How to Win at Paid Social Without Cookies

August 18, 2022

But while the removal of support for third-party cookies is considered a dream scenario for social media users who value their privacy, it’s also a nightmare for marketers who rely heavily on cookies in their paid social media strategies

So what are the true implications of cookieless marketing? Well, the truth is that the cookie’s demise certainly is not the end of tracking technology. Social marketers who use paid cookies can still use other existing tracking technologies—you just need to rethink your game plan and make some changes.

The balance of power between cookies and ads is drastically shifting. But don’t worry—we’ve got the know-how to make the most of new opportunities.


What Does Cookieless Paid Social Look Like for Marketers?

So what can and should you be doing to make the most of cookieless paid social media? How do you emerge from this shift triumphantly? 

Paid social is clearly something that businesses should consider investing in. Social media is a fast-growing advertising channel—in fact, it’s now overtaken paid search, growing 25% YoY

Cookies have been an integral part of how, when, and where paid social marketers target specific individuals, but fear not—you can overcome losing the power of third-party cookies. You can still make your paid social plans work using alternative (and just as effective) approaches.

So what are these approaches? How do you prepare for the end of third-party cookies?


How Can You Still Use Cookieless Paid Social Media?

Google plans to have third-party cookies totally unsupported by late 2022; so as of now, you still have a little bit of time to soak up the last of the data from third-party cookies. Better still, you also have time to test out new paid social media strategies. Here are eight tips on the best alternatives to external cookies marketing. 


#1 Make the Most of First-Party Data

Have you started gathering your first-party data yet? Research conducted by Google revealed that 92% of leading marketers believe using first-party data is critical to growth, as it helps you build a better understanding of what people want (and don’t want).

Plus, not only is collecting first-party data an ethical way of getting to know your customers, it’s also more accurate. You have complete control over where it’s sourced from, so you know it’s 100% true. 

First-party data can easily replace most third-party data. It just relies on you being a little more proactive.

So how/where can you gain first-party data?

  • Build a mail list (direct or email).
  • Set up registration or sign-up forms.
  • Interact with members of your social media groups.
  • Directly message contacts, clients, or customers who follow you.
  • Set up polls and surveys with detailed response forms.


#2 Target the Right Audience by Demographics

Retargeting without cookies isn’t as hard as you think. From factors like age, gender, and location, you can build audience profiles to help identify who is most likely to respond to your paid social media ads.

Best of all, demographics-based targeting is easy on Facebook, Instagram, and TikTok. These platforms offer tools that give you access to user demographics to target specific audiences directly.


#3 Target the Right Audience by Interests

Retargeting without cookies is made easy by getting to know your customers’ interests. What do they like/dislike? What blogs do they read? What page categories do they follow? After all, how can you be sure an individual is even worth targeting?

Facebook is the best social media platform for interest-based targeting using data surrounding the specific actions of Facebook users. For example, what pages do they follow? What sites do they click on? What videos do they comment on? 


#4 Target the Right Audience by Location

Location-based targeting is another useful tool, whether you’re a local business wanting to attract nearby customers or a nationwide business wanting to boost customers for one specific franchise.

Social media sites have various options for targeting users by locale. You can target customers:

  • Living in a location based on what is listed as the profile’s current city/town (Facebook also double-checks this using IP addresses).
  • Recently in a location based on mobile tracking.
  • Traveling to a location based on who is away from their home.

Just be cautious of where you obtain location-based data. Retargeting without cookies relies on careful planning and fastidious research. A study conducted by Location Services found that 65% of location-based advertising is wasted because of poor or misdirected targeting.


#5 Look at UTM Parameters

Want to know which sites or social platforms visitors used to get to your page? UTM parameters can help you understand where online traffic is traveling to and from. 

But what are UTM parameters? Well, you see them pretty much every day. They’re parts of the URL code that are usually added at the very end. They tell you how the visitor got to your page (i.e., via a Facebook link or a TikTok comment). 

UTM parameters aren’t a new type of code, but it’s becoming increasingly useful to track them. They teach you how visitors interact with your brand and where it might be best to target more users in the future. 


#6 Rethink Your Social KPIs

The success of your paid social plan depends on how you measure its performance. So with the relationship between cookies and ads changing, perhaps it’s time you rethink your KPIs.

You might want to spend less time looking out for clicks and conversions and more time looking at cost per acquisition—this KPI measures how profitable your plans are. Ultimately, if your paid ads aren’t gaining you customers, they’re only costing you money.


#7 Spend More on Market Research

First-party data gathering and market research go hand in hand. You need to know the ins and outs of your audience to create social ads that spark curiosity and meet their needs.

If you have the time, funds, and resources, don’t look for data externally—instead, drive research from within. For example, you can:

  • Collect feedback from your audience with polls, surveys, etc.
  • Hold focus groups with in-depth questions.
  • Watch how the audience already interacts with your business.


#8 Personalize Your Cookies Marketing

Customers are more inclined to invest in a brand’s ad that offers a more personalized experience. In fact, 77% of consumers say they’re willing to pay more for a brand that provides a customized experience. Clearly, personalization is a profit-making tool, not just a gesture or gimmick.

Once you have your first-party data, try personalizing your paid social media ads using information you know about your audience. Then, provide them with a solution to one of their problems. After all, the best way to fully convert a customer is to address their pain point.

Even if you don’t have access to this kind of data, simply addressing the customer with their name can help build a deeper connection with the individual. The little details do make a difference.



Life will still be there after cookies go away. Cookies and ads will always work closely with one other, just in different ways as the landscape of paid social media changes. Just make sure you pivot your cookies marketing strategy. These tips will give you a good start.


Get in Touch with TPT Digital

Our digital content creation teams use data insights to inform our global content strategies and continually measure and optimize to maximize results—allowing you to strategize globally without sacrificing local performance.

Please get in touch if you’d like to discuss how TPT Digital can support your paid social media content. We’re happy to give you a free quote.



TPT Digital Team