Avoid Problems with Cookies: Set up Your Campaign Up For 1st Party Cookies

We’ve discussed how Voluum is ready for cookieless tracking and what the incoming cookie block will mean way back. 

Now, we want to give you the concrete method to set up your campaign in a way that will almost guarantee you that you will not be affected by the third party cookie block.

Wait, did we say “almost”?

Yes, there are various techniques that help browsers to determine which cookies are first party (and should not be blocked) and which ones are third party. Due to the evolving nature of these techniques, and some minor exemptions, we cannot give you 100% certainty that this setup will always work for all visitors. 

But with this setup, you have the best chances of getting there.

A Very Brief Recap on 3rd Party Cookies 

The whole fuss is about those cookies (which are small pieces of text left by the browser) that point to other domains, not the one that a user is currently visiting. We call those cookies 3rd party ones.

Because of privacy concerns, some browsers already block third party cookies, with the sure to do so soon. 

Affiliate ad trackers such as Voluum uses cookies as a backup solution for tracking visits and clicks with the redirect method. For tracking conversions with a conversion tracking pixel, cookies are necessary. Postbacks do not require cookies to work.

It’s worth noting that it’s up to a web browser to decide if those cookies will be treated as first or third party.

If you want to know more details on how this may affect affiliate campaign funnels, refer to the article about tracking after third party cookie demise again, but the short version is:

With the third party cookie block in place, they will not serve as the backup solution and click and visit tracking may break if the referrer data is lost. Additionally, conversion tracking with a conversion pixel will not work without a cookie.

There is a simple way of making sure your campaigns will still work:

Set up your campaign in a way that all of its cookies will be treated as a first party.

This method is the focus of this article.

What Are the Benefits of Our Method?

The main benefit is the ease of use that comes with the redirect method of tracking. Additionally, there are plenty perks to this method:

  • Hiding referrer data. Protect the details of your campaigns from affiliate networks by not passing referrer data to them.
  • Rule-base paths. Drive traffic to different paths based on visitors characteristics, such as: device type, country or other.
  • Landing page rotations. Show different landing pages to visitors to determine the best performing one.
  • Traffic Distribution AI: Employ artificial intelligence to handle traffic distribution in the most efficient way.

Additionally, if you haven’t used a custom domain before, you will get the enhanced security that comes with it. Think of a custom domain as a bulletproof vest to your dedicated domain. If your domain gets flagged as suspicious, it’s much easier to replace a custom domain than Voluum’s dedicated one.

What You Need For This Method To Work

To make this work, you will need to use a custom domain for tracking and for your landing page and, optionally, for a ‘Thank You’ page.

So firstly, pick up a domain from one of the domain providers, such as:

Once you do so, go to the next chapter.

The Setup

This setup process describes the steps needed for adding a custom domain to Voluum and configuring your landing pages and campaigns. If you’ve done the first part, you can go directly to step four.

Also, more detailed explanations on how to set up a custom domain with popular domain providers are available in our documentation.

Different Shapes of a Campaign Funnel

Depending on the shape of your campaign funnel, you will have two options that will also appear in the procedure below:

  • (Option 1) Applies to a funnel with a landing page and an offer: Same domain for  your landing page and (optionally, if you track conversions using a tracking pixel) a ‘Thank you’ page, for example ‘xyz.com’, with its subdomain ‘track.xyz.com’ used for tracking.
  • (Option 2) Applies to a funnel with an offer only: Same domain for tracking and an offer page and (optionally, if you track conversions using a tracking pixel) a ‘Thank you’ page, for example ‘xyz.com’, with its subdomain ‘track.xyz.com’ used for tracking.

Step 1: Create a Tracking Subdomain

Go to your domain provider’s control panel and create a subdomain for your custom domain. Name this subdomain something like “track”. So for example, if your custom domain that you have purchased is “xyz.com”, then your newly created subdomain would be “track.xyz.com”. 

Step 2: Create a CNAME record

The next thing to do is to point your tracking subdomain to your Voluum dedicated domain. Grab your dedicated domain’s name from Voluum and go to your domain provider’s control panel again. Look for the option to add a CNAME record that points to the Voluum dedicated domain.

Step 3: Add a Custom Domain to Voluum

Go to Voluum’s settings and look for the ‘Domains’ tab. Add this tracking subdomain name there.

