The Cookieless tracking…

… facts & challenges for marketers

With the deletion of cookies, a new challenge is emerging: cookieless tracking. This presents marketers with new obstacles to overcome in their search for insights to improve acquisition.

However, gone are the days when the cookie served as a beacon, guiding marketers through the multitude of online user data. In addition, privacy concerns have grown and regulatory changes have intervened. So far, the once-trusted cookie has begun to crumble. Quite simply, the era of cookieless tracking has begun.

What’s more, in these new digital domains, all digital marketers are faced with an unprecedented situation. And the way forward is to adopt alternative tracking methods, innovate and reshape marketing strategies for a cookie-free future.

Be sure to join us. We’ll be unveiling the mysteries of cookie-free tracking. You’ll also discover the approaches and tools that are emerging to meet the ever-changing needs of digital marketers.

What is cookieless tracking?

What is a cookie? 🍪

Traditionally, cookies have played an essential role in tracking user browsing, providing essential information about their behavior. However, this data, stored on users’ devices, makes it possible to personalize ads and offer tailored online experiences. However, due to growing concerns about privacy and data protection, the new era of cookies is gradually and clearly coming to an end.

Why are cookies coming to an end?

Furthermore, cookie-free tracking represents a real break with the use of cookies as a basic and primary means of collecting global user data. It’s all about adopting innovative methodologies that prioritize privacy protection. Rather than relying on third-party cookies, which are increasingly restricted and refused by users. Until now, cookie-free tracking has relied on possible alternative technologies and various approaches to gathering clear information.

Contextual targeting

This simply involves analyzing the overall content and context of various web pages. In order to deliver relevant advertising to end-users. However, by simply deciphering the real meaning and obvious intent behind the content, digital marketers can deliver tailored, personalized messages without infringing on users’ privacy.

Cookieless tracking : First Party Data

Another very promising part of the “cookieless” landscape is the use of First Party Data. First-party data refers to information collected directly by a company from its audience – whether customers or website visitors.

The term “first-party” refers to the entity that collects and uses this data. This information, coming from consumers who have already shown an interest in the brand, is generally more reliable and relevant for defining target audiences, enabling predictive analyses and a better understanding of user behavior.

First-party data can include :

  1. Profile data, which is socio-demographic information helping to identify the target.
  2. Behavioral data, derived from users’ actions on the website, applications, social networks, or when using the product.
  3. Customer feedback, which provides valuable feedback for improving products and/or services, and focusing on strengths.

This data can be collected via cookies, traditional surveys and satisfaction questionnaires, or through direct interaction with prospects and customers.

In addition, various advanced technologies such as machine learning and artificial intelligence (AI) are emerging into the limelight. They offer amazingly sophisticated solutions for audience segmentation, predictive modeling and optimization of various campaigns. However, by harnessing the power of these unique, cutting-edge tools, digital marketers can simply unlock deep insights and unearth various hidden patterns, even in the absence of these cookies.

Major challenges in cookieless tracking

Audience identification and attribution

As a paid media agency, we find that simply identifying and attributing user interactions across different devices and platforms can be a major challenge for our customers. However, all marketers are faced with fragmented data and the need for accurate and valid cross-device tracking solutions. Quite simply, they need to gain a comprehensive understanding of their audience’s overall journey. However, without a holistic view, it becomes difficult to optimize individual marketing campaigns. It’s simply a matter of allocating resources and attributing conversions accordingly and accurately.

Limited data availability with cookieless tracking

However, with the disappearance of third-party cookies, marketers are faced with a loss of user data. Until now, this limitation has hampered their overall ability to understand customer preferences, target specific segments and, eventually, personalize experiences very effectively. In addition, the use of alternative data sources and first-party data obtained with user consent is becoming crucial to filling this major gap.

