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Have you been shopping online and noticed that ads for certain products follow you to other websites? This is the result of a tracking method called 3rd party cookies and has been a mainstay of digital advertising for years; however, times are changing.

In January 2020, Google announced plans to significantly disrupt how advertisers track their digital campaigns by eliminating 3rd party cookie tracking. The road has been bumpy, and Google has pushed their timelines back into 2023 to allow advertisers more time to adjust and Google more time to deliver an alternative.

If you’re a Google Analytics user, this update affects you. Google has an alternative, cookie-free tracking solution that you can start testing now. Learn more about the coming changes from Google and how you can start preparing for the future.

What exactly is a cookie?
Browser cookies are text files made up of bits of data and stored on each user’s web browser. They collect and store user information, like IP address and search history, in an effort to provide a more personalized user experience online.

The Future of Cookies
In response to growing public concerns regarding Internet privacy and security, Google announced its plans to phase out 3rd party cookie tracking on its Chrome browser which makes up close to 70% of the world’s Internet traffic. Other browsers, like Safari, have already made this move. Without 3rd party cookies, advertisers will have a more difficult time understanding user behavior and targeting potential customers online. To start preparing for this change, Google Analytics has rebuilt its program from the ground up with the new Google Analytics 4 (GA4).

What’s New with GA4?
GA4 is designed to work without cookies and relies on AI and data modeling to help fill in the gaps in data caused by privacy restrictions.

Key Updates

  • Updated user interface – reporting focuses on the lifecycle of a user
  • App + Web tracking all in one place
  • Cross device tracking, reduces double counting
  • Redefined Events, available out of the box and more widely used
  • Events are more flexible - can add up to 25 parameters to your events and name them whatever you’d like

Does my business need to change to the new GA4?
GA4 is the future of analytics. If you are new to Google, it is the default tracking option. If you’ve been using Universal Analytics, you can run the two systems side-by-side while you learn the differences. It is important to understand that GA4 will not receive historical data and tracking will start the day you install it.

As with any new tool, there is a learning curve. The early reviews on GA4 so far are mixed and Google recently extended its deadline for eliminating cookies from January 2022 into 2023. Take your time now and test it out before moving fully into the new system.

Our digital marketing team at Greenleaf Media is available to help guide you in this process. Contact the experts at Greenleaf Media today to get started.