Cookie Revolution in the Era of Online Privacy


In the frantic race to balance marketing and privacy, cookies and the GDPR take center stage, while creative solutions emerge as key pillars of successful marketing.

Privacy: one of the most debated topics in recent years, the center of numerous discussions that include phrases like “they’re spying on us,” “they’re listening to me,” “you should cover your camera with black tape!” 

These statements arise from the fact that advertisements for the latest vacuum cleaner model they just looked for seem to appear everywhere: on social media feeds, web pages, and so on, like an episode of Black Mirror (those of you who have seen the sixth season will easily understand the reference). 

It should be clear to everyone that this is not about industrial espionage – our phones are not that interesting anyway. It’s the famous cookies, the first button we encounter on most websites and the cornerstone of well-executed digital marketing. 

But the story is not that simple. There is a whole segment of professionals who are often overlooked unless one understands their roles and responsibilities: marketers, whose challenges have significantly increased since we started talking about “measurable marketing”. 

A profession in eternal conflict, on one hand facing data protection officers who reject any form of tracking, including that of technical cookies for saving preferences, and on the other hand risking involvement in unsafe tracking of “anonymized” users. 

You can understand that in a reality increasingly focused on ensuring online privacy, the most obvious question is:

Is there still hope for us marketers? 

Our task today is to help you better understand how to navigate in this hybrid world, bridging technology and creativity, programmers and creative directors. 

So let’s take a moment to examine the past and imagine the future. 

Farewell to Privacy: Data Collection Made Accessible to All 

With the proliferation of tracking technologies, targeting and retargeting have become the norm. In short, while targeting refers to the strategy of identifying and reaching a specific audience in line with the service or product to be promoted, retargeting is a form of targeting that aims to reach users who have already interacted with a brand or website to maintain their interest and increase conversion chances. 

Currently, there are over 5 billion online users, and most of their actions are anonymously and consensually monitored. It’s not difficult to imagine the amount of data collected every day, but understanding how all of this happens can be quite challenging. 

It’s not just about contact forms or subscriptions: every page scroll, click, screen view, or response to messages, every action taken on a web browser or mobile application is traceable (including the use of hardware like the camera and microphone). 

Have you ever heard of Google Tag Manager? It’s a tool that allows for centralized and simplified management of tracking “tags,” where the term “tag” encompasses all the events described earlier. 

But to what extent is anonymity ensured? This depends on a series of regulations that have been in place since the 1980s to protect online privacy. 



The Web Tracking Regulation

The GDPR stands as the first line of defense for online privacy, introducing new regulations to safeguard users’ rights. From obligations regarding information disclosure, permissions, and consent, to the regulation of data tracking, it has significantly shaped the landscape. 

Since the publication of the GDPR, businesses have been required to standardize their processes and implement transparent measures to protect their users’ privacy. This shift happened swiftly, resulting in fines and penalties for those who failed to promptly adopt compliant cookie policies. 

Could we consider May 25, 2018, as the “Millennium bug” of cookie consent banners? 

Amid last-minute updates and buggy implementations, everyone has come to recognize the utmost importance of safeguarding user data. 

New Cookie Banners: Bridging Creative Solutions and Precision 

Let’s take a step back to ensure we don’t leave any of our readers behind. So, what exactly are cookies and cookie bars? When we talk about cookies, we’re referring to small snippets of code that are saved on a user’s device during their browsing session. These cookies collect information about their activity and help provide a more personalized experience. 

On the other hand, “cookie bars” are the notifications or banners that appear on websites to inform users about the use of cookies. You’ve probably come across quite a few of them in just the past couple of weeks. 

The birth of cookie bars has been quite an interesting phenomenon, giving rise to some truly remarkable experiences. Taking a tour of these websites will give you a better sense of what we’re talking about. 

The creative solutions where design makes cookie acceptance an immersive experience. meet Spy Pharaoh, the intriguing protagonist of an experience perfectly aligned with the brand’s communication strategy.

The fine-tuned solutions

  • let’s just say, it’s easier to award a penalty kick in a Champions League final than to understand the cookie management on their website.

Today, all GDPR-regulated websites appear to be compliant with its regulations – at least on the surface. But as they say, there’s a vast difference between theory and practice, and in this case, it involves a highly intricate technical realm that any proficient marketer must be well-versed in. 

The New Challenge: Optimization 

Due to the increasing focus on online privacy, large IT companies have found themselves facing a new challenge: reconfiguring their algorithms. This battle is shared with their marketing colleagues, who, on the other hand, are dealing with greater complexity in tracking trends. 

It is evident that in a context filled with variables, data is more crucial than ever. Measuring process performance (known as Key Performance Indicators or KPIs) and optimizing strategies can no longer be ignored. 

Technique plays a significant role in this scenario. Implementing server-side tracking solutions, which involve shifting data collection and processing directly to their own servers rather than relying on third parties, can enhance security and ensure compliance. 

Equally important is the incorporation of the “privacy by design” concept. In our case, this means integrating data protection from the early stages of marketing strategy development. By doing so, it guarantees more effective management of user’s personal data and greater adherence to regulations. 

These issues do not have simple or definitive solutions. However, through education, practical experience, and deep understanding of the subject matter, we can address them. In managing the daily challenges, our responsibility is to support clients, providing them with effective solutions that align closely with their values and operational approach. 

There are interconnected worlds that we have only briefly mentioned and would like to delve into further.

What would you like to read about in the next article?
  • Cybersecurity?
  • Ethical implications in data usage ?
  • Privacy by design and privacy engineering?