Visable 360
The B2B magazine for digital sales
Visable 360
The B2B magazine for digital sales

Retargeting without the use of cookies: how to do it right

Online marketing must have to find a way to do without cookies for their retargeting. And this by the end of 2023 at the latest, when Google stops providing this function. For this reason, alternatives are being sought after today. Discover four of them here.

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Cookies are at the end of their life

Cookies allow visitors of websites to be identified and their user behaviour in Internet to be followed. This makes these small text files a valuable instrument for online marketing when it comes to recognising existing and potential customers. Cookies are, for instance, important for retargeting, enabling companies to remind users of their products or services using ads, emails or other promotions.

 Because cookies collect personal data in part, they may only be utilised under very strict conditions. For instance, users have to agree to the use of the respective, non-functional cookies. This is stipulated by the ePrivacy Regulation on the EU level, as well as the German Telecommunications and Telemedia Data Protection Act (TTSDG) and the General Data Protection Regulation (GDPR).

 Because the topic of data protection is becoming ever-more important and complex, companies should say goodbye to cookies today and seek out alternatives. The goal is to have tracking that conforms to data protection laws and results in leads generation.

Specific user communication thanks to retargeting

The doing-away with cookies has a particular impact on retargeting. This marketing method namely allows for specific user communication. For example: the visitor of an online shop puts a product in their basket, but then leaves the page before closing the purchase. Thanks to cookie-based retargeting, the visitor can later receive a personalised message (e.g. email) to remind them of the outstanding order and therefore, ideally, animate them to become a conversion.

Common cases of retargeting:

  • Website retargeting: company A identifies, for instance, visitors to its website. When the same user goes to another website afterwards, that of company B, company A can present personalised ads to its former visitor thanks to the recognition of this user.
  • Email retargeting: this is based on email lists in which users have entered their name. When they visit a respective website, their actions there are registered. This information is then used to send single users automatic emails in line with their concrete behaviour.
  • Social media retargeting: this form of retargeting encompasses tailored ads which are displayed, for instance, on Facebook or Instagram.
  • Search engine retargeting: when users enter keywords into a search engine, it is possible to gain information about their interests. This can be achieved by displaying ads on Google, Bing or others which cater to this.

If and how online marketing can use these options without cookies is not yet completely clear. However, most likely personalised user communication will become even more difficult due to legal restrictions regarding the capture of data.

Google postpones the stop of cookies to the end of 2023

More often than not, companies have no other choice today but to avoid the use of cookies, at least in part. For instance, popular browsers such as Safari and Firefox already hinder advertisers from displaying personalised ads. For Google’s Chrome browser, the end of third-party cookies is near – even if it is a bit later than originally announced.

Putting an end to this form of user tracking was slated for late 2022, and this has now been postponed to the time between mid- and late 2023. However, this only represents a kind of grace period for advertisers who continue to use cookies.

Four retargeting options that do not use third-party cookies

1.  Person-based targeting: companies work based on data collected via the login IDs of their users. They have to voluntarily register by providing their personal information. And they will do this if they are particularly interested in offers or content. Major companies with a usually larger customer base have better chances here than small or mid-sized enterprises.

2.  Authentication cache: users receive a fictive name when they open a website. This means they can be recognised during their next visit. A disadvantage: if the user cleans their cache, they can no longer be recognised. They, too, must agree to this cookie-less tracking and may not use an ad blocker at the same time.

3.  Federated Learning of Cohorts (FLoC): Google is currently working on this variant of retargeting. The idea is to no longer communicate with the user as a single person, but rather as part of a group of people with common interests. To do this, FLoC collects anonymous information about the behaviour of a certain group of people. Personal data is not collected. The result is a so-called cohort ID.

4.  Turtledove: the function of Turtledove is very close to that of classic retargeting, as in connection with the Fledge extension, it displays ads to former visitors of a company’s own website when they are visiting other sites. But similar to FLoC, the communication is not based on individual behaviour, but on data from entire user groups.

Conclusion

Companies have to bid farewell to third-party cookies and their accustomed form of personalised advertising. The above-mentioned solutions serve as suitable alternatives. There may be additional alternatives when it comes to replacing questionable cookies regarding data protection. What these new options can achieve in practice for B2B marketing remains to be seen.

Until then, it makes sense to push forward with the topic of first-party cookies. In other words, as a company collecting and analysing information gained directly from your own customer base. One thing is clear: when Google stops the current practice is when marketers should have new solutions in place at the latest for targeting or other practices. The clock is ticking.

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