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Beyond cookies, the future of data collection

Lamia Bakhalek
Written by Lamia Bakhalek

Data is the core of digital business. Marketers’ challenge is to turn a huge amount of figures into actionable data in order to increase performance and ROI. With the right tools, they can better understand their customers and improve user experience. That’s why we speak so much of “Big Data”. But how is it working exactly? 

 

How is data collected online?

Basically, data are collected thanks to cookies. Cookies are in fact little files that are stored on your browser. These precious files provide very useful information about the user such as: his browser, IP address – and so his geolocation, clickstream data, behavior on a website, etc. For instance, thanks to cookies you can know the number of sessions on your website and the number of unique visitors.

What’s the point in collecting data?

Marketers rely on cookies to track users’ activity. They need to get this kind of information about their customers and leads in order to understand who they are. What is at stake here is the knowledge of customers’ behavior.

Offline, “bricks & mortar” and even “bricks & clicks” have a great advantage: they have the chance to meet face to face with their clients in-store. Online, this is a whole different story. Of course there’s no point in collecting data if you don’t know how to use it. You must pick information that enables you to customise your message and that is more likely to trigger a purchase. Show the right product, at the right time, with the right channel, that’s the real challenge for marketers. Thus, data is a powerful leverage for personalization. Thanks to data analysis, companies like La Fourchette are able to adapt the website interface and the content for each user.

Are cookies crumbling?

Cookies only enable you to identify a combination of one device and one browser. Which means that if you are visiting this blog from Google Chrome and from Internet Explorer at the same time, you will be counted twice. And this is a serious drawback. Cookies are not sufficient because they are not able to recognize the user.

It’s a problem not only because cookies are linked to a specific browser but mostly because we now live in a cross-device world. A same user can use his smartphone to look for information about a product and then use his computer to buy it. For mobile devices, it’s even harder to collect data in-app since applications do not use cookies.

On top of that, users annoyed with these methods have different ways to bypass cookies. They can either set their browser to reject some cookies, or they can delete cookies that are already stored in their browser’s cache. They can also get rid of them faster thanks to applications such as Ghostery. In European countries, it’s now a legal requirement to warn the user. Cookie banners are another way to protect the privacy of users.

Obviously, the loss of valuable data is huge for marketers, and it’s a matter of quantity and quality.

Cookies vs. Fingerprinting

Cookies are now presumed dead. As profiling issues have become a major concern, marketers need to get more detailed information about unique visitors. That’s why companies are increasingly turning to more sophisticated technologies such as fingerprinting. séjours linguistiques This method enables marketers to get more accurate information. Your fingerprint includes the brand of your device (desktop or mobile), the screen size, the time zone, etc. Just have a look on Am I unique? to realize how powerful it is. All these characteristics form a unique setup, in other words, a unique signature. And so an easily trackable one. In addition, fingerprinting is universal and is also efficient on mobile devices. It seems that we are getting closer to our user… But it has one big flaw. It’s undetectable, which means that regarding users’ privacy it’s an ethical issue. Although fingerprinting is a more efficient technology, many companies are reluctant to use it for the moment because of its dark side.

 

Some of you would think it sounds creepy. And we cannot blame you! But think about it. For marketers, fingerprinting is a way to optimize their marketing spends and ROI thanks to a more accurate targeting and tracking method. For customers, it could be a way to avoid spam and get relevant content and advertising only. A win-win situation. Fingerprinting might be the future of online advertising. But of course it comes with a price, our privacy. As users, we need now to ask ourselves if we are willing to pay…

About the author

Lamia Bakhalek

Lamia Bakhalek

Hi! I am Lamia and I am studying Digital Business Strategy at Grenoble Ecole de Management (GEM). I am also currently working as a Digital Performance Consultant at Webedia