Attribution 11 min read

Checklist for Continued Paid Marketing Success After Cookie Depreciation

By Malcolm Gibb 6 February, 2024

Given the fact that Google has recently blocked third-party cookies from 1% (or 30 million) Google Chrome users, and their entire removal is expected by the end of Q3 of this year, it’s clear that 2024 is the end of the line for cookies. So, how can we ensure our paid marketing success after cookie depreciation?

Watch our webinar, Preparing Paid Advertising For A Cookieless Future in 2024, where we dive further into how you can get your business ready for the cookieless future!

Not only will 2024 see the demise of cookie-based tracking, reporting and measurement, but the Digital Markets Act (DMA) 2024 will come into force in March of this year. This piece of legislation is aimed at ensuring fair and open markets, and regulating how gatekeepers, such as Google, TikTok, Meta, and Amazon etc, process and manage personal user data. 

This new legislation has widespread implications for digital marketing and advertising in general. In theory, it will put more power into users’ hands of what personal data they wish to hand over to these platforms for ad targeting and measurement purposes. For marketers, it means we’re left with less observed and measured data from which to optimise our campaigns.  

Artificial intelligence will inevitably step into the forefront of analytics and attribution this year. The very nature of AI’s ability to process large volumes of data provides a huge opportunity to solve the attribution riddle left after the demise of third-party cookies. 

A more robust and accurate alternative is what is needed, with GA4 offering behavioural modelling in an attempt to bridge this gap, we are heading in the right direction. On the next level up are cookieless attribution solutions like our very own Corvidae, which returns data of a far higher quality than was ever returned by cookie-based platforms.

All this means that thankfully, the removal of cookies doesn’t have to mean the end of your marketing attribution and targeting; and can provide the stepping stone to another level of accuracy and optimisation. 

Our checklist for continued paid marketing success after cookie depreciation

There are several actions that we advise taking imminently, not only to act compliantly with legislation but to future-proof your campaign measurement. Use our checklist below to be ready for the great cookie crumble of 2024:

Ensure your consent mode is compliant. 

We advise doing a full audit sweep of your tag management and consent mode options. Depending on which platform you use, utilising debugging and preview tools to understand what third-party and other cookies fire when consent is given and rejected is key to confirming whether you are compliant or not.  

Make sure that you implement Consent Mode to ensure that you can continue advertising across Google products and don’t risk data loss. 

Consent mode consists of three factors to ensure a successful implementation: 

  1. EEA Presence

If you advertise or have customers in the EEA or a region with opt-in consent regulations (UK is included in these conditions) 

  1. Consent banner & Consent mode 

Consent mode is a mechanism for passing consent signals to respect user consent choices made on a consent banner within a website or an app. 

  1. Google Tag (Web) or Google Analytics for Firebase SDK (Apps)

Must either use Google Tag, Google Tag Manager or GA for Firebase SDK. Any legacy tags are not supported. 

A diagram of a website

Description automatically generated with medium confidence

 Consent mode is a requirement to continue advertising on Google Ads from March 2024, so we recommend acting as soon as possible before the deadline to avoid any suspensions or loss of data! 

A screenshot of a computer

Description automatically generated
Audit Third-Party Cookie Usage

Alongside reviewing your consent mode, we recommend also auditing your third-party cookie usage across your domains. Old ad publishers or platforms, or even hard-coded tags from years ago may end up causing issues on your site. 

The best way to do this is to utilise preview/debugging tools from within your tag management platform such as Google Tag Manager preview. Review what tags fire from what triggers and what data is being sent from them. Understand whether consent mode is working through previewing with both consent rejected, and accepted.  

Implement Enhanced Conversions for Google Ads 

Whilst not mandatory to continue running Google Ads, Enhanced Conversions for Google Ads is a tool implementation that passes back customer conversion data to your server for signed-in Google customers. We recommend implementing Enhanced Conversions for Google Ads to improve the data quality of reported conversions back into Google Ads which also helps with optimisation of campaigns.  

A diagram of a computer

Description automatically generated with medium confidence

To implement enhanced conversions some steps must be taken before you can do so. 

You must either have the Google Tag or use the Google Tag Manager, as this ensures conversions are being captured appropriately. 

You need to use a Google ads conversion tracking tag as your conversion source as you cannot implement enhanced conversions on a GA4 imported conversion 

Finally customer data must be submitted somewhere on the website and it works best with an email address but phone number, name, and address can also be used or added as additional data to help with the match rate. 

Once you’ve confirmed those steps you can start to implement enhanced conversions 

First of all navigate to tools and settings, conversions and then settings – you’ll see a section for enhanced conversions where you can tick to turn it on and agree to the policy. 

Next, you must choose your implementation method based on your setup. You can either implement via the Google Tag or Google Tag Manager. Again, there are many helpful guides around how to do this but if you require further support or guidance please feel free to reach out to us. 

A screen shot of a message

Description automatically generated
Implement Conversion API for Meta Ads 

If you are running Meta ads and relying solely on pixel-based tracking for conversions then implementing Conversion API will help avoid significant data loss and conversion reporting. Conversion API does this by verifying customer data with your CRM so that Meta can effectively target and optimise toward those conversions.  

Implementation of Conversion API for Meta ads can significantly reduce cost per result through ads and can also improve the effectiveness of Meta’s algorithm for targeting. 

To set up Conversion API you may need some development resource, or assistance from your agency. To start, navigate to your pixel from within Business Manager and then select Create New Event and choose Conversion API. 

A screenshot of a web page

Description automatically generated

From there you can select whether to set up manually or integrate via an existing partner. If you use any of the partners below, the implementation is straightforward. Otherwise, you will manually select parameters to include, and a developer will be required to produce some code to complete the setup. 

A screenshot of a computer

Description automatically generated
Embrace AI Modelling 

We’ve all been through the changes from Universal Analytics to Google Analytics 4 during 2023, and most of us are observing significant changes in reported data. The demise of the cookie will inevitably be no different and a serious challenge for marketers. 

Thanks to the very nature of AI lending it to being fantastic at processing and modelling large quantities of data, a side effect of the demise of cookie-based attribution provides an opportunity for marketers. With AI-based attribution models, we have an opportunity to reach new levels of accuracy in their attribution data, unattainable previously even with cookie-based models! 

AI-based modelling and stitching will come to the forefront through tools such as Google Analytics 4, which offers behavioural modelling solutions. This is a huge step in the right direction in the attempts to bridge the gap left by cookie-based solutions.

If you’re interested in maximising the potential of your attribution efforts, we provide our own patented AI-driven attribution system: Corvidae. With Corvidae, you can get full visibility over the whole customer journey, even if the user switches devices part way through. Thanks to AI-based attribution solutions, the cookieless future is a huge opportunity to do attribution and targeting better than we ever have.

Need help getting ready for cookieless?

I hope that you find our checklist useful and that it helps to get you up and running with your preparation for running paid marketing after the transition away from cookies!

If you need any additional help with implementing any of the ideas in this post or have further questions about how you can prepare for these changes to how we market, get in touch with our team of Paid Media experts to find out how we can help!

Identify wasted spend with our ROI calculator

Own your marketing data & simplify your tech stack.

Have you read?

See all articles