For many years, so-called third-party cookies were considered the online marketing tool par excellence.
Data from the website visited is stored directly on the user's computer. The stored data packages make it possible to comprehensively analyse user behaviour. When the same page is visited again, individual and personalised information tailored to the user is displayed. Third-party cookies can include information about a user's general behaviour on the web and thus enable very specific and extremely effective targeting. However, this approach is no longer compliant with increasingly strict data protection regulations such as the European General Data Protection Regulation (GDPR). According to this regulation, the consent of the person concerned must be explicitly obtained for the processing of personal data. However, this is not always guaranteed in a legally secure manner when generating and processing cookie data with Google. Marketeers therefore need to rethink and find new ways to personalise their offering.
Many marketing managers fear that without third-party cookies, online marketing campaigns can no longer be effective because they now lack the possibilities of evaluation, performance measurement and retargeting. But...
... there are promising alternatives. They, however, require some creativity. The magic word is cookieless tracking. With data on user behaviour no longer being passed on to companies or advertisers, other methods must be used for personalised targeting.
Some providers rely on alternative unique identifiers such as hashed IDs. They analyse data about user behaviour anonymously, but still unambiguously. Hashed IDs track the user's surfing and click history with the help of IDs that are attached to the respective URLs. This creates a digital image of an individual person and their interests, to whom personalised advertising can be displayed. At the same time, this digital image cannot be linked to a real person and therefore privacy is preserved.
Another, technically oriented, cookieless tracking method is so-called fingerprinting.
Here, website visitors are identified very precisely via their browser settings, such as font size, screen sharpness or colour. However, there is a limitation in terms of accuracy: the fingerprints can be assigned to several users in a few cases. Still, this method is convincing due to its comparatively high accuracy.
Clean third party Audiences are another alternative that complies with data protection regulations.
Habits and preferences of users are not determined with cookies or the analysis of browser behaviour, but with voluntary, interactive actions such as quiz games or surveys. The participant consents to transmitting personal data that indicates his or her interests and thus enables effective targeting. This ensures that he provides all information consciously and voluntarily. At the same time, it offers a good opportunity to provide added value to users directly through valuable interactions. This also strengthens the relationship with users in the long term - for example, through recognition with positive connotations.
In addition, companies can use single sign-on platforms to track the behaviour of users in compliance with data protection regulations.
They register once and enter their data. This enables access to different online services and applications. The user consents to the use of his or her personal data and in return benefits from free content. At the same time, this platform can be a starting point for a community of like-minded people on a certain topic. This gives companies the opportunity to interact directly with (potential) customers who are already interested in a certain topic.
Tracking is not the ultimate way.
For end users who want security, transparency and privacy with regard to tracking, so-called 'Brave Browsers' offer another option. These browsers already block cookies in their factory settings. Users of these browsers can conscioulsy decide whether they want to agree to cookies in a fully transparent way. Alternatively, they accept not being shown personalised advertising. This middle ground strikes a compromise between guaranteed reach for advertisers and transparency and security around tracking for users.
The end of the cookie era does not mean - as predicted by some augurs - the end of online marketing. There are definitely alternatives, but they require a rethink and a focus on first-party data. However, customer trust always comes first. Building and sustainably securing this trust is the best guarantee for successful customer loyalty and good sales. With its many years of experience and expertise in online marketing, KPS can provide professional advice and develop promising strategies and measures for a personalised customer experience.