Automotive Marketing Strategies for the Cookieless Future

cars parked inside a car dealership.

Many automotive brands and dealers are learning this year that it’s time for new automotive media measurement solutions. In the face of imminent third-party cookie deprecation in 2025, marketing teams and their leadership have been left wondering what the future holds for their audience targeting and marketing ROI overall. 

But the automotive industry has fought uphill battles before in light of forced ingenuity. For both brands and dealers, this begs the opportunity to take advantage of changing conditions and adapt new infrastructure available to support your marketing efforts. 

Goodway is at the forefront of this shift. It’s time to bring this topic full-circle for the automotive industry and discuss our recommendations and solutions for the cookieless future. (Hint: it may have actually helped Tier 2 automotive advertisers for those that were ready.) 

Cookieless Considerations for Automotive Brands

Many automakers see the death of third-party cookies as an automotive sales flat tire — a setback after years of data-driven micro-targeting investments. But it’s vital to keep perspective. While marketers can no longer rely solely on cookie-based user data to drive website outcomes, opportunities exist to reset marketing performance expectations.

Benchmarks will need fine-tuning to accommodate new approaches that prioritize first-party data, focusing on customer engagement and relationships rather than just raw web analytics. Here are some examples to guide your automotive marketing strategy.

Reset Your Performance Benchmarks Toward Incrementality Models

The shift away from third-party cookies requires better use of incrementality models. Incrementality analyzes the individual impact of marketing efforts on business objectives like brand awareness, vehicle sales and cross-channel customer journeys. This helps marketers understand the entire attribution process and how customer engagement, vehicle model page views, and other website content consumption moves potential automotive buyers down the sales funnel.

Incrementality testing also helps in areas where automotive marketers might get stuck, like when measuring total sales lift from various platforms like Google or Meta. In these situations, measuring incrementality helps determine how overall sales are impacted by advertising holistically versus based on individual channels. 

Be Open to New Tactics for Audience Building and Segmentation

Automotive marketers must rebuild their ad targeting and measurement strategies from the ground up. Being open to new tactics — like contextual targeting, people-based marketing, clean room environments, decentralized authenticated solutions, and others — is key.

You can dive into these solutions here.

Cookieless Considerations for Tier 2 Automotive Advertisers

Tier 2 advertisers also face challenges with third-party cookie deprecation. Specifically, dealer groups must maintain their local and regional marketing efforts to keep and build competitive advantage. Let’s explore one innovative, tried-and-tested strategy the Goodway team has been leveraging to optimize our clients’ automotive marketing and digital media execution without third-party cookies.

Optimize Tier 2 Media Based on DMV Sales Information

Goodway employs a non-cookie-based solution for Tier 2 advertisers to help them move beyond measuring website actions and toward vehicle sales. We do this by working with dealer groups to optimize each digital media campaign to recorded DMV leases and sales. This increases the likelihood of driving additional consumers who will buy from these dealerships. 

We first tested the infrastructure validity of this strategy in 2022 with our own cost to ensure it was the right fit for our automotive clients. Prior to the 2022 test, the automotive industry faced setbacks with sales and lease data. It came in at intervals which were only helpful in measuring lift or “buy through rates.” But with sales now being attributed back to specific media and reports that come weekly, media optimization can be embraced and implemented, and measurement is streamlined.

With this strategy’s success, Goodway has the ability to trace sales tied to all properly tracked advertisements. This includes all sales or leases, not just the brand advertised.

So, what does this mean? While this is not a solution for individual dealers, and though Tier 1 and Zone traditionally use more upper-funnel approaches, Tier 2 is most often aligned to the financial elements of automotive advertising including incentives. Key performance indicators (KPIs) of hours, directions and vehicle view pages can change to vehicles sold for Tier 2. 

The traditional KPIs of national advertising are not rooted in measurement of dealer sales volume. After all, and Tesla aside, the OEM sale is to the dealer — not the consumer. 


While the cookieless future may seem daunting for automotive marketers, solutions exist to ease the industry into this new realm of audience targeting. Whether for brands or dealer groups, Goodway has the industry insights, tools, technology and expertise to guide you through these transitions. 

Reach out to our automotive marketing team for additional insights into how to position your automotive marketing strategy in the face of the upcoming third-party cookie deprecation.

Headshot of Rich Powell, Senior Vice President – National Multi-Location Sales, Goodway Group.

Rich Powell is the senior vice president – national multi-location sales at Goodway. He oversees the multi-location sector, where his responsibilities include the development and execution of a go-to-market strategy for revenue growth, sales development, marketing and profitability analysis.