The entire cookie-based industry has been on a steep decline for some time now, and it looks like it’s finally time to say goodbye.
However, for digital marketers everywhere, this has led to a lot of confusion and anxiety when it comes to their website tracking capabilities. How will I track visitors? What will happen to my marketing attribution? Can I still do ad retargeting? What does this mean for my ABM strategy? If you’ve asked yourself any questions like these recently, you’ve come to the right place.
What is a Cookie?
Before we get into the death of the cookie, we should talk about what a cookie actually is. At a basic level, a cookie is a small text file placed by a website on your computer when you visit. This file stores information about your activity on the site, such as page views, login credentials, and purchases, as well as any additional information you voluntarily give the website like your email or postal address. This information allows websites to deliver tailored content to their visitors, remember login credentials, set language preferences and a wide range of other functions that generally enhance the overall user experience.
However, not all cookies are the same and an important distinction should be made here.
First-party cookies are placed on your computer by the website itself for the purpose of providing enhanced user experience (as I described above). These cookies are generally considered “helpful” and as such are currently not under threat of disappearing any time soon.
But another type of cookie exists that sometimes blurs the line between helpful and invasive – third-party cookies. A third-party cookie is essentially the same as a first-party cookie in that it is a text file used to store information. However, these cookies are placed on your computer by advertisers and are used to track your browsing history from one site to the next with the end goal of finding out what your interests are and using this information to serve you targeted ads. I’m sure many of us have noticed if you visit websites with a similar theme (surfing for example) you’ll tend to see a higher percentage of surfing-related ads. While this practice might seem commonplace today, many people find the use of their personal data for advertising to be an invasion of their privacy.
The State of Cookies Today
As you probably guessed from the title, third-party cookies have been slowly dying for years. Recent legislation, such as the General Data Protection Regulation (GDPR), requires websites that collect personal data to disclose to visitors how and why they are using their data – allowing them to opt-out of all non-essential cookies (i.e. the ones marketers use). This has resulted in the rise of many people opting out of cookies, which has caused a dramatic decrease in the amount of information available through third-party cookies in general.
Furthermore, the California Consumer Privacy Act (CCPA), which will go into effect in January, 2020, will provide Californians with greater control over how their personal data is collected, handled, and sold by organizations.
And it’s not just the people and the government that are fed up with cookies. On the technology side, for the past few years, various browser providers (Safari, Firefox, etc.) have released updates to their services that have drastically reduced the effectiveness of third-party cookies, and more recently, have blocked them all together. But these two browsers only make up about 20% of all internet traffic. The biggest hit to the cookie industry came recently when Google announced it would start testing a third-party cookie blocking feature in its Chrome browser. Why is this important? Because Chrome represents around 70% of all internet users globally. One by one the companies that provide the means for everyday people to access the internet are making it nearly impossible for third-party cookies to be used.
But there’s a bigger picture here: All of these updates to legislation and browsers underscore the growing societal sentiment and trend toward increasing personal privacy and making it impossible for marketers to use third-party cookies to track consumers.
What Can We Do About It?
If you’re reading this and a sense of panic has gripped you, I’ve got some good news and some bad news. The bad news is that for B2C marketers that rely on personal data to power their marketing strategies, we really don’t have an answer yet. It’s pretty much that simple. We don’t yet know of any alternative to cookies when it comes to tracking unique individuals or gathering personal data from website visitors.
However, if you’re a B2B marketer, you can breathe easy knowing that even though third-party cookies are on their deathbed, an alternative exists that can provide the crucial information you need for all the account-based marketing activities your team is doing.
What is this solution? IP address intelligence.
IP address intelligence is the process of translating a company’s IP address into a set of traits about that company, called firmographics. These traits can include things such as company name, employee count, revenue, industry, geolocation, and more. Firmographics are the crucial pieces of information B2B marketers rely on to drive account-based marketing and deliver enhanced user experience on their websites.
What makes KickFire’s IP address intelligence unique is that because it is focused solely on businesses and not personal data or individuals, which makes it the ideal choice in a MarTech landscape that is becoming more and more hostile towards third-party cookies. In addition, because business IP addresses are typically static (i.e. less likely to change), the data collected based on a business IP address is not only more in-depth but is more reliable and less likely to become stale or outdated.
The beauty of IP address intelligence is that this technology is browser-independent. Why? Because an IP address is associated with the device itself, not the browser. Meaning the dominance browser providers have over cookies, does not, and cannot ever apply to IP addresses. Regardless of the decisions the browser providers make, IP address intelligence will always be able to deliver the vital data marketers need to power their ABM programs.
Over the years, we’ve witnessed the marketing landscape drastically change, but in our eyes, one thing has remained the same: IP address intelligence is and always will be the way forward for marketers. IP address intelligence is finally taking its place as the leading first-party intent tracking technology for businesses. As we move toward a world of heightened individual consumer privacy and constantly changing browser restrictions, cookies will soon breathe their last breath, and IP address intelligence will be there to ensure B2B marketers continue to get the data they need.
If you want to learn more about KickFire’s technology and how it fits into your digital marketing strategy, check out our TWIN Caching Guide.