Are Website Cookies Still Useful?

You know what website cookies are. Sometimes referred to as HTTP cookies, they are little bits of code that a website adds to your computer search engine to keep track of you, the visitor. According to Neil Patel, “Cookie-based advertising relies on stored information that bounces between a user’s computer and a server.” Cookies for websites have been a mainstay in marketing for years, enabling companies to serve up ads and content to previous visitors based on browsing behavior. Changing privacy laws such as Europe’s GDPR have made cookie alerts a requirement to allow visitors to opt in before a cookie can be placed on their browser. Some people find this annoying. Regardless of how you feel about web cookies, it’s important to ask, are they still useful to marketers in the age of mobile, portable devices?

Ways That Web Cookies Are Not Useful For Marketers

There are various kinds of cookies that target website browsing behavior, sessions, ad clicks, and others called authentication cookies that just verify if the user is logged in. But some of the same short-fallings exist for all.

Cookies can’t deliver accurate holistic data. Throughout the average person’s day, they might use a computer, a laptop, a mobile phone and a tablet. And the family tablet may have several users, not just one. It would be virtually impossible for a marketer to serve up the right advertising tactics in this scenario based on cookie data. Cookies have power in tracking behavior on one device; they can’t track across multiple devices.

The majority of mobile devices and apps don’t use cookies, making continuity is a problem. Since most mobile doesn’t allow for cookies, you could be wasting a lot of your ad spend serving up the wrong ads to the wrong people at the wrong stage in their buyer journey. They may have started the journey on their laptop, then continued later on their phone, perhaps even bookmarking an item, but the cookie stored on the laptop would still remember their first interaction.

Cookies expire over time. Most cookies expire after a month or two, and then disappear, requiring users to opt-in again when they return to a site after a prolonged period. As well, many users frequently clear their browsing history, and their cookies with it.

Cookies are impersonal identifiers. This works well for basic sales conversions. You browse a site, you leave, then later get served an ad for the site, making you more likely to get to the next stage and toward a sale. But many transactions are not simple purchasing cart conversions, and B-to-B business leads, especially, can require more complex and in-depth interaction toward conversion.

Finally, cookies can never really get you information on your actual audience, only a reflection of them based on behavior. To find out who they really are, new personalized marketing strategies try to collect and measure efforts against concrete email addresses. Personalized marketing tracks the individual with a specific identifier, usually an email, across various devices and browsers. It requires use of sophisticated marketing automation tools to do it well. It also takes time slicing and dicing your messages and lists. Some companies simply do not have the time to be too personal.

As well, missing between cookies and this level of personalization is a whole slew of marketing tactics, including branding, content marketing, and paid advertising, which lead visitors through a user journey to ultimately give you their email address.

Rest Easy, Web Cookies Still Hold Value For Marketers

Despite those who say that HTTP cookies are becoming irrelevant, cookies are still highly useful and essential for marketers.

For one, cookies can keep track of language preferences so that when a person returns to a website again, they will automatically be served up content in their language. This is nice perk for marketers trying to reach a global audience.website_cookies_provide-insight

For another, Google Analytics and Google AdWords rely on cookies to help provide the deep level insights they are known for. The dynamic retargeting features of Google Ads use cookies to serve up ads based on previous user searches. Google collects IDs and parameters that can track users across different sites.

Although they assign arbitrary data to visitors, web cookie data is essential for web commerce because without it, every time you went to a website it would be new and untraceable. Advertisers would not have a leg to stand on and might serve you ads for beach umbrellas or arthritis medicine randomly, whether you had an interest in those items or not.

But e-commerce aside, web cookies are important to from an experiential perspective, such as researchers trying to relocate key sources, or patients trying to find disease or clinical trial information. And website cookies are especially key to B-to-B commerce, where a visitor repeatedly ordering a particular assay or device can quickly get to that page when the URL pre-populates familiar text in the browser. Expediency is good for most businesses because as we all know, time is money.

Web cookies can also benefit businesses by giving them insight into what areas of their business, via web pages, are popular and keep people coming to their site. This benefits visitors by enabling businesses to give them more of the content they want, and less of the content they don’t.

Overall, personalized advertising methods are more accurate in targeting the exact individuals you want in a campaign, but they require intermediary tactics to push users across various points of engagement. For basic browsing history data tracking, cookies for websites remain relevant in online advertising strategies.

We can advise you on the best strategy to use to target your customers. Let us know if we can help.