Cookie Consent Optimization: it’s worth it

Cookie Consent Optimization pays off ✔ We at tractionwise share our 3 best tips with you and give you important background knowledge! ✔

For a long time, tracking was the holy grail of online marketing. But with the introduction of the GDPR, the wonderful world of cookies has become increasingly regulated – and the mandatory Cookie Consent banner has become an unwanted gatekeeper, broad-shouldered in front of every website. In the jungle of data protection regulations, even large companies often rely on a simple standard that usually completely disregards the needs of the user. In this article you will learn what consequences this disregard can have and how to do it better. This is how Cookie Consent Optimization works!

Cookie Consent Optimization - A short overview

Table of Contents

Small cookies - big opportunities

Tracking user activity via cookies has long been part of the basic basics in online marketing. Thanks to the small data packages, you can precisely track the behavior of users in order to target advertising and content. Valuable information that can be collected and used with the help of cookies includes:

  • Retrieval frequency and length of time users spend on the site.
  • Tracking of the customer journey across the page structure
  • other pages visited and visitors’ areas of interest
  • Products recently searched for or viewed
  • Shopping cart contents
  • Leads and credentials.

An entire industry quickly developed with so-called third-party vendors using the little “cookies” to satisfy companies’ and marketers’ hunger for information about their customers. In order to maintain an overview in the cookie jungle, tools such as Google Analytics, which make it easier to evaluate the collected data, also conquered the market.

GDPR: The end of the cookie clearing house

The endless possibilities of data collection with cookies also called critics to the scene – and the topic of data protection was soon on everyone’s lips. Finally, politicians also reacted and threw the proverbial cudgel between the legs of the information hunters in 2018 with the introduction of the General Data Protection Regulation (GDPR).

Since then, a lot has changed in the cookie landscape in practice: Today, website operators must not only inform their users in detail about the purpose and storage period of the collected data, but also obtain explicit consent from users before setting cookies.

No Nudging: Transparency is mandatory

Since 2018, numerous further court rulings and regulations have been driving the differentiation of data protection law. For example, former loopholes such as general cookie information without an opt-out option or so-called “nudging” are no longer permitted today: This approach, which literally means “pushing,” is intended to entice users to give their consent to data collection, for example, with the help of cleverly hidden or colorfully inconspicuous buttons for rejecting cookies – whether out of disinterest or simply frustration.

A ruling by the BGH also clarified that users must communicate their consent in the form of a clearly recognizable decision. A pre-selection in the settings, in which all available cookies are agreed to by default, is thus no longer permitted. Instead, users should be able to select the individual categories or providers themselves and thus consciously give their consent.

Third-party providers facing the end

Browser providers have also reacted to the cookie diet trend: Most of them now view the placement of pure advertising cookies critically and are therefore taking aim at the activities of tracking companies. Currently, almost all major Internet groups block the so-called third-party cookies in their browsers, led by:

  • Firefox
  • Safari
  • Opera

With Google, the last tech giant has also announced for its Chrome browser that it will prevent tracking via third-party cookies in the future by default. For online marketing, which previously relied on such extensive data pools, these developments mean profound changes – and usability can also be affected by the new regulations.

Consent Management Platforms - a smart solution?

The aim of the extensive regulations and laws should actually be to better protect user data from spying and fraud. However, it is often overlooked that cookies are not always used for questionable purposes. On the contrary: the small data packages are an essential part of the Internet, with which many user conveniences, such as the automatic filling of lead forms or the functions of the classic shopping cart in the online store, become possible in the first place.

After all, according to the legislator, such “essential” or “functional” cookies may (still) be set without explicit consent. However, the close interweaving of the individual cookie service providers is often difficult to resolve and inevitably leads to a whole rat’s tail of follow-up cookies. It is not always clear where the collected information ultimately ends up. This can be particularly problematic when data is transmitted to the USA: Because in the land of unlimited opportunities, data protection is hardly a priority.

Thanks to the strict legal requirements that must be met, the mandatory cookie consent query with banners or boxes is therefore becoming increasingly complicated. At first glance, the legal side can be relatively relaxed for website operators by using Consent Management Platforms (CMP), for example:


However, these tools often then confront users with dry legal instructions and countless checkboxes. This not only deters visitors but is also a hindrance to the overall site concept. Especially the so-called cookie boxes, which intervene directly when the page is called up and do not even release the content without consent, nip even the most comfortable UX concept in the bud – and generate not only a lot of frustration among users, but also dizzyingly high bounce rates.

