How Will Retargeting Work Without Cookies?

Have you ever wondered how those ads seem to follow you around the internet, even after you’ve left a website? Retargeting has become an integral part of digital advertising, but with the phasing out of third-party cookies, many are wondering what this means for its future. Fear not! In this blog post, we’ll explore how retargeting will continue to thrive without relying on cookies and what it means for advertisers and consumers alike. So grab a cup of coffee and read on to discover the exciting developments in retargeting technology.

Retargeting, also known as remarketing, is a powerful advertising tool that allows businesses to show ads to people who have already visited their website or used their app. Retargeting ads are personalised and more effective than general display ads, making them a key part of any digital marketing strategy.

When a business retargets someone, they use cookies placed on the individual’s browser when they visit the site or use the app. This information is then used to show that person relevant ads when they visit other websites or use other apps.

However, new privacy laws like the GDPR and CCPA are coming into effect that will limit the use of cookies. This means that businesses must find new ways to retarget people without using cookies.

There are a few different methods that businesses can use to retarget people without cookies:

1. Device IDs:

Every device connected to the internet has a unique ID number. This ID can be used for retargeting purposes in the same way that cookies are currently used.

2. Email addresses:

If someone provides their email address to a business, they can be retargeted with ads through email marketing campaigns.

3. IP addresses:

When someone visits a website, their IP address is logged by the website’s server. This information can be used to target ads to specific IP addresses.

What is Cookie Retargeting?

Cookie retargeting is a process by which ads are served to web users based on their previous actions. Cookies are used to track user behavior, which is then used to serve targeted ads. Advertising platforms and networks often use the process of cookie retargeting to improve the effectiveness of their campaigns.

Without cookies, it would be significantly more difficult for advertising platforms to target ads effectively. Without cookies, advertisers would have a harder time targeting ads to users who have previously shown an interest in their products or services. This would ultimately lead to less effective advertising campaigns and could result in lower ROI for advertisers.

Reasons for the End of Cookies

The answer is simple: retargeting without cookies will not work. Here’s why:

  1. Cookies are the only way to track users across different devices.
  2. Without cookies, there would be no way to know which ads a user has seen or clicked on.
  3. Without cookies, it would be impossible to target ads to specific users based on their interests and browsing history.
  4. Cookies are essential for frequency capping, which limits the number of times a user sees an ad.
  5. Finally, cookies are necessary for retargeting because they allow advertisers to reach users who have already shown interest in their product or service.

What is Cookieless Retargeting?

In the wake of the GDPR and other global privacy regulations, many companies are looking for ways to retarget their audiences without cookies.

Cookieless retargeting is a targeted advertising method that does not rely on cookies to track user behavior. Instead, it uses alternative tracking methods such as fingerprinting or first-party data.

Device fingerprinting is a technique that uses information about a user’s device, such as browser type and version, operating system, screen resolution, and fonts installed, to create a unique identifier. This identifier can then track the user across different devices and platforms.

First-party data is collected by a company directly from its customers, either through online interactions or offline transactions. This data can be used to target ads to specific segments of users without relying on cookies.

Cookieless retargeting has several benefits over traditional cookie-based retargeting. First, it is more privacy-friendly since it does not require storing Personal Data in cookies. Second, it is more resilient to ad blockers since it does not rely on cookies to track user behavior. Finally, it allows advertisers to target ads to users across different devices and platforms.

Alternatives to Cookie Retargeting

There are a few ways to target ads without cookies, but they’re less effective than retargeting with cookies. One way is to target ads based on IP addresses. This is not as accurate as cookies because people can share IP addresses, and it’s easy to spoof an IP address.

Another way is to use browser fingerprinting, which tracks the unique combination of settings and plugins a person has on their browser. This is more accurate than IP targeting but still not as good as cookies because it can be easily changed.

The last way to target ads without cookies is by using first-party data, which is data that a company collects about its own customers such as email and phone numbers. Here advertisers can target people using email and phone numbers. This is the most accurate way to target ads without cookies, but it requires a lot of data, and it’s only available to companies with their own customer data.

So while there are some ways to target ads without cookies, they’re not as effective as retargeting with cookies. If you want the best results, you should continue to use cookie-based retargeting.

How will New Technologies Impact Retargeting?

It’s no secret that cookies are on the way out. Most browsers are already phasing out support for third-party cookies. So, how will retargeting work without cookies?

There are a few different ways that retargeting can be adapted to work without cookies.

Browser Fingerprinting

One is through browser fingerprinting, which uses information about a user’s browser and device to create a unique identifier. This identifier can then be used for retargeting purposes.

First-party Data

Another way to do cookie-less retargeting is through the use of first-party data. This data is collected by the website itself, through things like sign-up forms and login information. This data can then be used to target ads to users even if they don’t have cookies enabled.

Finally, there are a few new technologies that are being developed that could potentially be used for retargeting purposes. These include things like blockchain and eye-tracking. It’s still early days for these technologies, but they hold promise for the future of cookie-less retargeting.

Tips for Optimizing Retargeting Strategies Without Cookies

There is no one-size-fits-all answer to this question, as the optimal strategy for retargeting without cookies will vary depending on the specific situation and goals.

However, some general tips can help to optimize your strategies in this situation:

1. Use first-party data:

First-party data is data that is collected directly from your own website or app. This can be extremely valuable for retargeting without cookies, as it allows you to create targeted audiences based on specific actions that they have taken on your site or app.

2. Implement server-side tracking:

Server-side tracking refers to tracking users’ behavior on your website or app via your own servers rather than relying on third-party cookies. This can be a more reliable method of tracking user behavior and can also be used to collect first-party data (as mentioned above).

3. Use other forms of targeting:

In addition to traditional retargeting methods, other targeting options can be used without cookies. For example, IP address targeting allows you to target ads based on a user’s IP address, which can be helpful if you have a database of known customers’ IP addresses. Similarly, email list targeting allows you to target ads specifically to people who have signed up for your email list – again, providing you with a database of known individuals to target.


Without cookies, retargeting lacks the convenience and accuracy that has made it such a powerful tool for online marketers. While alternative solutions are being explored, such as using device IDs or leveraging predictive analytics, each of these methods comes with its own challenges and drawbacks. For now, savvy online businesses must review their retargeting strategy carefully to ensure they can maintain an effective marketing presence without relying on cookie-based technologies.

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