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How to optimize personalization while still respecting consent

Author: Tiffany Staples

Customer consent is a hot topic, as marketers scramble to adjust traditional methods of personalization that rely on third-party cookies, browser tracking, and implied consent that is no longer compliant with regulations and consumer demands. The question of how to optimize personalization in light of these challenges is front-of-mind for most organizations. Rest assured, the death of third-party cookies is NOT the death of personalization, and in fact it presents an opportunity to differentiate your organization while building invaluable customer loyalty and brand reputation. The key to success is how your consented personalization strategy is executed.

Respecting consent is crucial to maintaining brand integrity and growing revenue. The future of personalization demands organizations are flexible enough to meet consumer demands by using various approaches to personalization that adapt to each individual. This requires a multi-faceted approach to personalization across various consent stages.

  1. Encourage zero-party data capture through creative outreach

The first approach is to focus on capturing zero-party data as much as possible. Brands who provide value to their customers in exchange for their data can actively gain consent along with valuable insight into their target market. Get creative with your zero-party efforts and think like a consumer – what’s valuable to me when interacting with the brand, what can they give me that would keep me coming back, and what information am I willing to provide to get those benefits. Effective zero-party data collection can be achieved through numerous channels:

  • Customer satisfaction and preference surveys (How did we meet your expectations, what other products/services would you be interested in)
  • Quizzes and games that can be fun for consumers and help represent the brand voice (What’s your fashion style, find your spirit animal)
  • Personalized profiles (Complexion profile for a beauty retailer, travel profile for an airline)
  • Loyalty programs (Visit frequency, product interest, offer interest, deal sensitivity)

In addition to capturing consent and direct consumer insights, this approach is all about customer engagement which simultaneously increases brand awareness and loyalty.

  1. Maximize consent acceptance

The second approach is to earn consent as often as possible. The best way to do this is by providing multiple options in your cookie banner and being very clear about the why and how. Using clear, concise language helps visitors understand the purpose quickly and easily. Try to make the descriptions short and to-the-point as most visitors don’t want to read a novel. To increase engagement, make the messaging personal by using we, our, and you to help create a connection with the visitor. If possible, brands can also provide short descriptions for the cookie consent choices, along with an option to expand or link to additional detail. This provides a simple explanation for visitors in a hurry, and specific detail for those who want a more thorough understanding of how their information will be used. To maximize consent, make sure to clearly state how your data use will improve the visitor's experience while still respecting their privacy

Here are some examples of good and bad cookie consent approaches:




General cookie notice

“We use cookies to deliver content, measure effectiveness, and personalize your experience on our website. We do not collect any personal identifiable information unless you enable us to do so. Learn more about how we use cookies.”

Options: Accept all. Manage preferences. Learn More

Why? It’s short and to the point, uses plain language, and provides options for granular choices and more information.

“This website stores cookies on your computer. These cookies are used to improve your website experience and provide more personalized services to you, both on this website and through other media.”

Options: Accept

Why? This is very vague and only allows one option - accept

Specific consent choices

“Experience cookies allow us to remember the choices you make, such as the cookies in your basket or your display preferences.”

“Marketing cookies let us better understand your interests so that we can personalize your website experience.”

“Advertising cookies help us ensure the ads you see are relevant to your interests and limit the number of times you see an ad.”

Why? Clear and concise, easy for visitor to understand

“We process your data to deliver content or advertisements and measure the delivery of such content or advertisements to extract insights about our website. We share this information with our partners on the basis of consent. You may exercise your right to consent, based on a specific purpose below or at a partner level in the link under each purpose. These choices will be signaled to our participating vendors.”

Why? This is way too long/wordy and uses unnecessarily complex vocabulary



Checklist for functionality cookies, experience cookies, and advertising cookies with no detail.

Why? Without detail visitors don’t know what the cookies are doing or why they are needed.


Checklist with 17 options for specific cookies

Why? Too much detail is confusing and overwhelming for visitors, and risks a blanket “decline” response to avoid having to read it all

Another way to maximize consent acceptance is to strategically ask for consent when not already provided – for example if a visitor ignored or declined the initial cookie banner. You can initiate a targeted consent banner when an opted-out visitor tries to customize a product, sign up for notifications, or get a coupon. The key here is that your intention should not be to bypass the opt-out, but to provide a better user experience. Much like a form-gated piece of content, people are more willing to share their information in exchange for something of value. And most people understand that certain actions require certain information – such as a phone number to receive text alerts. As always, your use and purpose for this consent should be clearly and concisely explained.

  1. Capitalize on no-party data solutions

When zero-party efforts and optimized consent aren’t effective, there’s still an opportunity to provide a relevant experience by using no-party data. This third approach to privacy-first personalization rounds out a wholistic strategy by enabling customization at the session-specific level. When an individual opts out of cookies or their browser restricts them altogether, organizations are left with a personalization gap – they can’t use identifiers or data sharing to offer a one-to-one experience. But they can use protected, contextualized, session-specific data insights to provide a more tailored experience that still respects the privacy of the visitor.

By containing the data capture within the current session, no-party data activation enables brands to uncover preferences, recognize user interaction patterns and sequences, and guide effective real-time messaging for anonymous visitors.

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