The long-anticipated “death of the cookie” has been delayed: After setting a deadline to end support for third-party in Google Chrome by the end of 2021, Google recently announced an extension of that deadline to the end of 2023—giving advertisers and marketers two more years to build a post-cookies digital strategy.

If you’ve read our past coverage of Google’s shift away from cookies as a tracking tool, you know we’re a strong advocate of building a digital strategy that helps your business advertising make a smooth transition from cookie-based targeting to audience-based targeting.

Now that your business has more time to map out its future strategy, it’s worth taking another look at the implications of Google’s cookie extension for local businesses—as well as tips on how to best prepare for this change.

The Impact of Google’s Cookie Extension

According to industry observers—as well as Google’s own official statement—the main reason for extending the lifespan of cookies is to give Google itself more time to properly develop and deploy its new Privacy Sandbox solution to better protect private user data.

But there’s no denying that this delay will spark a sigh of relief among advertisers and marketers tasked with transitioning successful campaign strategies away from the use of cookies. Although larger businesses may have been better positioned to transition to a cookieless future if they were already subject to meeting Europe’s General Data Privacy Regulation, local businesses faced a much tougher transition since they likely weren’t accounting for international data regulations that limited their use of third-party data.

The shorter timeline could have been very stressful for American small businesses forced to implement a massive shift in their digital strategy all at once. Now, those businesses have a much more flexible timeline to prepare for this change—especially if they choose to navigate this transition alongside a digital advertising partner.

Why Shift Away From Cookies Before They’re Gone?

Let’s be clear: There’s nothing wrong with using cookies to target your digital campaigns in the short term. With nearly two-and-a-half years before cookies are scheduled to be obsolete on Google Chrome, there’s still plenty of time to leverage this tracking tool to drive campaign success and advertising ROI.

But even as you squeeze the last drops of value out of cookie-based targeting, it’s important to start laying the groundwork for your transition before those cookies are taken away. An audience-based approach to advertising can be cost-effective and successful in helping you drive business outcomes, but this transition—and your business’s best practices—may require some trial and error before your digital targeting strategy is firing on all cylinders.

Ultimately, an increased reliance on audience-based targeting and first-party data may actually improve your business marketing outcomes. The key to success is building channels to gather that first-party data, and to leverage the help of strategic partners that can supplement your in-house data with their own third-party data and audience targeting tools.

Tips on Switching From Behavior Targeting to Audience Targeting

Since behavior-based targeting is heavily reliant on cookies to identify and reach your audience, your advertising and marketing strategy will need to increase its use of audience-based strategies that leverage data and channels that aren’t dependent on cookies to identify targets.

As you approach this transition, the first changes you make need to occur at the strategy and planning level. Here are some key tips to lay the groundwork for a successful post-cookies ad strategy:

  • Invest in customer data acquisition. What channels can you build to increase your first-party data? Direct referrals, email newsletter sign-ups and customer surveys are great ways to build a first-party database that can help you understand your existing customer base and where to reach potential new customers. This may require an increased investment into owned media channels where your business is the one collecting the data—not another platform or company.
  • Leverage audience segmentation. When you know the basic demographic makeup of your target audience, you can target advertising through segmented campaigns in your local area. Addressable advertising and geo-fencing are two approaches to advertising that can leverage this information to reach relevant prospects.
  • Treat data collection like a business transaction. Consumers are wary of giving away their data—especially when they aren’t getting something in return. If you want to build effective channels for first-party data collection, make sure there’s a clear value proposition for customers and prospects. White papers and exclusive content are a great example: by filling out a contact form with basic lead information, customers can gain access to valuable, in-depth content relevant to both their needs and your business offerings.
  • Harness the targeting power of new data tools. Cookies may be on the way out, but other powerful targeting tools are available to your business. Identity graphs, AI, confidential computing and other new technology can help you leverage online user data while keeping data anonymous and protecting individual consumer privacy.
  • Build strategic partnerships. Overwhelmed by all this talk about cookies? Unsure how to move forward with building an audience-centric targeting strategy? A digital advertising partner can supply your business with the expertise and insight you need to respond to these changes and take your advertising to the next level.

If you need help building an ad strategy that can help your business grow both now and in the future, a digital advertising partner can make all the difference. Contact us today to find out how we can help.