Google Privacy Updates – The End of 3rd Party Cookies

Category: RECENT
June 14th 2021
4:27:16 pm

Advertisers are having kind of a hard time right now.

Earlier this year, the, thereby placing severe limitations on a brand’s ability to track and target California consumers.

Then, earlier this year, sent shock waves through advertising communities across the web.

Now, Google has announced that it will discontinue the use of third-party cookies in 2022.

In, the company detailed the reasoning behind this decision:

“As our industry has strived to deliver relevant ads to consumers across the web, it has created a proliferation of individual user data across thousands of companies, typically gathered through third-party cookies. This has led to an erosion of trust: In fact, 72% of people feel that almost all of what they do online is being tracked by advertisers, technology firms or other companies, and 81% say that the potential risks they face because of data collection outweigh the benefits, according to a study by Pew Research Center… That’s why last year Chrome announced its intent to remove support for third-party cookies, and why we’ve been working with the broader industry on the Privacy Sandbox to build innovations that protect anonymity while still delivering results for advertisers and publishers.”

The blog also expounded upon how Google would essentially supplant the technology to mitigate damage to its advertising platform and its users’ campaign performance.

That is what we are here to discuss.

If your company is concerned about the removal of third-party cookies, the implications the decision will have for your brand and how to navigate these uncharted waters, then you have come to the right place.

As always, let’s lay the foundation for the discussion by establishing what exactly is happening and how it stands to impact.

Google Ditches Third-Party Cookies: Clarifications and Implications

Let’s start with an important point: Just because Google is scrapping third-party cookies does not mean that Chrome tracking has come to an end.

Truth be told, while Google is discontinuing the use of third-party cookies in 2022, third-party cookies are just one of many tracking technologies that exist. Moreover, browsers like Safari and Firefox made this same move years ago.

Understanding this, as the originally-referenced blog goes on to state:

“Advances in aggregation, anonymization, on-device processing and other privacy-preserving technologies offer a clear path to replacing individual identifiers. In fact, our latest tests of FLoC show one way to effectively take third-party cookies out of the advertising equation and instead hide individuals within large crowds of people with common interests… This points to a future where there is no need to sacrifice relevant advertising and monetization in order to deliver a private and secure experience.”

Great!… But what does that mean?

Google’s Privacy Sandbox and Federated Learning of Cohorts

While Google is ending its use of third-party cookies and has no plans or intentions of building “alternate identifiers to track individuals as they browse across the web,” the company is looking to supplant some of the functionality of cookies with technology developed through Google’s Privacy Sandbox.

For those who are unaware, in 2019. This initiative is essentially aimed at producing a means of personalizing digital ads while maintaining user privacy.

That’s what Google claims about the initiative’s goals, anyway. More on this momentarily.

Google’s Privacy Sandbox ambitions are focused on establishing means to:

  • Deliver ads to large groups of consumers without collecting personally identifying data from browsers
  • Enable conversion measurements for advertisers, absent individual user tracking
  • measures on ads, such as preventing bot clicks
  • Allow websites to harvest user data from browser APIs while still maintaining user anonymity

This is where Google’s Federated Learning of Cohorts (FLoC) comes into play.

In a recent, the company details how FLoC advertising technology could be the answer to eliminating cookies while still allowing for interest-based targeting and consumer privacy.

Using FLoC, Chrome will track a user’s browsing habits across the web, ultimately placing them into various audience groups – or “cohorts” – based on their habits. Advertisers will then be able to target ads to different cohorts instead of individual consumers.

As of now, Google has yet to define what cohorts will exist. Nonetheless, they will be groups of folks with similar interests that sellers can then target with their ad campaigns.

Moreover, as Google details in its “privacy-first future” blog, FLoCs are apparently (almost) just as good at producing results as cookie-based ad campaigns:

“FLoC can provide an effective replacement signal for third-party cookies. Our 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 may sound all well and good, there are some implications and undercurrents that are important to discuss.

Advertising Implications

As it stands, there might be significant ramifications from Google’s decision for both consumers and retailers.

