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Cookieless Marketing Needs First-Party Data: 4 Tips To Run With

14 September 2021

You might have heard about Google going "cookieless." Don't worry, they aren't coming for your favorite double chocolate cookies. 

We're talking about advertising cookies — those little pieces of code that advertisers like Google use to track user behavior. 

In early 2021, Google's David Temkin shared that Google is ending the use of third-party cookies.  

So what does that mean for B2B marketers and, maybe more importantly, how will it impact their beloved ad targeting? 

Here's what you need to know, including tips that the Leadfeeder PPC team is using to prepare for the future of paid marketing. 

Note: Leadfeeder is a buyer-intent tool built for a cookieless future. Sign up for a free 14-day trial and start identifying high-intent leads today. 

What does cookieless marketing look like for B2B marketers?

For B2B marketers, a cookieless world might make it more difficult to track users across devices, which, in turn, can make paid ads less effective (and therefore more expensive.) 

Is Google going cookieless a huge deal? 

Yes and no. 

This shift will fundamentally change how advertisers track users and is considered a win by folks worried about internet privacy. 

B2B marketers already have a tough time — there's the longer sales funnel, the difficulty identifying companies versus actual people, and the fact that most B2B purchases require input from multiple stakeholders. It’s a marathon, not a sprint.

B2B marketing is not all doom and gloom, though. 

I think B2B marketers are actually in a better spot compared to B2C marketers — we're already used to having to target users more broadly and paying closer attention to buyer intent. 

What do you need to do to prepare for B2B cookieless marketing? 

Now is the time to double down on first-party data collection and lead generation efforts. 

These strategies give your brand direct access to your audience — rather than relying on Google and other marketing platforms to select who you target. 

4 tips for adapting your Google Ads strategy for a cookieless future 

Now you know what to expect for the cookieless future. Hopefully, you're realizing it's a big deal, but not the end of the world. Google will always shake things up, so I think most of us know this will happen from time to time.

But what about Google Ads? Here are four strategies I'm seeing B2B marketers use — and some of these are ones we're putting into place here at Leadfeeder 

Tip 1:  Leverage first-party data 

This is, by far, the best solution for Google Ads and marketing in general. Google's Privacy Sandbox may work out and improve ROI for Google Ads. The problem is we just don't know.

First-party data is data you collect about your audience yourself. Rather than relying on Google or Bing or whoever to share scraps of their data, you go out and DIY. Similar to a crochet project. 

There are several ways to collect first-party data, like: 

  • Email marketing 

  • Surveys

  • Mobile apps

  • Website tracking tools (like Leadfeeder 👋 )

  • Customer service calls

  • CRM systems 

Using first-party data, you can target specific users directly. 

For example, you can upload your email list into Google Ads and target current subscribers. It's far more direct and helps B2B marketers better target specific users, especially for targeted campaigns like ABM

You can also use first-party data in B2B retargeting campaigns. 

It's worth noting that you can use vanity, subdomains, and country-specific domains to gather first-party data. Which is good news for PPC, where you might use landing pages not on your core domain. 

There is, however, a five domain limit, according to Ginny Marvin, Google Ads liaison. 

Tweet from Ginny Marvin about cookieless marketing and domain limits

Disclaimer for the EU: In the European Union you need permission to use a customer's email address for advertising purposes (to make sure it's GDPR compliant). We always recommend double-checking the GDPR laws in your country before advertising 👮🏻‍♀️

Tip 2: Use AI-based bidding strategies 

Google has recently launched Smart Bidding, an automated bidding strategy powered by AI. A lot of people in PPC don't want to hand their targeting over to Google, which is kind of what it feels like. 

However, there are some benefits to leveraging AI-based bidding. Most notably: 

  • Google claims it can make more accurate predictions. Only time (and data) will tell us if that's true. It may be worth testing at the very least. 

  • It will save you time. Since you won't be making as many hands-on adjustments, you can focus on other PPC tasks (like gathering first-party data, maybe 🤔.)

  • Solid performance reporting options. You can, for example, test Smart Bidding against your current strategy, use simulators to forecast ad performance, and even set up notifications to flag issues. 

According to Google, bids are automated in real-time, which allows you to adjust ads in real-time (without managing ads manually 24/7.) You can choose the metrics that matter to your brand and then AI will take over the bidding. 

Tip 3: Install Google Analytics 4 today 

Google Analytics 4 isn't just an update to the same old platform. 

It's a whole new ball game. 

Formerly called App + Web, it offers a ton of different reports and a completely new user interface. For starters, it's an event-based platform, which means every user interaction is tracked as an event (rather than the previous session-based model.) 

Tracking events, rather than sessions, makes it easier to track customer paths and improves cross-platform analysis. 

The data Google Analytics 4 is gathering will be crucial in a cookieless world, so I strongly recommend turning it on now

Google Analytics new reporting view

The good news is, you don't have to entirely switch. You can run Google Analytics 4 now to gather data and keep using Universal Analytics (the new name for old Google Analytics) until you're ready to make the switch. 

Tip 4: Use location and time-based targeting 

The most effective PPC ads reach the right people at the right place and the right time. Targeting users based on location and time can help you reach users with buyer intent at the perfect moment. 

For example, B2C organizations can use beacon technology and SMS to send a user a coupon as they walk by their location. 

B2B marketers need to get a little more creative, but it's still possible. 

You could pair first-party data with time-based targeting and use Google Ads to target a user one day after they visited your pricing page, for example. 

Cookieless marketing needs first-party data to succeed 

First-party data is the future of cookieless marketing. While cookies haven't been completely phased out yet, it's coming fast. 

To succeed, B2B marketers need to focus on collecting first-party data and turn on Google Analytics 4 now so you'll be ready for the future. 

Note: Leadfeeder is a first-party data tool that tracks and identifies the companies that visit your website. Sign up for a free 14-day trial and start uncovering leads today.

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