Therefore, if you outsource cookie management to a service provider without taking any further measures, you may be legally protected, but you may be giving away a lot of traffic. Most data protection solutions, however, offer numerous setting options. But can users be persuaded to give their consent?

Consent is Key: 3 tips to optimize your Consent Rate

With the introduction of the Cookie Consent Banner, online marketing has gained a new KPI: the Consent Rate. Also known as opt-in rate, it measures the percentage of users who voluntarily give their consent to the storage of tracking and marketing cookies. Optimizing the consent rate has already become a new specialty for marketers. Even though the online industry is now trying to break new ground with semantic targeting or fingerprint tracking, cookies remain one of the most important sources of information.

Increasing the consent rate and thus the possibilities of obtaining analyzable data is therefore a goal that both small and large companies should keep in mind. As is so often the case, a customer-centric approach is also required here. Therefore, ask yourself what the user expects from the site and what incentive you can offer him to obtain his consent to the processing of his data.

Thanks to this change of perspective, important influencing factors often reveal themselves, which can generate noticeably higher approval rates even with small changes. Tractionwise has compiled the 3 best tips for you.

1. Class instead of mass - radically clean out.

A lot helps a lot is rarely good advice – and this also applies to the topic of cookies. The sheer mass of data records, which comes mainly from third-party providers and often leads to widely ramified and confusing provider clusters, not only scares off many users. After all, you have to evaluate these huge amounts of data for a real effect. Since most browsers now automatically block third-party cookies anyway, it pays to take a closer look at the essentials.

Therefore, ask yourself which cookies your site really needs. Why demand blanket consent for YouTube and Instagram when they are not relevant for the majority of the content? With most consent management tools, you can show the cookie banner for embedded videos and images, for example, only when they actually appear.

Ideally, you can even reduce your cookies to the point where you don’t even need consent beyond “essential cookies” and possibly do away with the blanket cookie consent banner altogether. This creates more transparency for users and generates significantly higher consent rates in the long run.

2. Honesty wins - winning users' trust with transparency

Awareness of the value of their data has increased massively with the introduction of the new data protection laws. And rightly so – after all, you also want to know that sensitive information about you and your company is in good hands. Transparency and honesty are therefore also the key to success when it comes to cookie consent. If cookie banners or boxes cannot be avoided, you can also use this space for your persuasion work.

Legal phrases and instructions are out of place here. Rather, meet your users at eye level and explain in simple words and clear language why you need the data of your visitors and what happens with it.

Also, refrain from subliminal manipulation attempts and place all buttons and options clearly visible and structured. Also, the possibility of deselecting all cookies with one click instead of having to click on a multitude of sliders shows respect for the user – and possibly creates confidence in a new visit to release your own data after all.

3. Quid pro quo - ask instead of demand

While we’re on the subject of honesty: Online marketers are not the only ones who know that data – and therefore also cookies – are not just decorative accessories, but often enough mean cash money. After all, the information gained should ultimately be used to increase sales. The deal is usually: content for data, information for information.

In order to get users to “swap,” it therefore seems reasonable at first glance to release the desired content with the help of an upstream cookie consent box only after the user has contributed his share to the bill. But the market is large, the alternatives often strong – and the bounce rates correspondingly high. Who likes to buy a pig in a poke? To convince your users of your service, it’s usually smarter to make the first move yourself.

Studies have shown that a rather discreet cookie banner (for example, at the bottom right or left of the screen) generates significantly higher approval rates. With a small animation and a creative customer approach, you create attention even without content blockers and leave a clearly sympathetic impression on users. And that is usually worth even more than the pure data set.

Summary: The underestimated importance of cookie consent optimization

Even if the golden age of cookies seems to be over: with the right strategies and a customer-centric approach, the small data packets remain an important factor in online marketing, even in times of the GDPR.

But user consent is no longer a matter of course today. This is where real persuasion is needed today. However, with a creative mindset and a customer-centric way of thinking, not only can cookie crumbs be successfully collected – the change in perspective also provides further insights that often turn out to be the real cake in the end. 

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André Wehr

André Wehr

About Me

As a founder and entrepreneur, I experience on a daily basis how important customer centricity is for companies.

Incorporate the essential perspective of the customer into your product genesis and marketing processes. That is what puts horsepower on the road, that it runs.


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