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Leave Cookies for Santa; Cookieless Tracking is the Future!

Data giants, including major social media applications and search engines, have been using cookies to track users and collect their data for years now. However, individuals and companies around the world are becoming more and more aware of privacy concerns and are growing increasingly interested in knowing how to protect their own privacy in today’s digital landscape.

These changes in user behavior and the resulting privacy regulations have paved the way to a new era in marketing: that of cookieless tracking. Due to the reduction in third-party cookies, many marketers are looking for new ways to market their products to their target audience.

Users are likely to be hesitant to accept third-party cookies in today’s digital landscape due to security and privacy concerns.

Enacting cookieless tracking would enable you to be ahead of the curve and optimize your marketing strategy at a time when most digital marketers are struggling to keep up with attribution. In this article, you’ll learn why you should leave third-party cookies in the past, where they belong, and how your company can easily enact the shift to cookieless tracking.

GDPR and the rise of cookieless tracking

When we talk about cookieless tracking, we really just mean the elimination of third-party cookies. You’ll still be using first-party cookies, which remain integral to marketers due to the ease they offer prospects and clients. First-party cookies allow users to take advantage of autofill options on the browser, for instance, but no one apart from you and the user can view their information.

So who uses third-party cookies? It’s usually advertisers who want to target your users. A visitor to a certain website gets a cookie, as does the website itself. Third-party cookies means that the website allows advertisers to gain access to the cookie. The more information the advertiser gets about a user, the greater insight they’ll have into their target audience’s behavior. 

If the same advertiser has third-party cookies on multiple websites–many of which the user visits–they get complex, holistic insights into user activity and can market themselves aggressively.

Users are more aware of digital security now than ever before, and have their privacies protected by regulations like the GDPR.

As you can imagine, the way that consumer data has been handled and shared in the past with third-party advertisers has caused widespread uproar among users. Although third-party cookies have been around since the advent of online advertising, of late, users are growing more concerned about how their data is stored, handled, and sold–especially if it’s without their consent. Ensuring users’ privacy and safety is of paramount importance. 

Most search engines and browsers have therefore decided to eliminate third-party cookies altogether. Moreover, new privacy protection regulations like the General Data Protection Regulation (GDPR) are making it more difficult for websites to provide advertisers with third-party cookies. For websites to comply with the GDPR, they have to give users the right to opt out of third-party cookies and data collection, thereby deleting their information from the website permanently.

In order to comply with your state’s regulations and protect your clients by storing and using their data ethically, cookieless tracking is your best bet. 

What are the major differences between cookie-based and cookieless tracking?

Online advertisers have been using third-party cookies for nearly three decades, so it stands to follow that it’s offered companies immense opportunities for growth in the past. Cookies have allowed companies to track and analyze consumer behavior and revolutionize users’ buying experiences through dedicated personalization

All these advantages for the company result in a drawback for users: their privacies are compromised, their personal data is scattered in bits and pieces all across the landscape of the internet, and their information is sold from tech company to tech company. 

In contrast, cookieless tracking enables you to track relevant user metrics while ensuring your users are anonymous. Instead of obtaining fragmented data about a myriad of users, you can draw deep insights about users who are firmly within your target audience using cookieless data. These insights and the decisions you make based on them can help you make the sales funnel more efficient. 

However, every method of tracking users has its particular disadvantages. With cookieless tracking, tracking across sessions isn’t possible, thereby making behavioral segmentation more difficult. This makes personalization harder, too. You’ll also find it challenging to segment based on usage frequency.

Tracking with third-party cookies

Cookieless tracking

Requires consent under GDPR

Complies with GDPR

Easy behavioral segmentation

Harder to segment audience

Fragments user data and can therefore provide you with irrelevant data

Tracks only your target audience’s data, making it easier to draw sales insights

Does not protect user privacy in an ethical manner

Protects user privacy and ensures user data is processed ethically

Easy personalization of the buying experience for users

Relatively difficult to personalize the buying experience

Users are identified

Users are anonymous

How does going cookieless affect tracking?

Hint: it changes tracking for the better.

Let’s break down how.

Cookieless tracking definitely changes a lot of what marketers know about digital advertising. The foremost of these changes is the difference in attribution between third-party cookie-based tracking and cookieless tracking. In the last few years, marketers have favored multi-touch attribution, wherein you can see which touchpoints contributed to particular sales. 

Multi-touch attribution offers marketers a holistic understanding of engaged prospects and clients, including their specific needs and behaviors. However, with cookieless tracking, marketers have to step up and find different ways to track how much a touchpoint or contribution affects a sale.

Third-party cookies are particularly useful when it comes to retargeting, too, since they can track users across multiple sites. Marketing and advertising teams now have to make the shift to contextual advertising in place of third-party cookie tracking. 

Contextual advertising plays on the user’s interests based on their website activity. The targeting is a feature of the web page itself; if, for instance, you provide antivirus services for mobile devices, you could ask mobile phone gaming websites for ad space so visitors to the websites would be able to see your services directly. 

This data-informed method of advertising eliminates the privacy concerns that third-party cookies raise. It targets audiences through using information about their particular mutual interests instead of tracking them across websites to pin down their identities and browsing habits. It’s a simple idea that produces results while remaining ethically sound and GDPR compliant.

It’s definitely more difficult to gauge user intent and identify which user segments your marketing messaging is reaching when it comes to contextual advertising. Even with cookieless tracking, you’ll need to utilize user-specific retargeting through trusted opt-in channels. Marketers that adapt to new regulations sooner rather than later will find their businesses being change leaders within their industries while winning the trust of prospects.

Embrace cookieless attribution and analytics with HockeyStack

Cookieless attribution still requires you to track key metrics and understand user touchpoints. Using HockeyStack for your SaaS company’s analytics helps you see which of your materials prospects are responding well to and which channels generate the most sales.

HockeyStack’s dashboard showing different sources and how much they contribute to sales.

You’ll be able to understand user touchpoints and whether these elicit interactions with your sales team. HockeyStack makes it easier for you to understand the extent to which each touchpoint and interaction affects the final sale–all without using third-party cookies and remaining compliant to local and international privacy regulations.

A graph from HockeyStack’s marketing dashboard visualizing conversion rates and drop-offs.

With HockeyStack’s dashboards, you can also work on optimizing your marketing strategy, since you’ll be able to see what percentage of prospects are dropping off at each stage of the conversion funnel. These insights will help you understand your leads’ pain points and needs, thereby leading to more conversions down the road.

Do you want to know more about HockeyStack’s cookieless attribution and analytics services? Check out the live demo yourself to see how it solves your user tracking problems.


What is a cookieless solution?

A cookieless solution tracks user activity without utilizing third-party cookies that share user information across websites, thereby ensuring user security and privacy. 

How would companies be impacted in a cookieless world?

Many companies will have to adjust to new marketing methods, such as switching from a multi-touch attribution model to a contextual advertising model. It’s also harder to segment user data with cookieless tracking. However, cookieless tracking ensures that the user information you obtain is more relevant to your company. Companies also have to ask for consent to track website users to remain compliant with regulations such as the GDPR.

What does cookieless tracking mean?

Cookieless tracking uses methods such as opt-in channels to retarget users, as opposed to third-party cookies that track users across websites on the internet. 

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