83% of marketers currently use third-party cookies to inform their decision-making. This practice helps them understand the type of content a user cares about by using web tracking technology to see what they look at on other websites. This is the crux of cross-web tracking. It’s a tool that can be super useful for getting more out of your website traffic. But there’s reason to believe that it won’t exist in its current state for much longer. That’s why we’re highlighting cross-web tracking and its future so you can determine if your company should be using it or not.
Let’s get into it.
What is cross-web tracking?
Cross-web tracking tracks a user’s behavior across the internet, primarily for advertising purposes. This is typically done using third-party cookies, but other methods, like embedded scripts and supercookies, exist.
Why it exists
This visitor tracking tactic has become extremely popular because of its effectiveness.
Cross-web tracking expands the pool of data that marketers have to work with by a large amount. Instead of only being able to use the user data generated on their website, marketers can use data generated on other websites as well with cross-web tracking.
This is powerful because it delivers more profound insights into target audiences. And when marketers understand their audiences better, they can create content that audience members are likelier to interact with, which is ultimately good for a company’s bottom line.
How consumers feel about cross-web tracking
As you might be able to imagine, cross-web tracking isn’t very popular with the average consumer. The amount of people who dislike the practice has grown in recent years as concerns over data privacy become more pronounced.
A recent study by Cisco found that 86% of consumers care about data privacy now, and 79% are willing to invest time or money to protect their privacy.
Since many people see cross-web tracking as an invasion of their data privacy, it’s no wonder that the strategy is starting to come under fire by regulators.
For example, the European Union passed its General Data Protection Regulation (GDPR), placing restrictions on how companies operating in the EU can harvest and use consumer data. Those who violate the GDPR face hefty fines for doing so.
Similar legislation was passed in California and other parts of the world. This signifies a clear global trend toward reining in existing cross-web tracking practices.
Does it make sense for your company to use cross-web tracking?
Though data privacy is becoming more important, that doesn’t change that cross-web tracking is still an extremely effective marketing tool.
The question becomes: should your company use this visitor tracking tech? Or should it opt for a more privacy-friendly way to use its website traffic?
Every business will approach this issue differently. So here are four questions you can ask yourself to determine whether cross-web tracking is proper for you.
Where do you do business?
The regulations on data privacy in your area will significantly impact whether or not cross-web tracking is realistic. If you do business in the EU, for example, you’re probably not going to be able to use cross-web tracking effectively.
But if you live in another jurisdiction, you might be able to use the practice without any restrictions. So it’s important to have some clarity around the regulations in your area before moving forward.
How much does your audience value data privacy?
Some people care about data privacy more than others. This can also impact whether or not cross-web tracking is a good idea for your business.
For instance, a cryptocurrency company attracts tech-savvy investors who value decentralization and privacy. They likely wouldn’t want to do business with a brand that abuses cross-web tracking.
But your company might sell to people who don’t care one way or the other. And in that case, you might not face much blowback for using the strategy.
Can you achieve your marketing goals with another strategy?
As a general rule of thumb, if you can achieve your marketing goals without using cross-web tracking, it’s probably a good idea. You won’t have to worry about keeping tabs on changing regulations or turning away some of your target audience.
Can you use cross-web tracking more ethically?
It’s also possible to use some cross-web tracking strategies without alienating a large portion of your audience. The key to doing this is being upfront and straightforward about the data you collect from website visitors – and how you use it.
Most companies nowadays also use opt-in forms. Consumers who don’t want to have their data used in this way can simply say so.
It could give you the best of both worlds if you can figure out a way to use cross-web tracking that is both ethical and legal under local regulations.
Alternatives to cross-web tracking
First-party cookies only allow you to collect user data from actions on your website. Many consumers and regulators feel better about this since there’s a direct connection between you and the customer.
You can use first-party cookies to generate insightful information about your target audience and individual members.
The data you get might not be as powerful as it would be with cross-web tracking, but when you just use first-party cookies, you don’t have to worry about all of the potential pitfalls of cross-web tracking.
Google’s Privacy Sandbox
Google’s Privacy Sandbox is a tool the company created specifically to give companies an alternative to cross-web tracking. It’s designed to strike a more harmonious balance between companies’ marketing interests and the data privacy interests of consumers.
Several APIs within the Privacy Sandbox are designed to replace a company’s reliance on third-party cookies. One of these is the FLoC or the Federated Learning of Cohorts.
The gist of FLoC is that users get placed into groups (or cohorts) with similar users based on their web-browsing data. For example, two people interested in basketball might get into the same cohort.
This gives companies a way to find and interact with users who fit their target audience without actually having to access a user’s data.
The net result is good for both companies and consumers. Companies can access the user bases they want to target, and consumers don’t have to worry about their data getting passed around from company to company online.
Contextual targeting is another strategy you may be able to use to reach your target audience without cross-web tracking.
It involves placing ads on web pages based on an analysis of the keywords and phrases featured on those web pages.
Say someone goes to a soccer website to look at the results of a recent game. A company that sells athletic gear could use contextualized advertising to see if the web page focuses on soccer, and place ads accordingly to reach their desired consumer.
LeadLander makes it easier to get the most out of your company’s web-tracking methods
Cross-web tracking is an effective way to understand and connect with your target audience. But you may or may not want to use it depending on how you feel about growing consumer concerns regarding data privacy.
But even if you don’t want to use cross-web tracking, first-party cookies give you some informative intel about the people who interact with your website. LeadLander’s website tracking tool makes it easier to understand and use this data.
Our platform presents all of the web data you need in a clean, intuitive dashboard. With it, you can see:
- How people are getting to your website
- What type of content they’re looking at while on it
- Real-time alerts when repeat visitors come back to your site
- Which landing pages perform the best
You can sign up for a risk-free 14-day trial of LeadLander today to see the value we can provide for you.