Measurement & Analytics

The move towards cookie-free tracking is disrupting established measurement methods and various analytics frameworks. It’s becoming more difficult to accurately measure campaign performance, determine exact ROI and optimize strategies. Until now, exploring new measurement methodologies, leveraging various advanced analytics tools and investing in diverse data modeling techniques have become essential to extract actionable insights.

Privacy compliance

As data privacy regulations tighten and expand worldwide, marketers must navigate a highly visible and complex web of compliance requirements. Striking the right balance between delivering personalized experiences and respecting users’ privacy demands careful attention. In addition, robust consent mechanisms must be guaranteed, data protection principles and guidelines adhered to, and smooth, transparent data practices established. These elements are more than essential to building trust with customers & consumers.

Advertising fraud and brand security

The presence of cookies could also pose a risk of advertising fraud. The challenge was to identify fraudulent activities. i.e. cookie stuffing.

Retargeting & Personalization

Retargeting, a popular strategy for simply reaching users who have just expressed a general interest, used to rely heavily on cookies. However, as their role diminishes, digital marketers need to explore and find intelligent alternative methods. In order to effectively retarget and personalize users’ overall experiences across various possible touchpoints. Moreover, simply overcoming this major challenge really does require intelligently exploring new methods and techniques. For example, it can be leveraging first-party data, contextual retargeting and implementing dynamic content personalization.

Collaboration & Standardization

Navigating and exploring the cookieless landscape requires proper collaboration between the various stakeholders. However, the lack of standardized approaches and varying interpretations of the various privacy regulations simply pose major problems for the establishment of industry-wide standards.

Education and skills development

The age of cookieless tracking introduces new technologies, methodologies and best practices. However, digital marketers are generally faced with the challenge of simply staying up to date. Digital marketers are generally faced with the challenge of staying up-to-date, keeping up with the latest developments and acquiring the necessary skills. To simply navigate this ever-changing landscape.

Data fragmentation & Silos

Until now, the absence of universal tracking mechanisms has led to data fragmentation and silos. However, digital marketers generally find it difficult to consolidate data from different sources and platforms. What’s more, this hinders their overall ability to gain a comprehensive understanding and knowledge of customer behavior and preferences. However, breaking down these different data silos through advanced, robust data integration strategies and using customer data platforms (CDPs) is becoming crucial to gaining a holistic view of the customer journey.

Adapting acquisition strategies to cookieless tracking

What’s more, the transition to cookie-free tracking seems to require a re-evaluation of various advertising strategies. However, digital marketers need to rethink their objectives and targeting methods, and simply find smart alternative ways. In order to correctly and very effectively reach their desired audience. However, simply exploring contextual advertising, influencer marketing and various strategic partnerships can really offer new ways of reaching and engaging consumers smoothly.

However, by simply recognizing these major challenges and addressing them proactively, marketers can adapt their smart strategies, adopting a variety of innovative solutions. Success, however, lies in remaining agile in the face of an ever-changing landscape. In addition, deleting cookies can pose a number of obstacles. With consistency, resilience, creativity and a customer-centric approach, digital marketers can emerge triumphant from this new challenge.

Platforms adapt to cookieless tracking

The seismic shift towards cookie-free tracking is prompting several major digital platforms to adapt and offer alternative solutions. to adapt and offer alternative solutions. To simply meet the possible challenges facing digital marketers. However, the two main players in this field are Google with its Privacy Sandbox initiative and Meta with its Conversion API and its transition to GA4 (Google Analytics 4). However, let’s simply explore how these smart platform adaptations aim to mitigate the obvious challenges of no-bake tracking and simply empower digital marketers.

Server-side conversions

Various platforms have moved directly towards server-side conversions. Rather than relying solely on cookies, server-side conversions allow interactions to be captured and properly analyzed directly on their own servers. Primarily, this approach offers greater control, protocol and enhanced security, as well as the overall ability to track and correctly attribute user actions accurately and seamlessly across multiple touchpoints.

