How NOT to use Cookies for Marketing in 2024

Remember running down the hallway as a kid, chewing on a mouthful of cookies while screaming at your sister, tugging your stuffed animal by its leg as you went to go watch cartoons? Unbeknownst to you, amid all that chaos, you were dropping cookie crumbs throughout the house. While you didn’t notice, you know who did? Your mother. Now, what does that have to do with cookies for marketing?

The way we carelessly left cookie crumbs around the house as a child is the same way we surf the internet; leaving our personal information behind for Mom to collect. In this situation, Mom is a marketer who is looking for every smidge of internet information about you to produce better-targeted advertisements.

However, Google will be ending the use of third-party cookies for marketing as they transition to Google Analytics 4 in 2024. So what does that mean for marketers, and how should you prepare for this new age of targeted marketing? All of these are very pressing questions, but first, let’s learn a little bit more about cookies.

What are Cookies and Why are They Important?

Cookies are bite-sized nuggets of code that are collected by web browsers as users move across different websites. For first-party cookies, this helps with things like saving log-in information, website settings, and items in a shopping cart.

Third-party cookies for marketing purposes, however, are a different story. Here is Marketwake’s Paid Media Supervisor, Nicole Santana, who told us a little bit more about why third-party cookies for marketing are so important:

“Third-party cookies give us access to pseudo-first-party data without actually having first-party data readily available at our fingertips. Right now, marketers depend on these cookie crumbs to help target and remarket from an advertising perspective.”

In 2024, Google will be ending the use of third-party cookies for marketing purposes. Let’s look into how marketers have been using cookies for marketing.

How do People Use Cookies for Marketing Purposes?

Retargeting Ads

Third-party cookies are predominantly used for retargeting ads. Imagine you go to your favorite vegetable-based sock website,, put a pair of cherry tomato socks in your cart, then exit the page to contemplate your purchase. When you come back later to check Facebook, you may see an ad for another pair of grape tomato socks just waiting to be purchased! That’s advertisement retargeting, and it works because some code was left in your browser after you visited That code informed Facebook that you enjoy shopping for food-themed paraphernalia, so whenever they have a chance to present you with an ad in the future, expect to see some more of’s product line.

Collecting Data

Another way people use cookies for marketing is by providing demographic and online data that can influence a marketing strategy. Some of the data that cookies collect include:

  • Age
  • Gender
  • Location
  • Interests
  • Search engine behavior
  • Time spent on websites
  • Click-through rate

Starting in 2024, however, that is all going to change.

How Will Cookies Change?

Beginning in 2024, the use of third-party cookies for marketing in Google Analytics 4 will diminish due to artificial intelligence. Instead of tracking users individually, Google’s machine learning AI will use aggregated data to predict future consumer conversions. Rather than demographic information, what will be emphasized by GA4 is information based on the user journey and life cycle, as well as innovative key metrics that will help marketers know more about consumers than ever before. Confusing and scary, right? Although it is daunting, you can learn more about the benefits of the new Google Analytics and how to migrate to GA4 on our blog.

What Should You Do to Prepare?

If you should take one thing away from this blog, it’s this. Prepare, prepare, prepare! Here again, is Marketwake’s Paid Media Supervisor, Nicole Santana, on how best to prepare for the upcoming cookieless future:

Many experts corroborate Nicole’s message, noting that collecting first-party data will be the most efficient way of gathering as much information about consumers in the future. But what if your company doesn’t have access to that valuable first-party data? Here are some more strategies to take into consideration before 2024.

Post Cookies for Marketing Strategies

Cross-Device Tracking

Using techniques such as device fingerprinting and IP tracking to trace the path of users across multiple devices can help you better understand your audience and target them with relevant ads, even if cookies for marketing are not available. One thing to note about cross-device tracking is that it can raise privacy concerns as it allows companies to follow individuals across multiple devices and platforms, potentially collecting sensitive information about their browsing habits and personal information. Try to be cautious when using cross-device tracking so there is no privacy impediment while marketing.

User ID Providers

User ID providers are companies that offer solutions for identifying and tracking users across different devices and platforms. They provide a unique ID, such as an email address or mobile phone number, which can be used to link data from different devices and browsers, allowing for more accurate cross-device tracking and personalization. User ID providers can be integrated with ad networks and analytics platforms to provide more accurate and actionable data for advertising and marketing campaigns.

Contextual Targeting

Using contextual targeting, such as targeting ads based on the content of a web page or app, can help you reach your target market in a more privacy-friendly way than cookie-based targeting. Rather than using consumer data like most cookie-based trackers, contextual targeting uses keywords, topics, and general website themes as determinants for what ads will be present on a webpage. For example, on, an ad for a sale of Roma tomatoes from your local grocery store might pop up, because advertisers are aware of the general vegetable-based theme present on the website.

Closing the Jar on Cookies for Marketing

That is a lot to take in, and there is a whole lot more to consider when developing your post-cookies marketing strategy. But you don’t have to do it alone! Our team of experts at Marketwake is ready and available to help you transition seamlessly into this cookieless world, providing you with the best insight and marketing strategies available. Ready to get started? Let us know!


How are Cookies Used for Marketing?

Cookies are used for marketing purposes by helping track the data of users who browse the internet. When a user goes on a website, a piece of data is left behind in the web browser. When they move to a different website, advertisers will use that piece of data as information to inform what type of marketing effort will work best for that user at the moment.

What Kind of Cookie is Used for Advertising?

Third-party cookies are commonly used for advertising reasons. These are cookies for marketing that are placed by a domain other than the one being visited by the user. Third-party cookies are often used by ad networks to track users across different websites and collect data on their browsing habits. This data can then be utilized to target users with relevant ads and personalize their online experience.

What are Cookies in Digital Marketing?

Cookies in digital advertising are little pieces of data that are added to web browsers that give information about how certain users spend their time on the internet.

Can Cookies be Used to Target Ads?

Yes, cookies can be used to target ads. Advertisers can use cookies to track a user's browsing activity and deliver ads that are relevant to their interests. This is known as online behavioral advertising.

Marketwake team

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