Law Firm Marketing Effects When Third-Party Cookies Go Away

Marketing companies have been using cookies for years to track website visitors, collect data on visitors, and improve the overall experience of using the Internet by allowing targeted ads to hit the right audiences. However, the way companies such as law firms use cookies will change based on Google’s new efforts to phase out third-party cookie usage on Chrome browsers by 2022.

Google announced this phase-out plan in February 2020. However, the company recently made another statement in March 2021 regarding the third-party cookie phase-out: Google will not be building “alternate identifiers to track individuals as they browse across the web, nor will [they] use them in [their] products.”

Firefox and Safari have already gotten rid of third-party cookies, so it is not a surprise that Google Chrome is following suit. The Google cookies news may cause law firms whose digital marketing depends on third-party cookies to seek alternative methods. We will describe some of those alternative methods and how you can continue to have an effective marketing strategy even with cookies going away.

What are Third-Party Cookies?

Google defines third-party cookies as cookies created by other sites, different from the one you are visiting. Google explains that these websites that create third-party cookies may own some of the content, such as ads or images, that a visitor views on the website they are browsing.

Digital marketers use third-party cookies to track and follow consumers online. It is stored under a different domain name than the domain that the visitor is visiting. The cookies track visitors between websites to display more relevant ads when transitioning amongst those websites. Another indirect cookie example is the support chat function that a third-party service may provide.

A relevant example is when someone is searching for a specific type of lawyer, such as a bankruptcy attorney , and visits a few sites. However, if that visitor then searches for other non-legal related services and receives an advertisement about legal services on those sites, that is due to third-party cookies. Other third-party cookie examples include ad servers and Facebook pixels.

Does Third-Party Cookie Deprecation Affect the Legal Industry?

Yes! These changes will affect all industries. Since Google announced the third-party cookie phase-out, marketers everywhere have raised concerns. The announced changes were mainly in response to those concerned about privacy issues with third-party cookies. Since the passage of the GDPR and the California Consumer Privacy Act (CCPA ), legislatures and consumers have been strongly advocating for more rights and protections for our information. The GDPR instituted privacy regulations that govern the way consumers’ information is collected in Europe. Inspired by the GDPR, the CCPA established California privacy restrictions on what information companies can collect from consumers and consumer rights concerning their information. Users demand greater transparency, choice, and control on how their data is used. Therefore, Google is now recognizing that the internet and web ecosystem must adapt to respect data rights and consumer demands.

The third-party cookie deprecation may majorly affect these areas for law firms and legal professionals:

Legal Cases Surrounding Privacy

Are third-party cookies dangerous? Well, consumers have already filed lawsuits against ad tech companies for GDPR violations. Specifically, consumers formed a class action-style litigation against data broker giants Oracle and Salesforce in the UK and the Netherlands in August 2020. The suits argue that using mass surveillance of online consumers to carry out the companies’ practices of bidding ad auctions is not compliant with strict EU laws. The litigation focuses on EU citizens’ rights to have informed, specific, and freely given consent on their data being used, as well as the right to receive a copy of their personal information. They argue that these companies are not following these laws when they use third-party tracking cookies, such as BlueKai and Krux.

There may also be additional class action lawsuits filed as more state and federal legislatures pass ePrivacy and privacy-first laws in the coming years. Proctor and Gamble’s Chief Brand Officer , Marc Pritchard, states, “We all have the responsibility to ensure we protect whatever data we have and use it for purposes of serving consumers with better media and advertising experiences. The problem is there are 27 different laws for handling consumer data in the United States alone.”

The people writing these laws often include dense “legalese” that makes it difficult to understand for the everyday consumer and even harder for companies without dedicated legal representation to understand. It is crucial to have a team focused on helping your company ensure that it complies with all of the privacy regulations that exist. This understanding is vital not just in the state where the company is domiciled, but also wherever the company conducts business and where consumers are located.

Digital Marketing for Law Firms

Law firm digital marketing will be different, as law firms will not be able to retarget users to the extent they could previously. The third-party cookie removal will affect advertising for law firms in the following ways:

  • Diminished retargeting: Retargeting is a common form of online targeted advertising that often uses third-party cookies to track and advertise to consumers based on previous Internet behavior.
  • Frequency capping: This is an advertising feature that restricts the number oftimes a specific visitor is shown a particular advertisement. The ad platform usually will drop a third-party cookie on the user’s browser once the impression was served to effectuate this feature. This will likely be more difficult to complete after the ban of third-party cookies.
  • Ability to use third-party ad tech: Third party ad technology refers to the services that law firms often utilize to expand their marketing reach. These ad networks track users across the web and profile them for more precise targeting.

While the third-party cookie phase-out will change how law firms use digital marketing, experts do not expect a decline in advertising investments but rather a reallocation or shift in how firms will spend money on digital marketing and advertising.

