have been around for a while, but in the last few years they
have become the internet marketer’s most valuable tool.
retarget, or follow, past visitors to their websites by placing
ads on other websites they visit. This helps to deter losing
potential customers, who may otherwise visit once and never come
However, web users haven’t been so enamored of cookies; in fact,
many big-name developers are considering doing away with them.
When something fades away, it tends to cause some collateral
damage. Some are wondering whether the dying cookie will take
retargeting strategies with it. For the time being, those
concerns are unfounded. Here’s why.
New Technologies Are Emerging
Many companies are touting their ability to offer cookieless
tracking, but they’re not creating a bad perception of cookies –
rather, they’re responding to it. The FTC has convinced browsers
to allow users to block tracking cookies because of consumer
concerns about privacy. This has forced advertisers to think of
other ways to target potential audiences. Time will tell who
wins that war, but plenty of players are competing – including
the browsers themselves.
These Technologies Might Be Better
If you think the end of cookies is the end of retargeting, think
again. According to the Wall Street Journal, giants like
Microsoft and Apple have talked about assigning unique IDs that
follow users across all devices and collect data that marketers
can use for retargeting. These IDs could follow consumers
wherever they go, even to mobile devices; however, opt-in
features would allow them to decline to participate.
Retargeting Is Nothing New
While retargeting feels like a major invasion of privacy, or
even stalking, it’s actually a new version of an old marketing
tactic. In the days of snail mail, list brokers could earn
thousands of dollars selling lists of magazine subscribers,
recent college graduates or new homeowners. Pursuing prospects
based on past behavior has long been a staple of marketing.
There’s no reason to think it’ll end just because it happens
Ultimately, Retargeting Works
Of course, the debate over retargeting would be moot if it
didn’t work. One survey showed that among consumers who
abandoned their shopping carts, retargeting had a 45% success
rate and the second-highest return on investment of all tactics
— only targeted cart abandonment email campaigns performed
better. And this number comes despite concerns about privacy.
With this kind of success rate, it’s hard to believe marketers
will stop retargeting simply because its most commonly-used
identification tool is on the decline.
Cookies assist in frequent retargeting, but don’t think one
can’t exist without the other. Retargeting is good for business,
and new technologies are emerging that will make retargeting
even easier. Expect it to stick around in one form or another.
Adrienne Erin is a freelance writer and online PR specialist for
You can see more of her work by following her on
Twitter at @adrienneerin, or reading her personal blog,
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