Retargeting is an ad technology that allows marketers to show consumers ads related to their past website visits or their personal interests. It works by placing a small bit of code called a “cookie” on the consumer’s browser so their web usage can be tracked in a limited way. Cookies also allow websites to remember login usernames and are used by marketers to measure the performance of their ads.
In B2B, where shopping carts are replaced with sales cycles and consumers are replaced with prospects, retargeting technology is increasingly popular for its ability to target prospects who have indicated some form of prior interest or who have some demographic or psychographic alignment with the marketer’s offerings.
On June 4, 2018, Apple stepped up its consumer privacy efforts with the announcement of something called Intelligent Tracking Prevention 2.0. “ITP 2.0” as it is known, greatly restricts the efficacy of cookies on its Safari browser, making retargeting more difficult for advertisers on networks like Facebook and Google. By restricting such cookies, marketers not only have to spend more money advertising to less targeted audiences but also do more work to figure out proper advertising attribution metrics.
Since both Facebook and Google rely heavily on advertising revenue, what are these two ad giants doing about Apple’s ITP 2.0? And what does that mean for B2B marketers?
Google had already updated its uber-popular Google Analytics tool to utilize first-party cookies as well as releasing a Global Site Tag tool that also leverages first-party cookies to collect information about consumers and prospects. Meanwhile, Facebook recently announced that its retargeting technology will now support first-party cookies.
So What’s A First-Party Cookie, You Ask?
While both first-party cookies and third-party cookies work in relatively the same manner, first-party cookies belong to the website owners and third-party cookies are owned by ad platforms or other third parties the website owners may advertise on or track analytics with. So first-party cookies are created by the website owners, and third-party cookies are owned by companies such as LinkedIn (which also makes money from ads). Make sense?
Since the two most popular third-party cookies for most B2B marketers are from Google and Facebook, ITP 2.0 is aimed squarely at these ad networks and the marketers who rely on them for both effective retargeting ad campaigns and accurate analytics to measure the performance of each ad.
In the past, most companies simply used third-party cookies by Facebook and Google for both tracking and retargeting, but Apple’s latest move forces many marketers to create their own first-party cookies in order to have accurate ad metrics and to retarget their prospects properly.
What Does This Mean For B2B marketers?
Unlike B2C, where shopping cart abandons make retargeting fairly straightforward, B2B marketers have to deal with sales cycles, where the use of retargeting to keep their brand at the top of their prospect’s mind is critical to driving higher conversions to closed/won customers.
This means that moving forward, B2B marketers need to create first-party cookies themselves and not just rely on Facebook’s or Google’s alone, as well as needing to make some adjustments using both Facebook’s and Google’s new analytics tools and features. Fortunately, there are solutions:
• Marketers should check with their IT departments or their webmasters to install first-party cookie packages, which can be built in-house or are available from vendors, many of whom offer reporting capabilities for GDPR compliance.
• It also means marketers should update their websites with Google’s new Tag Manager and have it set up properly so it continues to measure ad metrics accurately.
• Lastly, marketers should upgrade to Facebook’s new retargeting pixel, which is now available and be ready to incorporate their own first-party cookies.
Perhaps the silver lining for savvy B2B marketers engaging in retargeting is that it makes what they do a little bit more technical with an additional layer of complexity for their less sophisticated competitors.