Cookie technology had recently become the industry’s punching bag, like if all the industry’s bad practices are tied to this one technology. Everyone expects cookieless tracking to be the universal solution to all problems of digital marketing, like gluten-free food was supposed to be the ultimate cure for all diseases of civilization.
Was it? I don’t know, I never tried it.
Cookie technology has its problems and it simply does not stand to modern standards. The overarching trends are bigger than all of us. It’s better to adjust to them.
How do you adjust for the cookieless future? With cookieless tracking, of course.
Is it possible? Yes, of course. If you are a Voluum user, you already can use it.
Is it necessary at this moment? No, not yet. But it will be sooner than you think.
Should you be worried? No. You should read this article to learn more about how cookies are used in tracking, what the lack of support for cookies will mean for the advertising industry and how Voluum is already prepared for the future. This is much more productive than being worried.
Cookies are small text files left by the web browser to store information about a user session. They were used to save such information as web page language settings, text fields that were filled previously or the contents of a shopping cart.
They were usually used by the web page that you were currently on. Such cookies are usually referred to as 1st party cookies.
1st party cookies are calling the same domain name that you are currently visiting. So if you are on the CNN.com site, 1st party cookies make requests (“call”) to the CNN.com domain.
The other type of cookies are 3rd party cookies that call other domains. In our example, a 3rd party cookie would call the anotherdomain.com domain while a user is visiting the CNN.com page.
Calling 3rd party domains had become the root cause of all controversies with cookie technology.
Usually 3rd party cookies are used to call various analytical, behavioural measurement and ad tracking platforms. With the growing emphasis on privacy and user control over their own data, such calls to unknown domains are, well, problematic.
When a user visits the CNN.com website, he or she can expect that CNN will record some information about their movements. If a user doesn’t trust CNN, they can choose not to visit it. Simple.
But a typical user has very little knowledge and control over the information that goes to 3rd party domains. This type of cookie can collect various identification data that allows advertisers to locate individual users across the web.
The problem is that 3rd party cookies are used to varying extents. Some advertisers use it mainly for conversion attribution (so understanding which ad brought which results), while many others create complete shopping profiles of each single user to the point where their sense of privacy is violated.
Voluum is an ad tracker with the main purpose of enabling advertisers to increase the performance of their ads. It doesn’t profile users, it doesn’t track their movements on websites that are outside the campaign funnel.
Voluum sets this cookie when a visitor clicks an ad and if no referrer data is avaialble, it will take the ID from this cookie.
The shift towards the more privacy-oriented Internet
The cookie technology is a victim of the world-wide shift started by governments and companies alike that aim to give more control to users over their data.
The latest victim is the IDFA, and more specifically, a blocked by default access to this Apple’s ID for advertisers for third-party apps.
As we have described it in our article about the iOS 14.5 update, this does not affect Voluum users at all but can affect traffic sources they use.
Demise of 3rd party cookies is just part of this bigger trend. There will likely be some other changes for advertisers connected with it.
State of the industry
Because privacy issues and safety are more important to growing numbers of users, tech companies have put 3rd party cookies in their crosshairs.
As of May 2021, the industry looks as follows:
- 3rd party cookies are blocked by default on Safari since March 2020
- They are also blocked by default by Mozilla to some extent
- Google Chrome, the web browser with the biggest market share, is set to phase out 3rd party cookies by 2022
Cookies seem to be doomed. But what does it mean for the whole advertising industry?
Cookies and advertisers
I can bet you that browsing the Internet in 2022, after Google disables 3rd party cookies, will not be much different from the experience we have today.
There are too many things at stake to let things go wrong.
The whole Internet relies on ads to provide users with free content. Users get stuff without paying, websites earn money, advertisers can show relevant products to people visiting pages, and cookies, (yes, 3rd party ones) enable just that.
So, there are already several approaches in development that aim to ensure that advertisers can continue to do their business effectively while user privacy is protected. In other words, companies like Google try to have a metaphorical cookie and eat it at the same time.
Google has proposed its FLoC (Federated Learning of Cohorts) idea that puts similar users into groups of at least 1,000 participants and allows advertisers to show their ads to this whole group, instead of individual users.
Although the idea of FloC has been universally panned, other companies are also working on different mechanisms that allow companies to track and profile users. It’s impossible to say right now which technique will be prevalent in 2022, but cookieless tracking is surely going to be a thing.
Cookieless tracking is not the name of any concrete feature but rather an idea of a mechanism that allows for user tracking across campaign funnels without cookie technology.
Cookieless visit and click tracking
This method of tracking uses scripts to make requests directly to Voluum. The relevant identifying information is passed in the Direct tracking URL that guides a visitor from an ad to a lander or offer.
The more details, along with the specific use scenarios can be found in one of our previous articles about direct tracking.
Cookieless conversion attribution
Conversion attribution requires conversion information to be passed from an offer to Voluum and connected with appropriate visit data.
Advertisers have often chosen the cookie-reliant conversion tracking pixel.
But Voluum offers a secure server-to-server postback technology that can immediately report conversions to Voluum. Postbacks are supported by the majority of affiliate networks and they are known for their reliability.
Passing conversion info to Facebook
The extension to the postbacks feature is an option to pass those conversions to Facebook.
People that don’t use Facebook for advertising may not be impressed, after all, the traffic source postback URL feature has been around for years. But if you have dealt with Facebook you would know that Facebook accepts conversions only from domains where ownership has been verified.
That’s a problem for marketers that use 3rd party offers.
Luckily Voluum has a solution for this. This solution allows you to verify any domain that you have control over in Facebook and then use it to generate postbacks and send them with conversion info.
Reliable tracking is the core of Voluum functionality but it is far from being the only one. Once you’ve set up cookieless tracking for your campaigns, you can integrate various traffic sources to your advantage to pass cost information via API.
Advanced real-time reporting with over 30 data points.
Collaboration tools with workspaces and various user roles.
And many others. All created to make making money easier.
Voluum on the forefront
The people behind Voluum have their fingers on the pulse of the industry. They monitor the situation and plan ahead to have their product always ready and working for its customers.
We have to be ahead of things because we simply cannot afford not to be.
Any past updates to the advertising industry have been announced ahead of time, giving plenty of time to develop countermeasures. If you stick with Voluum we can guarantee that you will always have a futureproof product.