5 Best Practices for Law Firms in a Cookieless World

Law firms can still maximize digital marketing to expand their reach and clientele. The key is to utilize programmatic advertising and other methods that do not require using third-party cookies. Some of these best practices include:

  1. Grow Your First-Party Audiences. A crucial element for any law firm is the growth of your audience. The best ways to achieve this are by encouraging subscribers, creating email opt-ins, and including questions regarding how the lead was generated in your client onboarding process. By creating an email newsletter, you can keep general consumers up-to-date with firm and legal developments in specific industries and create something interesting to draw in potential clients. By tracking and evaluating how you are generating leads, you can focus on what is working and reduce spending on what is not working.
  2. Implement Call and Lead Tracking. Lead tracking can help measure the success of your marketing efforts. The process involves documenting and categorizing prospective customers based on specific actions that each visitor takes or the sales rep touches. This data allows companies to analyze the likelihood of closing on a potential customer. Call tracking involves recording information about incoming phone calls and, if allowed, recording the conversation itself. Phone management services and call tracking companies can also help you choose the most memorable number for your law firm. By having these unique numbers attached to offline and online advertising, call and lead tracking companies can track campaign performance on a granular level—from the station, daypart, and day of the week where the all originated.
  3. Optimize Current Advertising Efforts. In general, Google and Facebook ad experiences will remain relatively stable for law firms, except for retargeting. Important to note, though, that only 35.5% of users say they like retargeted ads anyway. Given this fact, law firms should evaluate what is and is not effective in their current advertising efforts and make those processes run more efficiently. Law firms should focus on improving their organic traffic, optimizing pay-per-click keyword targeting on Google Ads, expanding programmatic advertising, and continued marketing strategy.
  4. Get Creative with Your Audience Targeting. An essential step of any strategy is to first determine the ideal customer profile. Data analysis can help to pinpoint and assess geo-location-based advertising versus behavioral targeting. With MotionMetrics , heat mapping can be used to inform marketing efforts. MotionMetrics combines proprietary data about individual markets’ traffic, accident, and demographic patterns to identify and create strategic targeting for advertising opportunities. Defining your target demographic and geographic region, while also incorporating historical data collected from thousands of previous campaigns, can help ensure that you target the right people. One critical point that all law firms should note is that consumers’ behavior has drastically changed during the COVID-19 pandemic. This means that digital marketing strategies should adapt, as well.
  5. Invest in Intelligent Advertising. Intelligent advertising is the practice of looking at a set of data and being able to analyze the comprehensive marketing data at hand. CAMG utilizes its Legal Marketing Index® (LMI®) to systematically map, measure, and analyze pertinent media spending data for a law firm’s use in segmentation, targeting, and measurement. This unprecedented tool provides the legal industry with unparalleled reporting and analysis of marketing data. For example, CAMG’s monthly Mass Tort LMI provides law firms with relevant, timely data, as well as the team’s analysis to support a mass tort campaign. This form of intelligent advertising can provide an overview of the media landscape, which can be used for a comparative analysis of Designated Market Areas (DMAs), as well as specific mass torts. The data also includes an overview of each month’s spending decreases and increases per tort, in addition to the conversion rate of calls to qualified leads by practice area.

Though the planned removal of third-party cookies may have initially caused concern for law firms and law firm marketers, this phase-out does open the door for innovation in advertising. With privacy laws continuing to develop, it is an ideal opportunity to utilize less vulnerable advertising techniques and alternatives to avoid further adjustment obligations as more laws arise.

Law firms should never be too reliant on one specific technology. They should always be prepared with innovative alternatives to ensure that their firms can leverage the data they have to create new opportunities.

Consumer Attorney Marketing Group’s Cookie Policy

CAMG prioritizes its privacy commitment to ensure that all website visitors and clients are compliant with all privacy laws. CAMG’s privacy policy lays out:

  • Which information CAMG collects, whether it is from the information the visitor provides or what CAMG automatically collects
  • How CAMG uses personal information
  • How CAMG may share personal information
  • Visitors’ choices concerning CAMG’s use of information
  • How CAMG secures personal information
  • California Privacy Practices and California Rights

Every campaign that CAMG delivers is ethically sound, sustainable, and compliant with all privacy laws. As industry specialists, we understand which marketing strategies work, how to analyze and utilize the data we gather, and how to eliminate what is not working.

CAMG’s experience working with law firms in digital, television, print, and radio enables us to be an expert in advertising techniques that do not require third-party cookie usage. We are an effective, data-driven marketing company designed exclusively for law firms and are committed to bringing the legal industry relevant, timely information to support legal marketing.

If your law firm is ready to utilize digital tools and ads to complement your firm’s current advertising campaigns, contact us now to learn how we can help you.

Are you looking for data-driven marketing for your law firm?

As a full-service agency, CAMG handles everything from marketing and creative to the support your law firm needs to operate campaigns at the maximum efficiency.


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