Step 4 (Option 1): Set Up Your Landing Page And Offer Page With Your Domain

This applies to campaign funnels that use landing pages.

The landing page or offer page hosting provider has probably already supplied you with a domain. If it consists of random-generated characters, we usually recommend spending that few extra bucks to pick up a better domain name that is more in line with your product or brand. Such a domain name builds trust and reduces bounce rate.

Since you already have a domain name purchased (‘xyz.com’ in our example), you only need to set it up with your hosting service. Do this for your landing page. If you use your own offers and want to track conversions with a conversion tracking pixel, you also need to have the page where the conversion tracking pixel launches (it is usually referred to as ‘Thank you’ page) set with the same domain as lander.

An offer page usually has the same domain as the ‘Thank You’ page but it doesn’t have to.

If you use offers from an affiliate network, you can’t change a domain for the offer and ‘Thank You’ page anyway, so you should use the postback URL method to track conversions, if your affiliate network supports it.

Example:

  • Campaign URL: https://track.xyz.com/3ef3f3f3-3f3f-49af-f34f3459
  • Lander URL: https://xyz.com/lander
  • Click URL on lander with track.xyz.com domain
  • Offer URL: https//abc.com/offer (it can be different domain or the same, no matter)
  • ‘Thank You’ page: https://xyz.com/thank-you
  • Conversion Pixel on ‘Thank You’ page includes track.xyz.com domain

Step 4 (Option 2): Set up Your Offer Page With your Domain

When your campaign funnel doesn’t include a landing page, first party cookie tracking is possible only if you can set your own domain for the offer. This is possible if you are tracking your own offers, not ones from an affiliate network.

Set your offer page with your custom domain. If you intend to track conversions with a tracking pixel (and with your own offer you most likely will), you also need to set your ‘Thank you’ page with the same domain.

Example:

  • Campaign URL: https://track.xyz.com/3ef3f3f3-3f3f-49af-f34f3459
  • Offer URL: https//xyz.com/offer
  • ‘Thank You’ page: https://xyz.com/thank-you
  • Conversion Pixel on ‘Thank You’ page includes track.xyz.com domain

Step 5: Create a Campaign With Your Custom Domain

The last thing to do is to create a campaign as usual and select your custom domain as a tracking domain. If it’s not set as a default one in Voluum settings, you can select it when you create a campaign.

How Will This Work?

Option 1: 

A redirect campaign with a landing page, an offer page, and a “Thank You” page. Conversions tracked with a conversion tracking pixel. 

Setup: A landing page, offer page, and “Thank You” page use the same xyz.com domain and its track.xyz.com subdomain for tracking.

  1. A visitor clicks the ad and they are redirected through a tracking domain track.xyz.com to a landing page in a domain xyz.com. A cookie with visit info is saved. Because the domains in the campaign URL and lander URL match, this cookie is treated as first party.
  2. A visitor clicks the click URL under a CTA button on a landing page. A click ID is assigned and a cookie with this click ID is created. A visitor is directed through a tracking domain track.xyz.com to an offer page (that can use any domain). Because this cookie points to the same domain xyz.com as the one a visitor is currently on, this cookie is treated as first party.
  3. A visitor converts on an offer page and is redirected to a “Thank You” page in a domain xyz.com.
  4. The “Thank You” page is loaded. The conversion tracking pixel with a domain track.xyz.com launches and gets the click ID data from a cookie.

Option 2: 

A redirect campaign with an offer only, with a ‘Thank You’ page that has a conversion tracking pixel implemented.

Setup: Offer page and ‘Thank You’ page have the same domain xyz.com, with its track.xyz.com subdomain used for tracking.

  1. A visitor clicks the ad and they are redirected through a tracking domain track.xyz.com to an offer page in a domain xyz.com. This saves a cookie with visit info and click ID value.
  2. A visitor converts on an offer page and is redirected to a “Thank You” page in a domain xyz.com.
  3. The “Thank You” page is loaded. The conversion tracking pixel with a domain track.xyz.com launches and gets the click ID data from a cookie.

The Simplest Solutions Are The Best

This one easy trick – to use one domain consequently for tracking and for your pages – is all it takes to be safe from any third party cookie blocks. There are no real plans to disable all cookies, so you are safe for years to come.

Get Voluum and track your campaigns with a peace of mind

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