What Will Happen With Tracking and Targeting?

Once the cookie phase-out is complete, which is due by Q3 2024, advertisers will no longer be able to use cookies to target and retarget users based on their browsing history and interactions. This means a significantly reduced ability to craft strategies based on user data like likes and dislikes, patterns, behaviors, locations, etc. This data was used to make ad strategies more relevant, displaying ads to users who are actually likely to interact with them. If you’ve ever wondered how come you get so many ads for used cars and so few for luxury glamping vans (or vice versa, if you’re lucky), you now understand why.

Relying solely on first-party cookies is hardly a compensation for what advertisers and website owners running ads will lose with cookie deprecation. The scope of first-party cookies is rather limited, and they are not as reliable as third-party ones.

One of the possible solutions for the loss of cookie-based targeting abilities is zero-party targeting, which means collecting data directly from users, with their consent, through surveys, forms and loyalty programs.

Another significant aid may come in the form of good old contextual targeting. Once the premiere method, contextual advertising has since been discounted but now may be the right time to bring it back.

Contextual advertising, in short, means displaying ads that are relevant to the content of the page. These ads are significantly more relevant and, let’s be honest, less creepy than those served through behavioral targeting. People have various interests. You would probably feel more at ease if WordPress-related ads were displayed on WordPress-related blogs or marketplaces than on your favorite cooking blog, and vice versa. When you see an ad for something relevant for you but completely out of place context-wise, you start to feel like you’re being followed (which, to an extent, you are – through cookies).

There are many other things advertisers can do to bridge the gap that will open once the cookies are gone, but server-side tracking is probably one of the most efficient ones.

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