The remarketing struggle and how to overcome it

Only 4% of all visitors end up making a purchase the first time they visit your website. But that doesn’t necessarily mean that the remaining 96% are disinterested in what you have to offer ... So, why would you spend big money on attracting new visitors if you can retarget already interested ones? But, while integrating remarketing in your marketing mix, you might bump into something we would like to call 'the remarketing struggle'. You probably already guessed it: people have become increasingly suspicious since the arrival of the GDPR. Let’s tackle those obstacles together!

For those of you who are not familiar with remarketing: it’s the act of advertising to the same person more than once, and by doing so, trying to achieve a conversion (whether that is a purchase, an appointment or a download). Looking for some background information? We unfold the ins and outs of remarketing in the first chapter of our white paper:

Download the white paper

Now everyone is on board, we can move on to the General Data Protection Regulation, a European regulation that aims to ensure online privacy. As these GDPR principles apply to all companies that process personal data of EU citizens, it has a huge impact on your (re)marketing too. In fact, it’s all about control and choice: does your website visitor want to be tracked online? Because the fact that people are becoming more and more aware of their data, doesn’t mean that they don’t want to share anything with you. As Matthias Dobbelaere-Welvaert already explained in the 15th edition of our yearly trend report, people just want to make sure that sharing certain data with you will add value (what's in it for me?) and that you will treat those data with respect.  Let’s dive into three obstacles you will encounter when you get started with remarketing!


Obstacle 1: website cookies

The European Union sees 'personal data' as a very broad concept: cookies are also considered personal data. A cookie banner is therefore mandatory on each and every website. And wouldn't you know: retargeting is among other things a cookie-based method that uses simple JavaScript code to anonymously follow your website visitors all over the internet.

How does it work? To get started with remarketing, you need to install a small snippet of code (Facebook Pixel, Google Tag, Criteo Pixel …) on each page of your website. This code tracks people and the types of actions they take when engaging with your brand, including the pages they visit on your website, the items they add to their baskets, the PDFs they download ... By gathering this kind of information through marketing cookies, you will be able to send them ads that are highly relevant to them. In other words, the user’s decision to accept the marketing cookies on your website or not definitely has consequences for your remarketing, as you won’t be able to collect his or her website behaviour.



Each platform is currently working on a legal workaround or a cookie alternative. Google, for example, already came up with FLoC (Federated Learning of Cohorts), a privacy-focused solution that will deliver relevant ads by clustering large groups of people with similar interests. With this post-cookie roadmap, accounts will be anonymised, grouped into interests and - more importantly - user information will be processed on-device rather than broadcasted across the web. Unfortunately, it's not yet GDPR compliant and currently being rolled out as a test in specific countries.


A valid workaround

The start-up Gener8 has found another workaround. Gener8 is a free-to-use web browser that blocks ads and cookie pop-ups. Instead, users are shown targeted ads (based on the interests they have selected when signing up) and earn money with that. Alternatively, a user can simply select the option to be completely private and have their personal information shielded. Founder Sam Jones explains: "Everything that we do online is being tracked to follow our movements and understand our behaviour. This information is then sold. I believe that people should have a choice to stop this from happening or, even better, to earn from it themselves." Interesting!

In fact, their business model perfectly fits in the fifth paradox of the 15th edition of our trend report, where Matthias Dobbelaere-Welvaert stated that people are willing to give up their privacy if they get something in return. Privacy has become a currency.

Obstacle 2: no website cookies

What if your company or government institution chooses not to install tracking pixels for ethical reasons? In that case, you obviously can’t do remarketing based on website cookies. But there is a valid workaround or simply another way to do remarketing:  

  • You could collect data with awareness ads. For this, we recommend working with video awareness ads, because this offers the most possibilities for remarketing: your audience doesn’t have to click, like or watch the entire video for you to get started with remarketing. And not only website visitors, but also people who just show interest in your brand but have not yet visited your website, are included. It's a win-win situation! VLAIO, for example, cannot install the Facebook Pixel on their website, as the government has given them this guideline. Facebook has been convicted of violating privacy laws more than once, so the government and its institutions cannot afford to be associated with this crime. PS: You can also implement this technique next to website cookies to fill the upper marketing funnel and attract new website visitors who you can retarget afterwards. By doing so, you basically prepare for remarketing.
  • You could also do remarketing within the platforms themselves by targeting everyone who has interacted with your business page or a social post. As long as you use this strategy to enrich your database, this can be a valid option. Just keep the following in the back of your mind: you commit to a platform that is not your own. So, if the platform disappears, so will your precious data. In the 15th edition of our trend report, we emphasize the danger of becoming dependent on a third party.

Obstacle 3: the iOS 14.5 update

The GDPR states that processing personal data is only permitted if the data are necessary to provide your services, if you have a legal obligation or if you have received permission to do so. The latter can possibly put a spoke in your wheels, as privacy and data usage take center stage in the latest Apple iOS update.

With iOS 14.5, users have the option to either ‘Allow Tracking’ or to ‘Ask app not to track’ across apps and websites. Only when (social) apps have received explicit permission from the user, they will be able to access the device’s advertising identifier and track them. So, the user’s decision to allow tracking or not across apps and websites definitely has consequences for your social advertising. The iOS 14.5 update has an impact on, among other things, your Facebook advertising: there will be less data available to base the audiences on, you will be limited to only 8 conversion events per domain, it will take one to three days between someone taking action and you seeing the data …


We can imagine you’re at a loss what to do now. That’s why we sat together with our online marketing team and collected five hands-on tips that can help you out with your Facebook advertising.

And, of course, we will happily use our experience to your benefit. Together, we can shorten your trial-and-error period. With Duke & Grace as your partner in crime, you will be 'ad' your best!


It's remarketing o'clock

Now you know how to face the remarketing struggle, it’s time to let people rediscover what they love about your business. To assist you along the way, we present remarketing in an easily manageable white paper, where we pinpoint where remarketing is located in the customer journey, discuss different strategies, explain how to set it up properly on the most common platforms - and all of that peppered with best practices.