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Cookie Based vs People Based Marketing

Have you ever stumbled across these two digital marketing terms, Cookie Based Marketing and People Based Marketing, and wondered what they meant and how they differ? Here’s a brief – non-technical – explanation of the two terms.

Cookies are small files that carry bits of information on websites you’ve visited which then get stored on your computer. Cookies make it easier and quicker for the website’s server to retrieve previously visited pieces of information because your devices’ IP Address is already stored on the server. Cookies also help to improve your user experience on a particular website.

Now Cookie Based Marketing (CBM) relies on the information stored between a users’ single device i.e. laptop, computer and the server, which tracks a devices’ browsing history and actions that were taken. Therefore cookies are used as indicators of the number of times a singular device or single browser was used to visit a particular website and signals which pages were viewed and the duration. However, CBM doesn’t look at the individual user but rather the device or web browser that was used to visit the website i.e. Firefox, Safari, and Google Chrome. Therefore the number of visits to a singular website are inflated as a single user can visit your website using multiple devices and on different web browsers because the cookie tracking site will count all these visits as unique visits.

The downside to CBM is that cookies can be blocked or deleted which impacts the record of a website’s traffic. Also, most mobile phones don’t allow any 3rd party cookies to be used. The word ‘party’ refers to the domain that the external website used to place the cookie – so the address will be different from the original website address that you visited.

E.g. the site visited below is  but the domain of the cookie they used differs from the web address like and These would be considered as 3rd party cookies which could be their external advertisers or tracking metric.

People Based Marketing, a term first coined by Facebook in 2014, is a technique used to track an individual’s activity across various devices and web browsers by asking for their login details like an email address or any other identifying information. People Based Marketing (PBM) proves to be more effective than CBM because mobile applications require your login details to make purchases making is easier to records all your activity under a single unique user profile. Mobile devices like the Apple’s iPhone, sell this information to trusted 1st party advertisers such as Facebook, Google or Spree which explains why you would see an ad on a product that you viewed in your Spree mobile app on Facebook or on Google.

Through this technique, marketers are able to learn a single user’s behaviour and interest and can try grouping similar users together for future advertising and remarketing efforts. PBM also helps to measure an ad’s success because a single unique user’s journey can be tracked from the moment they see an advert, click to visit the website, leave, come back and finally make the purchase.

Remember, 1st party cookies and People Based Marketing techniques only know what you are i.e gender, age, location, interests, and not necessarily who you are i.e your face or personal identity. Plus it is illegal to sell or share people’s private details without getting consent from the customer.

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