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How e-commerce stores can use first-party data for Google retargeting

January 5, 2022   |
   Raja Rajan

For so many years, marketers have enjoyed the benefits of cookie tracking over internet user activities.

Google tracks your e-commerce stores 

⚫  Website traffic, 

⚫  Visitor sources, 

⚫  Frequency of visits, pages visited by them

⚫  And specific e-commerce data like (people in add to cart, wishlist, check out page visits, average order value, number of orders, etc.) 

Some of the benefits enjoyed by marketers so far include

⚫  Personalized web experiences for the visitor

⚫  Improved retargeting (knows who the user is and can retarget them well)

⚫  Efficient data collection (cookie collection across domains)

All good or bad things must end. The time has come for a change. 

The latest privacy regulations – GDPR, CCPA, etc, phasing out of cookies, the recent iOS’14+ updates have fueled change in most businesses and forced businesses to rely on first-party data for things like Google retargeting.

Google Retargeting affected by privacy regulations, cookie ban, Apple'iOS'14 Update

Like we said above, Pixel tracking helps track the website visitors, their behavior, etc. Due to the recent happenings like the privacy regulations, Apple iOS’14+ update Google’s tracking ability is severely limited making Google’s access to iOS’14 user behavioral data close to none.

These factors have led to a huge drop in match rates making retargeting audiences shrink substantially i.e., there are high chances that you won’t be having enough audience to run Google retargeting campaigns. 

Even if you have enough audience for running retargeting campaigns, your campaign performance at present when compared to the pre-ios’14 performance would have dropped intensely.

Google Announcement on Apple iOS'14 impacts

Source: Google

Note: The same challenge applies to Facebook campaigns as well.

To overcome these challenges, brands that want to succeed have to take ownership of their first-party data rather than relying on Google.

What is first-party data?

First-party data is the information you directly collect from your audiences or website visitors.

Many simply think of first-party data in terms of known customer data with (name, email, and phone number)

Here’s how first-party data is differentiated 

⚫  Anonymous visitors and 

⚫  Customers/ Known visitors

Anonymous visitors – 98% of the audience who visits your website won’t give you any data, i.e., name, email address, etc., and are called anonymous visitors.

Customers/ Known visitors – Website visitors/ subscribers who gave their name, email address directly while making a purchase or by any other way are called Known visitors/ customers.

First-party data - Anonymous visitor and Known visitor

How does First-Party Data impact Google retargeting?  

As Google has planned to phase out cookies by 2022-23, many brands have started pioneering their ad campaigns with first-party data. According to Google, 87% of brands view first-party data as very important to their marketing.

By properly utilizing first-party data and sharing them with Google for retargeting, you can increase your campaign performance and overall sales to new heights. By doing so, you can stay in compliance with privacy laws and other regulations.

Collect first-party data (includes collecting anonymous visitor data)

Spoiler: By utilising anonymous visitors for retargeting, you can increase overall sales by 1-2x times.

Ecommerce businesses should take up the ownership of collecting first-party data on their own, rather than relying on Google (which isn’t reliable now). Collecting anonymous visitor data is equally as important as collecting known visitor data/ customer data. Even 2-3% sales from the anonymous audience can up your revenue game.  

Consider utilising CDP tools like CustomerLabs to collect both the anonymous and known visitors of your website.

It’s not about simply collecting first-party data, you should know how to plan and leverage using first-party data.

Determine How to Leverage First-Party Data 

Before you start collecting data, take the time to figure out how you intend to use first-party data to achieve your retargeting goals.

You might use it to 

👉  Run middle of the funnel retargeting campaigns

👉  Bottom of the funnel campaigns to increase sales

👉  Run campaigns for customers to make them purchase again, etc.

This planning lets you understand the customer behavior data and helps run highly personalised ad campaigns.

Take Personalized retargeting ads to the next level with advanced audience segments.

According to epsilon, 80 percent of the customers report they are likely to make a purchase from a business that offers a personalised experience.

After collecting both anonymous visitor and known visitor data (customer data). You can segment them based on their behaviors.

Example segments for anonymous visitors based on their funnels

⚫  Cart_abandoned for more than 60days – MOFU

⚫  Product _viewed_more than 2times – MOFU

⚫  Initiated_checkout_not purchased – BOFU

⚫  Added to cart – BOFU

For anonymous visitors, the above segments are created based on their behaviors. This helps build personalized ad campaigns based on their segment buckets.

Example: For a bunch of anonymous visitors who checked a particular product like white shoes, can be segmented and run personalized ads with a 30% discount for white shoes to make them purchase the product

Example segments for known visitors/ customers

⚫  Customers who bought products on black Friday sales

⚫  Customers who bought Apparel jeans before 6-months.

⚫  Customers who purchased candles on Christmas sales

The intent to build known visitor/ customer behavioral segments is to make them purchase again.

Example: For a group of customers who bought a pair of candles last Christmas can be segmented and run ads with a discount to make them purchase again in this holiday season.

To seamlessly segment your first-party data audience, you can use CustomerLabs CDP audience builder to create various audience segments.

Benefits of using First-party data for Google retargeting:

👉 First-party data is cheap. 

👉 First-party data is accurate than third-party data.

👉 First-party data is unique – your competitors won’t have access to your data.

👉 First-party data helps increase marketing performance.

👉 First-party data boost personalization. 


The end-game for third-party cookies has already begun. It’s only a matter of time for Google to ban cookie tracking. These privacy regulations and cookie bans are actually a blessing in disguise to marketers to move away from relying on Google and other ad platforms for tracking their data. Now marketers have to wake up and leverage their first-party data for ad campaigns and other personalization strategies.

The primary step is to collect first-party data, analyse their behaviors, and segment them. As a business, you can start working on a first-party data strategy and begin implementing it right away. If you require any assistance in getting it set up, you can talk to us.

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