Best Practices for Conversion Tracking Without Third-Party Cookies
This article will cover:
- What Are First- and Third-Party Cookies?
- Why Are Browsers Focused on Privacy?
- How to Maintain Accurate Measurement Despite Browser Restrictions
- What Are the Best Practices for Conversion Tracking Without Third-Party Cookies?
- Do I Need to Do Anything Specific for Chrome, Safari and Firefox?
What Are First- and Third-Party Cookies?
CAKE’s most commonly used tracking method to determine campaign performance and attribution relies on the cookies CAKE sets in the browser and the matching HTML pixels retrieving them in order to store conversions in the CAKE platform.
Cookies: A text based file placed on your computer to store and transmit information to the server of websites (re)visited from that computer’s browser
First-party cookies are stored by the domain (website) you are visiting directly. They allow website owners to collect data for analytics, remember language settings, and perform other useful functions that help provide a good user experience. CAKE sets first-party cookies in the browser
Third-party cookies are created by domains other than the one you are visiting directly, hence the name third-party. They are used for cross-site tracking, retargeting and ad-serving
CAKE sets first-party and third-party cookies, however, both types of cookies are becoming more restricted with recent legislation regarding privacy.
Why Are Browsers Focused on Privacy?
Laws surrounding the internet and privacy are more prevalent than ever. For example, the General Data Protection Regulation (GDPR) affected how 3 of the worlds most used browsers treat or rather, block, first- and third-party tracking cookies:
Apple’s Intelligent Tracking Prevention (ITP) on Safari detects tracking capabilities and blocks any cookies associated with that domain.
Firefox Enhanced Tracking Prevention (ETP) blocks third-party tracking software, including third-party and first-party tracking cookies.
Google Chrome 80 provides improved controls for consumers to block or clear cookies used in a third-party context.
How to Maintain Accurate Measurement Despite Browser Restrictions
Today, you may rely heavily on cookies to track conversions and dictate attribution, however cookie based tracking is becoming increasingly unreliable and is not a best practice. It’s difficult to accurately measure your campaigns if the browsers being used by consumers are blocking cookies. Now is the time to refocus your efforts. Here are a few approaches you can use in CAKE today to accurately measure campaign performance which don’t require third-party cookies.
What Are the Best Practices for Conversion Tracking Without Third-Party Cookies?
Most commonly known as “server-to-server tracking,” but also referred to as “postback tracking,” this approach requires an advanced marketing measurement platform that can assign a unique ID to an anonymous consumer’s interaction.
In place of a cookie, a click ID or session ID, (in CAKE known as the CAKE Request ID) can be stored server-side, or in the advertiser’s first-party cookie, until the point of conversion.
Since any measurement platform that supports this type of tracking will use its own unique IDs in place of cookies, it is an increasingly popular approach to meet both performance tracking and data privacy demands. Additionally, since server-to-server tracking does not rely on cookies which can be cleared by the consumer or blocked by customer browser settings, it’s a highly accurate approach for measuring performance.
Though this option is easier to implement than server-to-server tracking using Postback URLs, it still requires the use of a first-party session cookie which is susceptible to browser restrictions. Also, note that it requires that you place a click pixel on the landing page of an offer in addition to the conversion pixel (JSSDK) on the thank-you page.
Bonus: Fingerprint Tracking
While first-party cookies and cookieless tracking can accurately measure performance the majority of the time, fingerprint tracking can be a useful tool to supplement those efforts. It serves as a valuable strategy to ensure nothing slips through the cracks with the deterministic tracking methods you have in place, especially for areas such as the walled gardens and cross-device user behavior that can be difficult to measure with absolute certainty.
Also known as “session tracking” or “probabilistic tracking,” fingerprint tracking is a probabilistic approach to attributing customer actions back to digital advertisements they interacted with. You can use this to achieve the best guess as to the performance of marketing campaigns and dollars.
Fingerprint tracking attempts to match the consumer’s interaction with the ad to their conversion, such as a request for more information, through various attributes such as the device or browser used. It offers you another privacy-friendly approach, as you don’t need to store any data that would risk consumers’ right to anonymity.
Do I Need to Do Anything Specific for Chrome, Safari and Firefox?
You may also be interested in:
CAKE Blog: CAKE Best Practices for Accurate Measurement (without Cookie Tracking)
Video: Cookieless Conversion Tracking in CAKE Using a Postback URL