It's one thing to track your target customers' online activities and movements. It's another thing to build a profile about them so you gain even more specific insights into their needs and desires.
With browser fingerprinting, you'll be able to build a more detailed customer avatar and provide more targeted, successful marketing than ever before.
But what is browser fingerprinting, and how does it work? Let us explain all the details about browser fingerprints below.
Think of a browser fingerprint as the collection of settings, data points, and other elements that mark a specific user as unique.
Like real-world fingerprints, browser fingerprints can identify people or, more generally, specific devices used to access brand websites or apps.
Browser fingerprinting, put simply, is a tracking technique that discreetly gathers device and software settings through a visitor/user’s Internet browser.
By gathering enough setting information and data points, companies and trackers can build an identity or fingerprint for that specific visitor. It’s very similar to device fingerprinting as a method.
By gathering information about a user through their browser, companies can take that information and:
How does it work? Whenever you visit a website, your Internet browser gives the hosting server some information to ensure your experience goes smoothly. These include your device's model and specs, language layout (e.g., English, French, Italian), time zone, and software versions.
These settings are relatively innocuous, but they repeatedly appear across many different websites when put together. By tracking that information, a company can recognize “you” as a distinct user visiting their sites. You can also do this for your own customers or site visitors.
Even though there are tens of billions of connected devices worldwide, browser fingerprinting can be highly advantageous and accurate.
Device scripts are so good at finding pieces of information, like whether a user leverages an ad blocker, that it’s possible to recognize repeat visitors or site users repeatedly over many months or years.
Say that you receive a new site visitor to your online store. They accept your terms for browser fingerprinting data, so your business starts to collect data on them.
You gather data like:
Once you have all that information, your software compiles it into a user profile. Your system recognizes returning users and provides personalized ads based on their prior page views and cart items.
When used smartly and adequately, browser fingerprinting has the potential to provide significant benefits for you and your customers.
Companies use browser fingerprinting for lots of different reasons.
As mentioned above, browser fingerprinting can be used to identify repeat users. Then, you can use that information for better, more successful marketing and personalization efforts, such as personalized offers and advertisements for products a specific visitor will likely buy.
However, companies also use browser fingerprinting for security purposes. Online fraudsters may steal legitimate users’ personal information to impersonate them, either to make illegitimate transactions or to try to breach digital security measures.
If you use browser fingerprinting, you can determine whether a user is who they say they are.
For example, say you receive a new login alert for a consistent shopper. However, your browser fingerprinting software indicates that they are on a completely different device and, more importantly, browsing your website in a completely different language.
That’s a huge red flag that the user’s personal information has been stolen, and you should alert them to that possibility ASAP.
This way, browser fingerprinting helps keep you and your customers safe and secure against many cyber attacks.
Lastly, browser fingerprinting can be used for privacy goals. If you handle sensitive information online, such as payment data, you can use browser fingerprinting to make sure the payment data’s actual owner is the one making the transaction.
You can also leverage browser fingerprinting data to ensure the transaction stays secure, private, and personal.
Not exactly. Cookies and browser fingerprints are methods of tracking individual users, but the methods are entirely different.
Cookies, for example, are heavily regulated by legislation such as the GDPR and CCPA. They’re even slated to be phased out shortly. Cookies are also best understood as small bits of software users pick up when visiting websites.
They are stored locally on those users’ machines, like PCs and mobile devices. When users visit sites, their stored cookies activate to provide companies with further information or tracking data.
In addition, cookies can be deleted by users. But there’s no way to delete browser fingerprints. As a result, companies can use browser fingerprinting to track users over time, so long as they have those users’ permission.
However, if you do get user permission to track them with browser fingerprints, good news; you can continue to track those users in perpetuity and continually evolve your security efforts. This is a great way to ensure that longtime users are legitimate, as they’re often some of the most common targets for fraud schemes.
That depends on your country and where your customers come from. Legislation like the GDPR and CCPA requires companies to get the consent of users for fingerprinting data.
So, for example, if you want to use browser fingerprinting to track your users for marketing purposes, you must ask them specifically. If they don’t give consent, you can’t track their data.
Furthermore, companies must only collect data for reasonable, legitimate purposes, not “just because.” Therefore, you must store your users’ data securely and carefully and use it for legitimate purposes. If you follow all of these rules, browser fingerprinting is legal.
Ultimately, a browser fingerprint lets you track visitors' movements and activities far better than a standard cookie. It’s an exceptionally powerful tool to improve and constantly iterate on your online marketing campaigns.
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