Digital Marketing

Marketing Cookies - Everything You Need To Know.

By Muhammad Hanzla Ijaz

Marketing cookies work by targeting advertising to a user. They are usually served as third-party companies and track a user across websites

So how do Marketing cookies work? Marketing/Tracking cookies are mostly useful for marketing and advertising purposes. The main objective is to increase the likelihood of the user purchasing a product or service. For example, you planned to take a road trip to the hilly areas or the beach. You started searching the websites to know a little about your destination. You might also log onto the sites of attractions, restaurants, and hotels in that area. Later on, when you surf any news sites, entertainment blogs, and community sites, you start seeing ads from the same hotels and attractions.

Marketing cookies also track users’ IP addresses and geographic location. Such information is crucial for marketers who want to show users ads for upcoming concerts or events in their area, tickets for local cricket or soccer matches, or sales at nearby stores. 

For a more clear understanding,

What are cookies? 

We can say cookies, HTTP cookies, internet cookies, or browser cookies, are small text files. Websites create and store these cookies on your computer. They remember and store vital information like email, home address, shipping information, username or password, or even particular interests related to a user or website.  For example, if a user on a website added a certain item to a shopping cart and later exited the website for some reason. A cookie will store information about the user so that the next time they come to that site, their shopping cart will have the items they previously added to it. 

This technology facilitates various functions, including:

  • Activating retargeting ads 
  • Storing stateful data (Like, the previous example mentioned above: the item’s user added to a shopping cart on an e-commerce site)
  • Storing data previously entered into forms (used for autocomplete functions)
  • Saving user preferences
  • Authentication cookies communicate the user’s account details and log-in status to account-protected servers.
  • Recording user activity

All of these web cookie functions facilitate digital marketing functions, whether directly or indirectly.

Examples of marketing/tracking cookies

Google Adwords cookie

Firstly, Google uses cookies for advertising, including serving and generating ads and personalizing ads. Moreover, it is useful in restricting the number of times an ad appears to a user, muting ads you don’t want to see, and estimating the efficacy of ads. AdSense sends a cookie to the user’s browser after any impression, click, or other activity that results in a call to their servers. If the browser accepts the cookie, it saves it.


Secondly comes Doubleclick, another business owned by Google that makes money from online advertisers and publishers. Online publishers use it to display adverts on their websites. While on the other hand, advertisers use it to control how often an ad appears on a browser, its duration, and its frequency. Online publishers can set a Doubleclick cookie to tell them what sections of their sites the users are browsing. Doubleclick will then judge the adverts you might like to see from what you’re browsing. For example, if a user is on a news website and he/she visits the sports pages, adverts for match tickets may be more relevant than cosmetics. This information belongs to the website owner only.

Remarketing pixels

A remarketing pixel, also known as a retargeting or tracking pixel, is a cookie-based technology that uses simple Javascript code to anonymously “track” your audience all over the Web. By placing a small, unobtrusive piece of code on your website, also referred to as a pixel.  Pixel runs when a page loads and notes who visited each page on that site. Companies like Google and Facebook offer retargeting pixels that you can add to your website to help you with retargeting. Furthermore, once the pixel is ready, each of those platforms sets up a  group of people who can see your website or click your link. It also creates a lists that you can access later.

Social Media cookies

Last comes social media cookies that connects a website to a third-party social media platform. This social media platform is present in a website. For example, cookies from social networking sites like  Instagram and LinkedIn can be classified as social media cookies. These cookies remember a user’s details after they sign in to a social media account from a website. Mostly plugins, widgets, and sharing buttons configure social media cookies.

To further clarify, a cookie placed on your website by YouTube to measure the views of an embedded video is a social media cookie.

Types of cookies

Websites use following types of cookies,

Statistics-Anonymous Cookies

Anonymous tracking gathers information related to visits to your page without storing any identification of particular individuals. This way it acts as a safety net for visitors to turn down a request to store cookies. A benefit you get from using such cookies is that you can still collect some data for your pages while also protecting the identity of visitors.

Statistics/analytics Cookies

Analytical cookies are also known as performance cookies. Its sole purpose is to monitor and help boost a website’s performance by collecting information anonymously about how visitors use the website. It includes tracking the most popular pages or counting errors on damaged websites. Analytics cookies monitor site performance and follow user actions. The data is collected, and improvements are made after examining how the website performs. It can count page visits, how much time a user has spent on a website, and bounce rates and loading speeds to enhance performance.

Functional/Preference Cookies

Functionality cookies, or preference cookies, are useful to enhance the performance of websites by remembering the user’s site preferences and choices they make on the site, including username, region, and language. It allows the website to provide personalized features like local news stories and weather reports if users share their location. They are anonymous and don’t track browsing activity across other websites. These cookies can remember your preferences to boost the user experience. Examples of functionality cookies include web chat services, user preferences, and the ability to comment on a blog you visit.

Targeting and Advertising Cookies

Targeting and advertising cookies are useful to gather information from your device to display advertisements based on relevant topics that interest you. Advertisers will set these cookies on a website with the website operator’s permission. Information collected via cookies is shared with other advertisers to measure the performance of their advertisements. Additionally, another goal of these cookies is to build user profiles from visitors to the website to collect statistics on the performance of the ads carried across many websites. 

Persistent Cookies

Persistent Cookies help create a convenient and faster website experience. Users device stores cookies which help to remember information, settings, preferences, or sign-on credentials that a user has previously saved. These cookies have an expiration date issued to them by the web server. This type of cookie is present on your computer, so the cookie is still there when you close it and start it up again. Once it reaches the expiration date, the owner can destroy it.

Session Cookies

Lastly comes Session cookies. People often confuse persistent with session cookies. To simply put that confusion to rest, we can say a cookie that does not contain an expiration date is considered a session cookie. 

But for a more precise understanding, we can say that session cookies, also known as Non-Persistent Cookies or Temporary Cookies, are stored in memory and never written to the disk. They remain active as long as the browser remains active. On the other hand, the cookies vanish once the browser is closed.