Navigating the Post-Cookie Era: Strategies to Plug the Leaks in Your Marketing Funnel


Third-party cookies that track customer behavior have long been an integral part of the digital marketer's toolkit, allowing them to segment and retarget their audience across the web. But all that is about to change, and the digital marketing world is about to undergo one of its biggest shake-ups yet. Google's decision to deprecate third-party cookies in the second half of 2024* means that marketers must radically rethink the way they approach online advertising, user-targeting, and analytics. From now on, they’ll need to prioritize user privacy and data protection while at the same time still delivering effective and personalized digital experiences. 

Quite how they’re going to do this was the focus of a webinar we held recently here at Relay42. From our research across 400 CMOs in Europe, 72% of major brands said the loss of third-party cookies is going to be a major challenge for them. So in the webinar, we asked our experts – Tomas Salfischberger, Founder and CEO of Relay42, and Richard Jokhof, Head of Customer Success & Strategy – what steps companies can take today to help make the transition as pain-free as possible. 

The question we asked during the webinar was: “Is your marketing team already preparing for the demise of third-party cookies?” And 52% said they’re still orienting, 37% said yes, we already have some solutions. Only 7% said they haven’t started yet. 

Luckily, it’s not too late to prepare – although the clock is ticking. Our experts came up with a series of actionable steps businesses can take to immediately adapt their marketing funnels for continued effectiveness in a cookie-less environment. These include ways that companies can evaluate where they’re at in each stage, and assess where they need to adjust. 

The change is going to be rapid, so now is the time to prepare. The webinar has been split into two blog posts for marketers to follow and learn from. Each one focuses on a different part of the marketing funnel – top, middle, and bottom. We also have a post on frequently asked questions that were given at the end of the webinar, and which we’ll be updating regularly here on the site. 

How to Prepare the Top of Your Marketing Funnel for Google's Third-Party Cookie Deprecation

The first post equips marketers with actionable steps to ensure sustained lead generation and customer acquisition at the top of the funnel. It explores practical ways to acquire new prospects and maintain conversion in the Discover and Interest phases, leveraging solutions such as Google Topics API, lookalike-based audiences, contextual advertising, and second-party data exchange. Moving from unknown to potential users involves website personalization, retargeting across various channels, and solutions such as Google's protected audience API for increased security and privacy. Programmatic advertising, affiliate programs, and the use of social media and search ads further improve marketing efforts across the funnel. To read the full article, follow this link >>

Future-proofing the Middle and Bottom of Your Marketing Funnel to Maintain Success Rates

The second article focuses on addressing the leaks in the middle and bottom stages of the funnel – the Conversion and Reconnection phases. In it, we cover consent-driven approaches and new technologies and look at the use of first-party and behavioral data for both owned and paid channels and how it can increase conversion rates. For the Reconnection phase, we discuss how brands can both recognize and optimize first-party data through strategies such as lookalike targeting and personalization. To read the full article, follow this link >>

The Q&A post answers key questions and concerns businesses have surrounding Google's privacy changes. Topics include current antitrust discussions and their impact on DV360 and Google Ads, solutions like Google Protected API, creating lookalike audiences, and preparing for an increase in customer acquisition costs after the sunset of third-party cookies. To read the full Q&A section, follow this link >>

This blog series aims to guide digital marketers through the turbulent waters ahead and advise them on best practices and key strategies for making the most of the upcoming post-cookie era. By staying informed and up to date, we hope that companies can weather this storm and emerge stronger and more resilient at the end of it. We hope you’ll join us on this journey. 

Seeking strategic guidance on adapting your marketing for a cookieless world?

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* On 23 April 2024 Google announced a third delay to the full removal of third-party cookies following criticism from the UK's Information Commissioners Office (ICO) and Competition and Markets Authority (CMA). The timeline has therefore been pushed to Q1 2025 and the most up-to-date timeline can be checked here.