Google Analytics 4 in a Cookieless Future
The impact of deprecating Third-party cookies on business analytics
In the realm of digital analytics, Google Analytics 4 (GA4) has replaced universal analytics and emerged as a powerful tool for understanding user behaviour. While GA4 offers a wealth of data and insights, it’s important to understand the fundamental concepts that form the basis of its functionality so you can benefit from the possibilities, such as increased flexibility, privacy, reporting features and more. Gaining a deeper understanding can help in optimising your marketing strategies and reducing advertising costs.
This article delves into the key terms, such as metrics, dimensions and custom dimensions, calculated metrics, and recommended events – and, hot from the press: why main events are replacing conversions.
The concept of Cookies and privacy regulations explained
Cookies can be considered as small pieces of information that let websites remember you, your behaviour, logins, preferences, and more. Cookies help to give you a more personal website visit experience. These data fragments were once the cornerstone of online advertising and user tracking. But due to privacy issues, they are gradually fading out. This presents both challenges and opportunities for businesses, requiring every business to reassess data collection practices.
Browsers like Safari and Firefox have already blocked third-party cookies, while Google Chrome, the most widely used browser, is set to phase them out by 2024.
The decision was not taken lightly. These cookies have been instrumental in enabling targeted advertising, allowing advertisers to reach potential customers with relevant ads based on their browsing history and interests. However, growing privacy concerns and the rise of data protection regulations, such as the European Union’s General Data Protection Regulation (GDPR), have prompted browsers to take action.
For example: the latest update of IOS, The iOS 17 link tracking protection update, has made storage of cookies of users browsing from Safari limited. This was already the case for users browsing incognito, but with the latest release, this also is true for users browsing in the default browser.
(if you want to understand which impact it has on your data, reach out to UP Analytics here. We can help you to measure the impact).
To thrive in this cookieless future, businesses need to adopt new strategies. Here, we highlight the three most important ones, with one practical step you can take today in order to stay updated with the new trend.
Privacy-compliant advertising strategies for every businesses
Explore Contextual Advertising
Contextual advertising focuses on placing ads based on the content of the web page or app where the ad is displayed, rather than targeting individual users. This approach allows you to reach relevant audiences without relying on third-party cookies. An example of how you can use contextual advertising is by implementing affinity audiences in your campaigns in Google Ads.
Prioritise Transparency and User Consent
Be transparent about your data collection practices and obtain clear consent from users before collecting their data. Build trust with your customers by demonstrating respect for their privacy and data rights. All sites should have a consent banner to express which cookies are collected and used for personalised advertising.
Three things you can (and should) do to navigate the cookie-less era effectively:
- Provide users with easy-to-understand options for managing their privacy preferences, such as opting out of personalised advertising.
- Implement robust data security measures to protect user data from unauthorised access and breaches.
Embrace First-Party Data
First-party data, collected directly from your own website or app, remains valuable and essential for understanding your customers and their preferences. Focus on collecting and analysing this data to gain insights into customer behaviour and tailor your marketing efforts accordingly. Server-side tracking can be particularly helpful in collecting first-party data by capturing user interactions on your server before they are transmitted to third-party analytics platforms.
Read our article about the difference between client-side and server-side tracking here.
Time to adopt a privacy-centric approach to personalised advertising
The phasing out of third-party cookies signals a changing landscape for digital advertising. While it presents challenges, it also forces the industry to adapt and embrace privacy-centric approaches. There is no time to wait much longer, because the impact has already proven to be significant for businesses that make data-driven decisions.
If you find this information overwhelming, consider signing up for a GA4 UP subscription. With this subscription, we audit your setup, implement new feature releases and update you on new privacy releases (stay updated with GDPR / CCPA) for a small monthly fee. This subscription allows you to focus on your priorities while the experts handle the rest. Learn more about how we can support you here.