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Cookieless tracking: The potential impact on the world of advertising

Cookiless tracking

Tracking cookies is a vital part of advertising. It’s really not a secret at this point, but those valuable insights into what a user is looking at or interested in on the internet have helped advertisers make ads and target relevant audiences for years now.

That being said, the news of the imminent cookieless tracking crisis has left a lot of businesses and advertisers feeling like they’re backed into a corner. Data privacy laws and regulations are being put into place that will prevent advertisers from viewing and using user data.

Although it’s not the most ideal situation, there are a few things we can count on, and a few workarounds that we know about at the moment. The aim of this article is not to scare you, but to inspire you to make the most of our new cookieless world. Without further ado, let’s get started with the question that’s looming on everyone’s mind as we march forward into a cookieless future.

How to track without cookies

Cookieless tracking sounds fairly impossible. After all, cookies were invented pretty much for that sole purpose. In a cookieless world, there’s nothing to track. There is no longer a trail of breadcrumbs leading the advertiser to the audience. So how’s it done?

Well, before we dive into the details, it’s important to distinguish the difference between the types of cookies: 1st, 2nd, and 3rd party.

What are first-party cookies?

First-party cookies are created and managed by the publisher of a website, on said website. These cookies are created and used to remember website users’ preferences while visiting a specific website. Settings like language and light/dark modes are good examples of this. If, for example, you have Dark Mode activated on YouTube, the cookies that track that preference will not be transferred between websites. Instead, you have to manually activate Dark Mode on each website that you visit, if it’s offered.

What are second-party cookies?

Second-party cookies are cookies that are simply transferred from one company to another in a collective data partnership. The perfect example of this is when a bank or credit union sells first-party data to a credit card company. The credit card company can then use said it to accurately target audiences, and better understand who qualifies for a credit card, and who doesn’t. Because this data is sold for targeted advertising purposes, it is classified as second-party.

What are third-party cookies?

Third-party cookies are the cookies that are being done away with. These cookies are collected as you travel from website to website, gathering information about your preferences, interests, and habits. For many people, sharing information like this is concerning, which is exactly why the GDPR and CCPA have decided to step in and regulate third-party cookies.

GDPR-data-privacy

Saying goodbye to third-party cookies

The use of third-party cookies in advertising has provided a solid foundation for marketing teams for years. Unfortunately, Consumer Privacy Acts like GDPR and CCPA are making active efforts to further protect user data by making it unobtainable to advertisers, at least not without consent and full transparency.

Major platforms like Firefox and Apple have already done away with third-party cookies, and have made their way towards ITP2.2 and ETP. This is done by completely blocking third-party cookies entirely.

As the reality of the cookieless world hits, Google has announced that they will be taking the steps to block third-party cookie tracking as well. At the time of this article, Google has announced that it delayed its plan to phase out third-party cookies in the Chrome browser until 2023 (so a year later than the original timeline). By doing away with third-party cookies, a lot will be affected, and not in a good way. It will affect a company’s ability to target the following fields:

  • Behavioral Targeting
  • Audience Targeting
  • Ad Retargeting
  • Frequency Capping
  • Audience extension
  • View-through Attribution

Cookieless tracking solutions

With everything above being said, we all have to ask ourselves: What does the cookieless world have in store for us next? The answer to that really isn’t as clear as we’d hope. Although there are plenty of companies out there looking for solutions and tools to help with this situation, right now, we all have to kind of use what we know. We’ll get into tools in a moment, for now, let’s discuss some temporary workarounds.

  • Using first-party data

Although it’s not nearly as insightful, first-party data can be used from CRM tools, web traffic, and generic in-app data. This data is collected primarily from users that have already shown some sort of interest in your specific product, but it is definitely better than nothing, and it will still help with conversions.

LeadsBridge makes this connection automatic with easy integrations between your CRM and Facebook Custom Audiences, LinkedIn Remarketing, and Google Audiences.

  • Contextual advertising

Contextual advertising is essentially targeted advertising specifically for advertisements that appear on websites and other media. This includes content displayed in mobile browsers. In contextual advertising (or context advertising) media is controlled based on the content of the website using linguistic elements. Essentially, advertisements that appear on the webpage are related in some way to the content of the page.

contextual-offers-nyt-example
  • Whitelisting

Whitelisting consists of targeting a list of domains, channels, and even apps that are relevant to the industry, and making the user see ads populating on the site. Periodical maintenance and optimization would help to increase the conversion rate in this case.

