While Google will still collect data on user behavior in Chrome, after 2023 as per the latest update, it will stop sharing this information with advertisers. The decision, Google says, is about data privacy and protecting users’ personal information. 

Google’s decision is not an isolated trend, nor are they likely to reverse the decision. To put it in context, Firefox started blocking third-party cookies by default in 2019 and Safari followed suit last year. 

While you might not like it, you have to face facts: third-party cookies are going away. According to an Adobe survey, only 37% of companies are “very prepared” for a world without third-party cookies, which means they could see an impact on their Google Ads campaigns if they don’t start getting ready. 

With the deadline fast approaching, it’s time to mitigate the impact of cookieless marketing and work out what steps to take to ensure your Google Ads search campaigns don’t experience a sudden drop in ROI.

What Does Cookieless Advertising Mean?

In the past, many PPC and SEM account managers have relied on cookies to target ads and understand what a person does after they click on your ad. Cookies allow marketers to virtually follow users around the internet, tracking the sites they visit. Marketers can then create targeted ads based on users’ browsing behavior and interests. This is the essence of Google Ads remarketing campaigns. 

However, with people hopping from one device to the next, and the existing restrictions on other browsers, it’s become more difficult to rely on cookies to know what actions users are taking and when a conversion has taken place. 

Now that Google has decided to no longer provide this data, and stop marketers tracking user behavior, it will be difficult to understand how your campaigns are performing and whether they are meeting your target revenue goals. Marketers will also struggle to tailor their ads to a user’s behavior, meaning that the ads served could be irrelevant or out of place. 

We’re all used to receiving personalized recommendations, whether that’s a Google Ad or a product recommendation from an ecommerce, and without this data, user experience could suffer and ad performance could drop. 

PPC and SEM managers need to find other ways to target users and continue to run successful Google Ad campaigns. 

How Do I Get My Google Ad Campaigns Ready for a Cookieless World?

The end of third-party cookies is not the end of the world. You just need to find alternatives to help you optimize your ad campaigns and keep ROI high. There are other ways that you can target customers that don’t involve identifying them through third-party cookies. 

1. First-Party Data

Instead of relying on third-party data, there are other ways that you can collect the necessary information about users to tailor and personalize your Google Ads campaigns. First-party data can help. If you’ve never heard of the term “first-party data”, let us explain. 

When you collect your own data from your website, events (virtual and in-person), newsletters, or social media, your own ecosystem in summary, then this is first-party data. It differs from third-party data as customers have actively opted into you using this data when you contact them. 

You can use first-party to tailor your messaging according to the data users have shared with you. It’s important to try to grow this audience and encourage them to share their interests and details with you, so you can target them better with ads copies and context.

Make sure you can collect and centralize this data in order to use it in campaigns. A good idea is to integrate your different data sources with Google Analytics so you can keep track of it in one place. 

In terms of data collection, if you haven’t already, you need to implement one of Google’s sitewide tagging solutions, such as the Global Site Tag or Google Tag Manager, to ensure visits to your website and conversions are accurately recorded. 

2. Location-Based Targeting

If you can’t use cookies to target users, you need to take advantage of the other tools Google provides to narrow your audience and make sure your ads are being served to the right people. 

It’s unlikely you’ll want your ads to show up in every country across the world. Google Ads Geotargeting –– otherwise known as local PPC –– only shows ads in the location of your choice, even to zip code level. 

If you’re only showing ads in certain countries or regions, consider including location-specific keywords to better target your audience, as well as optimizing the content of your ad to include these details. Also, remember to enable location extensions and call extensions in your local ads. 

3. Contextual Targeting

With contextual targeting, Google uses your keywords or topics to match your ads to relevant sites. For example, if you’re a furniture store, you can choose home interior as your topic, and Google will show ads on sites that this audience is interested in. The audience data is anonymized, rather than using third-party cookies. You can then create personalized ads that match the interests of this audience. 

4. Google’s Federated Learning of Cohorts (FLoC)

Another development to be aware of is Google’s Federated Learning of Cohorts (FLoC), which is part of Chrome’s Privacy Sandbox. While FloC is still in development, the aim is to provide an effective replacement for third-party cookies when they are finally deprecated by 2023. 

FLoC works by clustering large groups of people with similar interests, but it keeps each person’s web history private on their browser.  It means –– in theory –– that marketers can still personalize and target ads but to an anonymous audience. 

According to Google, the tests have been very successful so far, “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.”

5. Optimize Your Keyword List

If you want to target users effectively, you need to make sure you have an up-to-date list of keywords, which also includes adding negative keywords. You must always be targeting the best keywords for your business and understand which search term keywords belong in which ad group.

If you’re building dynamic search campaigns based on your website content and not individual keywords, then you need to focus on keyword relevancy and discovering new keywords that can give your Google Search Ads optimization a headstart over your competitors. 

As Google’s search algorithm seeks to understand more about the intent behind each search, making sure that your keywords and website are relevant, that you serve high-quality content, and that you deliver a superior user experience are important if you want to continue running successful ads. 

Stay Informed About Google Updates

This won’t be the last major update that Google makes that will affect PPC advertising. Once you’ve mastered search marketing in a cookieless world, something else will come along that you’ll have to grapple with. Your work as a Google Ads specialist is never done. 

Staying up-to-date with the latest trends in PPC campaigns is crucial to success. Subscribe to our blog to make sure you know what’s coming next and how it will affect your Google Ads campaigns. 

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