Google's ending third-party cookies. Here's how it affects multifamily advertising.

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A significant change is coming to multifamily advertising as Google is sunsetting third-party cookies in Google Ads by 2025.

In this blog, we'll explain:

  • What are third-party cookies?
  • Why are third-party cookies going away?
  • The effect their removal will have on your apartment's digital ads

What are third-party cookies?

Cookies have existed since the invention of the Internet. They are hidden pieces of code embedded into websites that remember what pages you've visited, actions you've taken, forms you filled out, and much more. Cookies intend to provide a browsing experience that's as personal as possible, which is also why advertisers utilize them.

There are two types of cookies: first-party and third-party. 

First-party cookies are created by the host domain or the website you're currently visiting. They keep track of any action you've taken on that website, so if you return to it to complete an action or log in, it will remember who you are and what you've done. 

They also collect data about you that is relevant to the host domain's advertising. For example, if you were shopping for a pair of shoes on, the first-party cookie would remember what shoes you were looking at so that they are featured prominently when you return to the website. First-party cookies are meant to improve your overall experience.

Third-party cookies essentially carry out the same function of tracking your online behavior, except that they're not created by the host domain (hence their name, third-party).

Third-party cookies collect information about you that you may not know you're willfully giving away. Online advertisers use this data, such as your location, device, or likes and dislikes, to identify whether or not you meet the criteria of their specific target audience—regardless of your interest. 

There are many ways internet users willfully choose to give away information online, such as entering their payment and address information while making a purchase or signing up for a blog subscription. Unwillfully giving away data, as what happens to users with third-party cookies, is where things become problematic.

Why are third-party cookies going away?

It is an invasive practice when advertisers rely on third-party cookies to gather user information without consent. It has caused an uproar within the internet community for significant stakeholders such as Google to promote a safer web experience that protects user privacy.

Other major tech companies are undergoing similar initiatives to respect user privacy. Since its iOS 14 operating system update, Apple has begun letting its users opt out of any targeting or tracking associated with third-party cookies. They've also implemented a similar strategy with the Safari web browser. Mozilla has also joined the effort with its Firefox browser.

How will the removal of third-party cookies affect my apartment's Google Ads?

Apartment marketers will no longer be able to run remarketing campaigns via third-party cookies in Google Ads.

Remarketing campaigns in Google Ads rely on third-party cookies to track users' behavior across websites and display ads after visiting your website. The third-party cookies informed Google's Display Network to show a specific ad based on that previous online action toward that individual. 

Without remarketing, Google Ads will shift its focus to targeting renters actively searching for your apartments. 

Rather than targeting internet users who 'may' be interested in your apartments because they've taken an action like visiting your community website, Google will instead shift its focus to targeting an audience of users who are genuinely interested in leasing from you. How? 

Google will only target text and display ads to prospective residents who entered search terms containing the relevant or specific keywords you've bid on already. 

While those accustomed to remarketing campaigns will feel some change, Google Ads will continue to be an essential tool for multifamily marketers. They'll still deliver qualified website traffic by being more efficient at targeting ads to renters actively interested in your apartments (or one like yours).

While remarketing is no longer a campaign tactic in Google Ads, it can still be used on social media platforms like Facebook and Instagram.

Facebook can create a custom audience of in-platform users who have previously engaged with your brand. This means you can still help nurture prospects who engage with your community on social media and help them remember your apartments as they proceed in their search with ads targeting them throughout future uses of Facebook or Instagram. 

Only individuals who saw an ad for your apartment community on Facebook or Instagram and clicked on it to visit your website can continue to be remarketed within the social media platform. Users who visit your community's website from an ad on separate platforms (like Google) will not be able to be targeted with remarketing ads on Facebook or Instagram.

Key takeaways

  • Google is phasing out third-party cookies to enhance user privacy while still providing personalized advertising.
  • Removing third-party cookies means apartment marketers can't rely on Google Ads for remarketing campaigns, which traditionally depended on third-party cookies to track user behavior across websites. 
  • Despite losing remarketing capabilities, Google Ads will continue to help advertisers more effectively target prospective renters through keyword-based ads.
  • At the same time, platforms like Facebook and Instagram remain viable for remarketing through in-platform audience targeting.
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