Cookieless tracking : Transition to GA4

GA4 is specifically designed to cope with the reduction in third-party cookies. Features such as “Insights”, based on machine learning, enable optimal use of data. In addition, Google Tag Manager offers user ID tracking to maintain anonymity while analyzing behavior. GA4 facilitates the creation of more precise audiences for Google Ads, enabling targeting based on a wider range of factors. To fill the gaps left by cookies, it is possible to use third-party tools for campaign personalization, notably for services such as Facebook Ads.

Google Privacy Sandbox

Recognizing the potential need for privacy-focused tracking methods, Google is launching the Privacy Sandbox. This intelligent collaborative effort aims to develop privacy-preserving solutions that enable highly effective ad targeting and appropriate metrics without relying on third-party cookies. However, by leveraging technologies such as Federated Learning of Cohorts (FLoC) and First-Party Sets, Google is seeking to strike the right balance between user privacy and digital marketers’ need for clear information.

Meta Conversion API

Facebook has launched the Conversion API (CAPI), which provides a direct link between advertisers’ marketing data and Facebook’s servers, offering an alternative to cookie-based conversion tracking, and enabling cookieless tracking with Meta. This API helps optimize ad targeting, measure results, improve conversion attribution, and reduce cost per action. Although ad blockers have limited the effectiveness of the Facebook Pixel, it remains important and is recommended for use in conjunction with CAPI to maximize the effectiveness of events on your website. The Conversion API can be configured either via a partner integration, or manually via Events Manager.

Solutions for cookieless tracking

Contextual retargeting with cookieless tracking

With the disappearance of third-party cookies, contextual targeting has simply become more important. By correctly analyzing the content and context of all web pages, digital marketers can simply serve ads that are smoothly aligned with the user’s immediate interests and intent. Relying on intelligent, natural language processing and machine learning algorithms, contextual targeting simply enables digital marketers to correctly deliver relevant messages without relying solely on individual user data.

Universal IDs & Identity Resolution

Universal IDs simply offer a highly effective solution to the challenge of identifying users across different platforms. However, these major identifiers provide a very unique identifier that can simply be shared and used across different platforms, enabling simple cross-platform tracking and targeting. However, identity resolution technologies simply help to understand and map the different identifiers. To create a unified view of users, they simply fill in the gaps left by the obvious absence of third-party cookies.

First-party data & consent management

Next, the emphasis on direct customer relationships, first-party data collection, analysis and exploitation has just become essential. Marketers can simply encourage users. Marketers can simply encourage users to voluntarily provide their data through highly engaging experiences, exclusive content and personalized incentives. However, implementing robust consent management platforms simply enables users to control their data preferences, and marketers to operate in compliance with privacy regulations.

New measurement frameworks

With traditional measurement approaches now being turned on their head, it’s essential to adopt new measurement landscapes and frameworks. Digital marketers can simply leverage privacy-focused analytics platforms such as Google Analytics 4 (GA4). In order to gain clear insights into overall customer behavior, leveraging machine learning capabilities and cross-device tracking. This shift in global measurement frameworks simply enables marketers to correctly tailor their smart, creative strategies and optimize the performance of various campaigns in a secure and totally privacy-friendly way.

Advanced attribution models

With fragmented user data and the obvious absence of cookies, the adoption of highly advanced attribution models becomes crucial. Digital marketers can simply take advantage of machine learning algorithms and certain data-driven models. In order to analyze multiple touchpoints and very precisely assign attribution credits, digital marketers can simply leverage machine learning algorithms and certain data-driven models. However, by combining data from a variety of valid sources, such as first-party data, CRM systems and some offline interactions, marketers can simply gain a more intelligent and holistic understanding of the overall customer journey.

Vincent Chevalier Levy
After managing the largest marketing analytics & growth teams from the Silicon Valley (Electronic Arts & Udemy), Vincent decided to create Impulse Analytics in order to accelerate the growth of the accounts he manages. Vincent's focus on media, content & data helped him generate more than +50 million euros of revenue, +70 clients supported, 25 countries and counting ..

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