Cookieless advertising on Facebook

For a long time now, tracking Facebook Ads Campaigns was as simple as plugging in a few lines of Javascript code and allowing Facebook Pixel to do the rest. Unfortunately, with the rise in data privacy laws, and the lack of third-party data, this will no longer be the case in our new cookieless world.

Fortunately, Facebook still has an answer, and it’s called Facebook Conversions API, or CAPI for short. This tool was created in response to Pixel’s decreasing reliability but works in unison with it. Here’s how it works with a simple infographic.

What Is Facebook Conversions API

As you can see with this process is fairly simple. Customers’ actions, signals, and events are so precious. Browser data, Pixel, and cookie-based technologies have been working great for years. However, we are moving towards a new era, where cookies and browser data are no longer as effective for tracking purposes as they were.

Thanks to its integration capabilities, LeadsBridge is able to establish a server-based connection between the marketing stack and the Facebook Business Event Manager without coding.

As an advertiser, you will be able to directly connect your CRM, Website, Ecommerce, Call center, mobile app, and any other systems with Facebook, making cookies unnecessary.

Regardless of the variety of systems that you use, LeadsBridge is able to retrieve, centralize and dispatch data to Facebook via a reliable server connection avoiding interruptions and loss of data.

With the combination of Conversions API and LeadsBridge, the advertisers can leverage a reliable server-based connection, gain a granular understanding of the customers’ journey across multiple online and offline channels, and get a better grip on cookieless advertising.

Below are some of the integrations:

  • ActiveCampaign integrations with Facebook Conversions API
  • Zoho CRM integrations with Facebook Conversions API
  • HubSpot integrations with Facebook Coversions API

Attribution without cookies

In the next few years, cookies will disappear because of the privacy changes started by Apple and the changes made by Facebook and Google in user-level tracking. Many channels that marketers are using to collect data will become obsolete. This is the reason why marketers are now looking for ways to do attribution without cookies. They are preparing for a cookieless world and data privacy. The truth is, the end of cookies doesn’t signify the end of the track. However, there are alternative ways you can follow to get data for your campaigns.

As said above, Leadsbridge provides a solution for attribution without cookies: that is our integration for Facebook CAPI. You can read more about it here. With LeadsBridge and Facebook Conversions API, you can share your data easily. With it, you can track conversions such as leads, phone calls, purchases, email subscriptions, etc.

Secondly, focus on first-party data. Collect them by giving them something in exchange for the information. Connected TV is also an alternative you can consider. They can give you accurate data to understand the buying decisions of users.

Retargeting without cookies

Retargeting is a way to re-engage website users who have interacted with your business. Retargeting ads are profitable. Wishpond‘s research revealed that the average CTR for retargeting Ads is 10 times higher than regular display ads.

However, most advertisers use third-party cookies for ad retargeting. Remember, third-party cookies are going to be obsolete soon. So, how do you do retargeting without cookies? The good news is, retargeting is still possible without using cookies. One thing you can do to achieve this is to use a landing page for your ad campaign. Run the campaign and send users to the landing page. Thereafter, you can run a retargeting campaign for the visitors that came to the landing page. This is an efficient and effective way of retargeting because you are re-engaging people who may likely convert.

What does the cookieless future hold?

The future of cookieless attribution is a scary one, but nothing that can’t be figured out. The cookieless tracking techniques that we have now will only evolve, and the more we learn, the better our methods and strategies will become.

In addition to the methods listed above, there are some ways to work around it, but nothing is as headache-free as using third-party cookies. For years now, analog methods for measuring cookies have been available, they just aren’t the go-to. And it’s for good reason.

In marketing the word analog instantly raises a red flag. Analog means more time, effort, and even money. The reason a lot of companies even exist is to automate these processes, LeadsBridge being one of them.

Fortunately, it’s not all lost. With the power of LeadsBridge and CAPI, targeted advertising through Facebook doesn’t have to be difficult or analog. In fact, it’s quite an easy process that has helped companies land tons of leads, all automatically.

Conclusions and takeaways

For years now, advertisers have relied on third-party cookies to accurately target and retarget their audiences. And although the cookieless world might seem like a daunting future, in reality, it will be okay.

For ultimate control over this cookieless tracking situation, the combination of LeadsBridge and Facebook Conversions API is unbeatable. Not only can you automate the process, but you can rest assured that all data transfers are both GDPR and CCPA compliant.

If you’d like to request a demo to better understand how LeadsBridge can set your Facebook Ad Campaigns on autopilot, then be sure to reach out to us. We have a dedicated support team ready to help you and guide you through the entire process.

Zachary McDaniel