On the individual’s side of things, many might consider this to be a win for privacy, especially since this is how Google is framing the issue. However, there are many concerned that this move is little more than, with some likening FLoCs to “behavioral credit scores.”

On the business end of the matter, a variety of critics are arguing that the move is likely to put smaller advertising firms out of business and could also harm websites that rely on advertising revenue to survive.

The fact is that for most people, this massive change will be invisible. However, behind the scenes, Google is essentially placing Chrome in control over a considerable amount of the advertising process through its tracking and grouping of consumers into FLoCs.

That said, when third-party cookies are removed in 2022, businesses that have been collecting and might be capable of targeting adverts than those who are reliant on Google cohorts.

Therefore, in order for sellers to wrestle back some degree of control over their advertising efforts, it is vital for retailers to focus on customer relationships and the on-site experience as a means to amplify data collection efforts.

How to Collect First-Party Data

Even without Google removing support for third-party cookies, understanding how to harvest first-party data is a critical skill.

A few ways that sellers can up their data collection game include:

Optimize On-Site Experiences

Without the ability to utilize cookies to track consumers who browse a retailer’s site or abandon their cart before completing their order, it is vital for merchants to get visitors to willfully share their identity with the brand on their first visit to the site.

Fortunately, there are a variety of ways that this aim can be achieved. For instance, brands might opt to:

  • Present consumers with an enticing lead magnet
  • Use exit-intent popups
  • Offer free, limited-time incentives
  • Highlight how sharing data will improve the customer experience

These are just some of the many strategies that sellers can utilize.

However, in order for any of these to work, it is vital that sellers to be professional, intuitive, user-friendly (no matter the device) and visually appealing. Without all of these elements in place, visitors will be skeptical about sharing their data.

Once retailers have successfully collected a visitor’s information, there is little need to employ Google advertising to pull a person back onto the site.

Use Personalization to Increase Data Collection

When it comes to the quantity and quality of first-party data, there is no better source than dedicated customers. Therefore, for those who have already given brands consent to access their information, it is vital to use that data to as a means of harvesting more consumer data.

By personalizing product and content recommendations based on items viewed and purchased or content that consumers have previously engaged with, the more complete picture retailers can gain of their buyers.

Moreover, by understanding how buyers navigate and engage with the site, merchants can continue to refine their pages and implement new features that.

Similarly, brands should also aim for a high level of personalization in email campaigns, SMS messages and other outreach materials.

Employ a Referral Program

As third-party cookies move toward the digital dustbin, sellers are essentially losing the ability to nurture consumers who have visited their site without converting.

Therefore, it is critical for merchants to begin looking more toward like referral programs.

Given that tools like social media have given just about everyone a voice, sellers should leverage their most devout customers to bring others into the fold. By setting up a referral program and creating codes that individual users can share with their networks for rewards (when a new user signs up), retailers can potentially track referral pipelines to flesh out consumer profiles further.

Another method that merchants might consider adopting is creating and. While this can certainly be viewed as a means of potentially increasing eCommerce revenue, subscription programs can also be a great source of first-party data. By presenting customers with various quizzes, questions, and other query forms to improve their experience, retailers can develop customer profiles to a greater degree.

However, no matter the amount of first-party data that sellers are successful in collecting, Google’s decision to end the use of third-party cookies will ultimately have some impact on different ad types.

The Impact on Google Ads Targeting

The plain fact of the matter is that, in terms of measurement, all Google ad types will be impacted by this decision. The only question is: To what degree?

As has been noted throughout this piece, Google is currently working on solutions that will mitigate any potential gaps in tracking and measurement. That said, there is still a considerable possibility that reported conversions will decline, even though there has been no actual change in conversions.

As far as targeting is concerned, Google Search Ads and are likely to be impacted the least. The reason for this is that Google search ads primarily rely on keyword targeting to reach relevant consumers. Of course, retargeting campaigns that utilize third-party data will be heavily impacted.

Where Shopping campaigns are concerned, these use the information contained in to target consumers, so the elimination of third-party cookies won’t have a tremendous impact on this ad type.

