a track of key actions, Google are introducing the Measurement Diagnostics Hub to CM360. This hub will allow users to see the configuration and status of advertisers in relation to their readiness for 3rd party cookie deprecation, making it easy for users to identify what actions advertisers are yet to take.

Google continue to reiterate that CM360 remains committed to providing advertisers with full-funnel, cross-device measurement, keeping privacy at its core.

We’ve been busy over the past few months advising clients of relevant actions. Get in touch if you’re concerned about your own preparation ahead of the cookiepocolypse!

January 2024 Update

The big development this month has been Google disabling third-party cookies from 1% of all Chrome browsers from 4th January, to begin testing Tracking Protection. This is a feature that limits a website’s access to third-party cookies by default.

Here’s what you need to know:

  • The 30 million browsers affected have been chosen at random – you’ll have been notified when opening Chrome, if your browser is one of them.
  • If any issues are detected, Chrome will give an option to temporarily re-enable cookies.
  • Tracking Protection allows further testing of the Privacy Sandbox APIs developed by Google to help advertisers target and measure their campaigns, in a privacy-centric way.
  • In the UK, the Competition and Markets Authority is keeping an eye on this to ensure that its not giving Google an unfair advantage in selling its own ads.

What’s next?

The next few months will be crucial for the development of the Privacy Sandbox, and we should expect to hear more about how the APIs will be integrated across the Google Marketing Platform.

Watch this space for further updates, in the meantime, get in touch with our experts to ensure you’re prepped ahead of the full cookie phase-out in Q3 2024. 



Newsletter sign up

Author Amisha Rathod
Channel Analytics