A cookie isn’t just a biscuit – it’s also a text file created by your browser for almost every website you visit, allowing that site to identify you and account for your preferences. While cookies can seem harmless when used just to save your settings on a website, third-party cookies are on the way out.
Those are the ones that allow the same advertising to follow users around the web – and Apple’s Safari browser has already banned those cookies. However, you can easily market without them.
Fill your biscuit tin with first-party cookies instead
For digital marketers, first-party cookies – those that, say, save data inputted in your website’s forms or save individual users’ language settings – are providing an increasingly satisfying crunch. That’s largely because consumers and lawmakers often see those cookies as less nefarious.
Besides, customers whose data you already own have actively engaged with your brand – and so, at least theoretically, are likely to be more receptive to your marketing messages.
Approach other companies to seek their first-party data
Much like a friend might be happy to give you one of their cookies of the biscuity variety because they “don’t like the ones with Smarties in”, so another platform or publisher that amasses its own first-party data through cookies might be happy to let you use it.
Of course, the analogy crumbles (ahem) when you consider that you would probably need to pay to use those cookies – but there are plenty of brands, like Facebook and Google, you could approach.
Use contextual advertising to meet potential customers where they are
Sometimes, cookies should just be avoided altogether – for example, if you are on a health kick and think they contain too much saturated fat. Oops, we’re supposed to be talking about digital cookies, aren’t we? Well, you can abandon them, too – by opting for contextual advertising.
This would involve you showing an ad where its subject is related to the content of the page itself. If, say, you sell iPhone cases, advertising those on a tech news site would make a lot of sense.
Use persistent IDs to target advertising at individual people rather than groups
Believe it or not, even without third-party cookies, it’s still possible for your advertising to follow individual users across various sites and even – unlike with those cookies – devices.
That’s because some firms, like Amazon and Facebook, allow “persistent IDs”, where the user can use their existing account on that site to log into various other sites. If you lack that login data yourself, you can – as previously mentioned – pay other companies to use the data they hold.
Strike a careful balance between personalisation and privacy
With legislation like the General Data Protection Regulation (GDPR) having enshrined privacy rights into law, you should be sensitive to your customers’ concerns about how their data is handled.