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Be Sure Not to Lose Your Cookies!

I’m sure by now you’ve heard that Google Chrome, Firefox, and Safari are going “Cookieless” and ending support for third-party cookies at the end of 2024. So do you need to worry about it? I think you probably should. While critical tools like Google Analytics will probably be fine for the most part, there are other tools that we, as marketers, use that will be affected.
cookieless marketing

I won’t go into great detail about what cookies are or how they work. We are marketers, so I’m assuming we know that many of the tools we use add cookies to our users’ browsers and obtain analytical data about them. So, if third-party cookies go away, will we lose data? 

Yeah… we probably will, so taking action now is important.  

What does “Cookieless” mean? 

It’s a bit confusing because headlines say that browsers are going “Cookieless.” Does that mean we are going to lose all cookie support? No, “Cookieless” means simply not supporting third-party Cookies. Third-party Cookies are cookies added to your browser by a domain you’re not currently visiting. For example, have you ever visited a website and then seen ads on a social media platform for the same product? They are using third-party cookies. Third-party cookies store information like your interests, age, demographics, and search habits. 

How will going “Cookieless” affect marketers? 

If we lose the ability to add third-party cookies, then the data we receive from the tools that require these cookies will be lost. 

All data collected will need to be either zero-party or first-party. Zero-party data is the data a user explicitly provides you, such as form submissions, quizzes, or surveys. First-party data is data you collect directly from your customers and audiences through interactions with them. For example, any information that is stored in your CRM, marketing automation platform, analytics platform, or internal business systems.

How will common tools be affected? 

I’ve selected a few common marketing tools to see what must be done to become compliant.

  • Google Analytics: As long as you have upgraded to Google Analytics 4 (GA4), which you should have done last year. You are fine. Google Analytics 4 (GA4) is considered “cookieless.” This means that Google Analytics 4 doesn’t use or accept third-party cookies.
  • CRMs Like HubSpot: HubSpot cookies are first-party. They only track user behavior on your website and first-party sources to capture first-party data. Form submissions and attributions should all work correctly.
  • Heatmapping tools like Hotjar: Hotjar Tracking Code cookies are considered first-party cookies. If the tool you use implements first-party cookies, you should be able to use them.
  • PPC like Google Ads: PPC will be hit the hardest. Remarketing will be much more difficult and less efficient, and getting very specific user information will be much more complicated. Most targeting parameters like age, location, and browsing history will disappear. You will need to rely more on aggregated data instead of personalized data.
  • Social Media ads: Social media ads served on the platform should not be affected. Since all of the data is first-party to the Social Media platform the ads should serve up fine. You do have to ensure that the conversion tag used on your website is implemented with first-party data OR that you have implemented the correct “conversion API” for the platform.
  • Social Media tags: This one is more complicated. The answer is that most social media platforms do have a first-party cookie option. But they require extra configuration. You will need to be sure and log in and look at the pixel tag settings for each platform to ensure that you are at least using both first and third-party cookies at a minimum. 
  • Review site widgets: What if you use a widget from a site like Clutch or G2 I have a sneaky suspicion that these will be slow to update. If they don’t use first-party cookies right now, I’d find a way to replace the widget with a custom implementation or delete it altogether.

What should you do? 

I advise moving forward in three phases: Triage, Foundation, and Strategy. First, fix what you need to maintain, then build a foundation, and finally, look to the future. 


First things first, let’s limit the damage. 

    1. Audit your website. In this phase, the first thing we will do is audit our website. Tools like the Privacy Sandbox Analysis Tool will provide you with a report of all of the cookies used on your website. 
    2. Inventory all your cookies: Place them into groups, first-party cookies vs. third-party cookies. First-party cookies are safe. Third-party cookies will have to be removed or updated to first-party alternatives.
    3. Cleanup: Delete unnecessary tracking tags and update any available third-party cookie with a first-party alternative. If a solution isn’t available, inventory the impact not having that data will have on your reports.
    4. Test: Perform a thorough test and ensure that all of your data is saving correctly after your changes.


After performing an initial triage, it’s time to build a foundation for the future. As we have seen in the UK and states like California and others, it’s only a matter of time before ALL websites to give people control over their privacy. If your company does sales outside of the United States, then you are probably already required to be GDPR compliant. 

At this point, we recommend establishing your Consent Management Practices. Consent management is a process that informs users about your data collection and usage practices and provides a way for them to opt-in or opt-out. 

Future Strategy

After performing triage and establishing a plan for data consent, you should create a first-party data strategy. This strategy should include which data solutions will be most helpful for your business and what changes to marketing practices you need to implement.

  1. Create a first-party data strategy:  Include a list of online and offline transactions to be tracked, identify necessary CRM events, and inventory important customer interactions.
  2. Evaluate your need for a “Customer Data Platform (CDP)”: Some businesses need a bigger first-party data store. If you lose access to third-party data, it might be time to implement your own customer data platform. 
  3. Update your marketing strategy: Include more zero-party and first-party focused initiatives.

Doing this work is important. Be sure to complete your transition in time using your internal team or an agency like Solid Digital. 

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