That said, Google Display advertising will be the most affected in terms of targeting. The fact is that third-party cookies have been the backbone of behavioral targeting for programmatic display advertising for many years. Therefore, the elimination of third-party cookies means that display advertising could see significant disruptions in 2022, lest Google produces a solution.

Finally, as far as targeting goes, Google-owned and operated platforms like Google Discover and YouTube will be affected less than Google Display advertising.

With this in mind, let’s take a look at the steps sellers should be looking to take in light of this news.

Next Steps for Online Advertisers

When it comes to how to begin putting together a plan of action for these changes, there are three areas that merchants should focus on:

Data Collection

As discussed earlier, first-party data is more critical than ever before. Therefore, merchants should focus heavily on harvesting this kind of data by implementing first-party tagging via.

While most websites already use the global site tag (gTag.js and/or), it is still advisable to consult with development teams to ensure the site is all set in this regard. In fact, Google made this same recommendation in its Privacy Sandbox update blog, stating:

“We recommend customers implement sitewide tagging with the global site tag or Google Tag Manager in order to minimize disruptions during this time.”

Next, it is essential for sellers to gather and organize as much customer data (email, phone number, location, etc.) as possible while they are on the company’s site. Again, this can be achieved through lead magnets, loyalty and referral programs, exit-intent popups, incentivized surveys and a myriad of other ways.

Campaign Measurement

When it comes to continuing to measure advertising campaigns successfully, merchants will want to get set up with Enhanced Conversions for Google ads, which is currently in beta.

For those who have never heard of this feature before, as:

“A feature that can improve the accuracy of your conversion measurement. It supplements your existing conversion tags by sending hashed first-party conversion data from your website in a privacy-safe way.”

Additionally, sellers will also want to lean heavily into Google Analytics. However, it is wise first to get set up with a. In a nutshell, this is the new version of Google Analytics that sellers will want to run parallel to their current Analytics tracking. While this is not a critical step, it is advisable.

During this time, using these tools, retailers will want to place an increased focus on tracking overall sales uplift as channel attribution becomes more challenging.


Utilize customer match audiences (from customer lists) in Google Ads. While Visiture already utilizes these audiences in most cases, we are adopting new tools and methods to better facilitate the use of customer email lists within Google Ads.

Retailers who are not currently partnered with Visiture are advised to do the same. 

Expand to Additional Services

For sellers wanting to balance their advertising efforts after the recent changes, now is the time to lean on alternative services.

Here are two of the best additional that can be made during this changing climate:


With search existing as one of the main pillars of internet success, search engine optimization doesn’t fall far behind. 

However, a good , and knowing this, merchants must be prepared to put in the work now, rather than later. 

An average of one-third of search traffic comes from Google, meaning hundreds of millions of queries per day are passing through the search tunnel.

mens shoes google search

To ensure your businesses’ SEO is prepared to reach the most search engine users, working with the experts is a great place to start. can ensure your products are poised at the top of the SERPs for optimal results.


As one of the most profitable marketing channels to eCommerce retailers, email marketing should be at the top of your list for business growth. 

Many studies have shown email marketing efforts to produce tremendous returns for retailers. That said, it’s highly recommended that savvy business owners invest their time and energy in the realm of email.

To properly execute an email retention marketing program, we suggest turning to the masters for proven success. With guidance from , Visiture helps streamline the customer journey from start to finish.

Final Thoughts

The first thing to note is that sellers should not panic. As of now, not only does this change not take place until 2022, but advertisers and data engineers (inside and outside of Google) are actively seeking solutions that will allow for a smooth transition.

Remember, it is not in Google’s best interest to lose money. If advertisers cannot successfully run campaigns through Google, it will lose revenue to competitors.

Therefore, the best thing that retailers can do at this point is to stay up-to-date, focus on harvesting as much first-party data as possible and potentially begin shifting advertising priorities to different ad types, or even to alternative marketing methodologies like SEO and content marketing, email and the like.

That said, if your brand would like help ensuring that Google getting rid of third-party cookies does not impact its visibility in the SERPs, then reach out to.

Our team of seasoned SEO pros can help to craft a tailored, sustainable strategy for improving your site’s organic visibility and traffic, thereby mitigating potential problems in the advertising arena.