Is this the way the cookie crumbles? Alternative tracking solutions for the “private web”
In August 2019, Google announced plans to “build a more private web” through an initiative they called the Privacy Sandbox. Then in January of this year, they announced their intentions to make third party cookies obsolete. The news sent shockwaves through the digital marketing industry as the implications became apparent. In this piece, AFFINITY’s Edward Park takes a look at what’s since become known as the “Cookiepocalypse,” the implications for tracking and measuring digital performance, and the rise and rise of Zero-Party Data.
The need to effectively track and measure digital performance has always been important, but as brands continue to adopt multi-channel strategies and develop more sophisticated marketing campaigns it’s become increasingly critical.
One facet of this that’s experienced much discussion of late thanks to Google’s January announcement, is the current status of cookie tracking. A subject that many marketers are now referring to as the “Cookiepocalypse.”
And while there are plenty of articles online dissecting this topic, understanding the implications for digital performance measurement are less clear cut. But before providing our perspective on this, we thought a brief snapshot of cookie tracking over the years was in order.
Back to Basics
Pixels and cookies are terms heavily featured throughout the topic of tracking. A quick refresher tells us that a pixel (or a ‘tag’) is a line of code put into the backend of a website, allowing the host brand to collect data from user behaviours and actions. The pixel is the fundamental basis of website measurement, helping determine where site visitors are coming from, which channels are driving the most traffic, and whether people are taking the desired actions once there.
A cookie is a product of an activated pixel. It’s a file that’s dropped within a user’s browser from the visited website. Remembering items saved in a cart, saved login information, shortcuts to past orders are all a result of cookies – the purpose of which is to create a more personalised experience.
However, not all cookies are equal. It’s important to distinguish between the two main types, namely first-party and third-party cookies. Both play similar roles but are collected and used in different ways.