What is Cookieless Data Collection?

Cookieless data collection gathers user data and insights without using website cookies (data trackers that contain personal identifiers) either because the user rejects them or because they are not permitted. This method is growing given multiple tracking restrictions and privacy regulations.


Why is Cookieless Data Collection Important?

Third-party cookies are small pieces of code stored in a different domain to the website the user is visiting. They are typically used to display relevant adverts and to track the customer journey across the internet, collecting online behavior such as:

  • what they clicked on,

  • their search history or

  • the time spent on a specific web page.

These cookies feed into advertisement platforms and website tracking tools such as Google Analytics, providing valuable insights that allow companies to

  • assess website performance,

  • compile accurate consumer profiles,

  • inform successful advertising and marketing campaigns,

  • and ultimately provide a more personalized user experience.

Recognizing and tracking customers has become much more challenging over recent years as growing privacy concerns drive irreversible change in the digital marketing world, particularly:

  • Cookie regulations

  • Changes to browser restrictions

  • Increasing use of ad blockers

Cookie Regulations

Legislation in Denmark (Cookie Order), Belgium (DPA Cookie Guidance), and Germany (Telecommunications Telemedia Data Protection Act) ban the use of any cookie (even functional) without consent. More than 30% of all users in these countries reject the cookie consent, meaning all data relating to this user audience is not visible to marketers.

While country-specific at present, these strict regulations are widely expected to be replicated across the EU once the ePrivacy Directive comes into force. To date, GDPR has provided the main legal framework for website operators using cookies.

Changes to Browser Restrictions

Most major web browsers no longer support third-party cookies, and Google plans to stop supporting third-party cookies on its Chrome browser by the end of 2023. Currently, if your audience is using any browser other than Google Chrome, you are not seeing the whole picture in Google Analytics.

Not all cookies will become obsolete, however. Website owners will still be able to leverage first-party cookies (where cookies are collected by the website that the user visits directly with their consent), although there are now tighter restrictions on these too.

The release of Intelligent Tracking Prevention (ITP) means that all commercial first-party cookies can only be stored on browsers for 1-7 days. Within Safari, all users that return after 24 hours will be recorded as new users. This means marketers with Safari users will never know if it is taking longer than a day for their customers to convert. It is particularly important to have this data when selling higher-value items or services for which a customer will typically make several visits to your website before making the buy decision.

To gauge the impact of this, compare your new visitor/returning customer ratio on Google Analytics - Chrome will show a lot more returning customers than Safari:

Similarly, you will no longer be able to attribute long customer journeys on Safari to the correct (paid) source. You can estimate how much revenue you are missing in your Google Analytics by opening conversions, taking an eCommerce overview, and comparing this with the revenue you report in your own backend.

Increasing Use of Ad Blockers

Users are increasingly using ad blockers, which block the website ads and all the data being sent to Google Analytics.

Improving data quality is increasingly important for data-driven marketing strategies. By only having access to a limited number of users that have logged in or consented to cookies, marketers are missing out on valuable marketing and performance measurement data, resulting in ill-informed decisions regarding advertising spend and website development. That’s why they need to find a new way to target and segment audiences and measure performance.

How Does Cookieless Tracking Work?

Cookieless tracking offers a way to collect audience insights when a user rejects cookie consent or cookies are not supported. Instead of a cookie, a cookieless tracking solution enables marketers to track each user who visits their website by using scripts that only run when they visit a webpage. This can be done on the server-side and therefore captured as privacy-friendly first-party data, meaning there is no need to store data as a cookie on the user’s device. This anonymous tracker sends data directly to Google Analytics or your chosen website tracking tool to ensure you obtain a complete picture of your audience.

CM.com's Webtracking solution allows marketers to unlock a complete set of insights through Google Analytics, including ad attribution and user journey data, using both first-party cookies and cookieless data collection.

It offers plug-and-play solutions that run in parallel to Google Analytics and operate in two ways, depending on cookie consent:

  1. When consent is given, a first-party cookie is used with a persistent ID.

  2. When consent is not given, Webtracking replaces client-side cookies with a server-side Client ID that can be used for first-party web analytics. This is in hash format, whereby a short string of letters and/or numbers is generated using the user’s IP address, user agent, and website URL and is stored on the server rather than with the client.

This makes the process irreversible (hashing only works in one direction and cannot be decrypted) and therefore anonymous and fully compliant with privacy laws.

With Webtracking, there is also greater transparency for your customers. There is no black box, so all activity can be seen in the user portal.

Would like to know how much data are you missing? Find it out in our Missing Data Blog.

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