Third-party cookies: is your B2B marketing about to crumble?

Mark Gillam MarTech


Back in January 2024, Google began phasing out 3rd-party cookies – although only 1% of Chrome users were affected by Feb 2024. The real urgency now is because Google is depreciating them all, and Google Chrome has a significant 63% of browser market share.​ It is already eliminated on Safari & Firefox.​ The upshot? 3rd-party cookies are coming to an end, and it will affect your B2B marketing.

3rd-party cookies are primarily used for cross-site tracking and remarketing. They allow advertisers to personalise marketing based on a user’s previous online behaviour on a different site.​ The main ways that B2B marketing will be affected are:

  • Cross-site tracking​: collecting data and serving ads based on user activities from different websites​.
  • Retargeting​: using a user’s previous activity to serve them ads across the web based on products and services they engaged with​.
  • Frequency capping​: the ability to limit the number of times a specific user is shown an ad​.

Many media outlets are suggesting there will be a “cookie-less future”, but this is not the case. 

1st party cookies will not be affected. You use them on your site to remember log-in details, what’s in shopping carts, and preferences. You can breathe again.

Will it affect other parts of your marketing stack?

Analytics still means insights

Your analytics will still work. GA4 and Adobe Analytics use 1st-party cookies, so there is limited impact and they will continue to provide insight.  There will be compromises though. For example, Google leverages machine learning with statistical modelling to fill in data gaps and, as the world becomes less dependent on cookies, it will lean on these inference methods more.

You can still reach your audiences on leading paid media and social platforms

Google, Meta, and LinkedIn conversion pixels use first-party cookies, so there is no impact here – but your targeting options will be reduced.​

The importance of firmographic and demographic targeting will be increased on these platforms. What is noticeable is that categories such as interests within a platform are often informed by signals from third-party sectors, so monitoring the accuracy and effectiveness of campaigns relying on these criteria is vital.

The most significant of these for B2B marketing is remarketing.

Remarketing to website visitors

On third-party sites, using cookies will no longer be as easy, but remarketing as a discipline is not dead. Remarketing using email matches will continue, and it will still exist as a technique – but only within a singular site, like LinkedIn, as this relies on 1st-party cookies.

What’s changing is that you won’t be able to build remarketing lists based on visitors’ activity on your website in the same way as we have done in the past, as that used 3rd party cookies. Many of the largest platforms now offer Conversion APIs which don’t use 3rd-party cookies and would allow you to build targetable segments of people based on events they take on your site, however this requires some Tag Management integration work, so it is not as simple.

Take heart. LinkedIn offers enhanced selection criteria for remarketing to prospects who have engaged with your ads or pages. Although LinkedIn is very much a walled garden, it is not new news that it is a vital part of every B2B marketer’s thinking.

Will it affect display campaigns?

A little, but it only increases the importance of context-based targeting. Some platforms, such as programmatic display, will not be as effective as they will have less targeting options.

Is it the start of something bigger?

Yes. It is driven by privacy and consent, and increases the importance of data capture using content and sign-up boxes where you store consent. Just like when GDPR was introduced, or The Privacy and Electronic Communications (EC Directive) Regulations 2003, having an opted-in list of customers is what every B2B marketer wants.

There are stricter rules for obtaining user consent because of Google Consent Mode and this will need changes to cookie policies to allow the continuation of Google Ads targeting in EU countries from 1st Apr 2024.​

What should you do about the demise of 3rd-party cookies?

There are plenty of playbooks that provide marketers with advice. One of our favourites is EY, but they do not take the perspective of those targeting a niche. However, we do.

Our biggest recommendation: don’t panic.

Ramp up production of thought leadership assets and campaigns to collect more 1st party prospect data.​ Having reasons to sign up is essential.

Ensure existing 1st-party data is clean and segmented.​ Double down and make sure you are storing permissions. Over time, many B2B marketers have taken the “legitimate interest” option from GDPR, meaning this is less important. It is not. This is a one-way street. Gathering data following the principles of Google Consent Mode is vital.

Try to eliminate customer data silos that currently exist with data stored in different parts of your marketing stack. You are bringing it together. It will make managing and using it more straightforward.​

Delivering personalised messaging will rely more on the quality of your 1st-party data.​ Email will become an even more important means of reaching prospects/customers and converting them. Journeys and ​flows will be vital.

On the acquisition side, anticipate using context-based targeting in digital campaigns, as niche trade journals and publications will become even more important in reaching your audiences. You won’t be alone, though – so expect more competition. Plan your media further in advance.

This may lead to the rescue of some media outlets, which PWC reports have been in decline for years.  Trade media has been part of our thinking for years, and too many have sadly gone under. We’d welcome a resurgence of those niche titles that command the respect of those hard-to-reach audiences we specialise in.

This is only the start, too. Initiatives such as the need for Google Consent Mode on websites are in response to consumer concerns about privacy, and regulators – particularly the EU – are taking steps in response combined with a desire to introduce fair competition. There will be more initiatives like the demise of 3rd party cookies in the future, so watch this space!

If you need guidance navigating this subject, we can help. Content, campaigns and MarTech is at the heart of what we do as an agency. Get in touch.

Mark Gillam

Mark Gillam

Analyst and Planner

Mark leads our performance marketing team spanning campaign planning, creative, activation and reporting. What he doesn’t know about MarTech is not worth knowing. You’ll find him working in the family pizza restaurant on the weekend too.