A woman and her husband standing outside of a home viewed from the streetFor years, third-party cookies have been the bread and butter of online advertising. The practice allows you, the marketer, to target website visitors with laser precision based on their browsing history.

However, the winds of change are blowing through the digital landscape, and Google Chrome, the world’s dominant browser, is leading the charge toward a privacy-first future. Its plan? To phase out third-party cookies entirely by the end of 2024.

Note: As of October 2023, Google Chrome has the highest browser share in the United States at 51.94%. Safari at 29.29%, Edge at 8.67%, and Opera at 4.4%.

So, how exactly is Google accomplishing this cookie crackdown? So, Buckle up real estate marketers, because it’s about to get technical!

The Chrome Blockade

Anthony Chaves, who is the VP of Privacy Sandbox at Google, announced in his article titled “The next step toward phasing out third-party cookies in Chrome” that,

“… January 4, we’ll begin testing Tracking Protection, a new feature that limits cross-site tracking by restricting website access to third-party cookies by default. We’ll roll this out to 1% of Chrome users globally, a key milestone in our Privacy Sandbox initiative to phase out third-party cookies for everyone in the second half of 2024, subject to addressing any remaining competition concerns from the UK’s Competition and Markets Authority. “

Tracking Protection

Currently in its testing phase, this feature restricts third-party cookies by default for a small percentage of Chrome users. As the rollout expands, websites’ ability to track users across different domains will be severely limited. So, be aware your tracking reports will start

Privacy Sandbox

This umbrella term encompasses Google’s alternative solutions for targeted advertising and user measurement without relying on third-party cookies. These solutions are still under development by Google and the broader web community.

Some proposed technologies include:

  • Topics API – This assigns users broad interest categories like “sports” or “travel” based on their browsing activity, instead of specific website visits.
  • Federated Learning of Cohorts (FLoC) – Cohorts are groups of users with similar browsing habits, and ads are targeted to these groups without revealing individual data.
  • Trust Tokens – Websites issue encrypted tokens to users as proof of identity, reducing the need for third-party tracking.

Key Insights for Real Estate Marketers

The blocking of third-party cookies presents both challenges and opportunities for real estate marketing. Here are five crucial insights to navigate the changing landscape:

  • Embrace First-Party Data by cultivating a robust first-party data strategy through website analytics, CRM integrations, and loyalty programs. Leverage this data for personalized marketing campaigns and audience segmentation, all within the bounds of user privacy.
  • Contextual targeting takes center stage through continuous investment into contextual targeting platforms that rely on website content and user behavior signals rather than cookies. This allows you to deliver relevant ads based on the current browsing context. This would be like showcasing luxury listings on real estate search pages.
  • Build trust and direct relationships with potential buyers and sellers. Use email marketing, social media engagement, and targeted content marketing to curate leads and convert them into loyal clients.
  • With mobile dominating real estate searches, it’s crucial to optimize your website and marketing efforts for mobile-first. It’s surprising to see many people still focusing on desktop view when designing and messaging their advertising assets. Make sure you prioritize mobile to stay ahead in the game. Consider location-based targeting to reach users actively searching for properties in specific areas.
  • Experiment with Privacy Sandbox Solutions by staying informed about the evolving Privacy Sandbox initiatives and experimenting with the available APIs and tools. Early adoption can give you a head start in the new privacy-focused advertising landscape.

What are the key differences between third-party cookies and first-party cookies?

The key difference between third-party cookies and first-party cookies lies in who creates and uses them.

First-party cookies

  • Created by the website you’re visiting (the “first party”).
  • Stored on your device by the website’s domain.
  • Used by the website to remember your preferences, keep you logged in, track your activity on the site, and personalize your experience.
  • Generally considered less intrusive because they don’t share data with other websites.

Third-party cookies

  • Created by a domain other than the website you’re visiting (the “third party”).
  • Often placed on your device by embedded code from advertising or analytics companies.
  • Can follow you across different websites that use the same third-party code, building a detailed profile of your browsing habits.
  • Used for targeted advertising, retargeting, and cross-site analytics.
  • Raise more privacy concerns because they can track your activity across multiple domains without your explicit knowledge.


While Google’s third-party cookie phaseout may seem daunting, it also presents an opportunity for real estate marketers to refine their strategies and prioritize user privacy. Embrace first-party data, invest in contextual targeting, and build direct relationships to thrive in the privacy-first future. Remember, the focus is shifting from intrusive tracking to building trust and delivering value. Embrace this change, and unlock the potential of a more sustainable and ethical approach to real estate marketing.

This article is designed to be informative and actionable, but it’s important to stay updated on the latest developments in Google’s Privacy Sandbox and adapt your strategies accordingly. Don’t hesitate to seek further resources and guidance from qualified SEO and marketing professionals or contact David Gumpper of the WAV Group.