What Is Cookieless Tracking And How Does It Work: The Complete Guide
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What Is Cookieless Tracking And How Does It Work: The Complete Guide

19 February 15 February ~ 8 min read 1703 views
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Claspo Blog What Is Cookieless Tracking And How Does It Work: The Complete Guide

The spread of new cookieless tracking methods is a response to recent high-profile data leaks. They allow businesses to collect information about website visitors without creating cybersecurity threats and violating current legislation, particularly GDPR and CCPA regulations. We will explain how these methods work, how they affect attribution and analytics strategies, and how they will evolve in the near future.

What is Cookieless Tracking

Cookieless tracking is the collection of information about website visitors that does not involve data exchange with other entities such as advertisers, search engines, affiliate networks, etc. Despite its name, it still uses short code snippets created by a user's browser. But they are only available to visitors and owners of the sites being viewed.

Cookieless attribution involves planning interactions with potential customers based on other mechanisms, such as user actions or contextual information. These digital marketing methods were discussed in 2011 when the United States and several European countries passed cybersecurity laws that forced website owners to warn users about data being collected. However, they were not actually applied until the 2020s with the development of appropriate technologies.

The importance of tracking without cookies is that it prevents the sharing of personal information that can be used by attackers. These methods allow website visitors to remain anonymous and protected from various types of online fraud, such as hacker attacks, phishing, extortion, etc. 

According to experts, by the end of 2024, third-party cookies in digital marketing, considered the main threat to cybersecurity, will be stopped entirely. Apple has already completely abandoned them, and Google has begun the process of rebuilding its algorithms, which will be completed at the beginning of the fourth quarter of 2024. 

How Does Cookieless Tracking Work in Google Analytics 4

The basis of cookieless tracking in Google Analytics 4 is a flexible event system. It allows the website owner to collect information about specific visitor actions, such as clicks, video views, script launches, page scrolling to a particular mark, etc. The user's browser is not involved in this process - the information is directly transmitted to the analytics service server as HTTP codes.

Cookieless_Tracking_Work_in_Google_Analytics_4

However, Google Analytics 4 is set to track based on browser data by default. But, during 2024, the company will change these settings to adapt to the new conditions and rules of work. Until then, when connecting the analytics system for the first time, you can enable cookieless tracking in GA4 using Google Tag Manager by following these instructions:

1. Launch Google Tag Manager.

2. Open the Client Configuration section. 

3. Select the type of Google Analytics client: GA4. 

4. Set the following parameters:

  • Priority - leave it by default;
  • Default GA4 paths - enabled;
  • Default gtag.js paths - enabled, specify the IDs of all metrics to be tracked;
  • Automatically serve dependent scripts - enabled;
  • Compress HTTP response - enabled;
  • Cookies and Client Identification - JavaScript Managed.

5. Create a new GA4 tag and leave all lines unchanged.

GA4_tag

6. Go to the Trigger section. 

7. Click the "+" button to create a new trigger. 

8. In the Trigger Configuration, select Custom. 

9. Specify the events that will activate this tag. 

10. Set the client name to GA4. 

11. Create a name for the trigger and save it. 

12. Go to the server container settings and click on its ID. 

13. Copy the address in the Default URL field.

Server_Created

14. Open the tags menu and create a new one by selecting the Google tag type. 

15. Specify the ID of your tag - the ID looks like "G-XXXXXX". 

16. In the Configuration settings, specify the name "server_container_url" and the address copied earlier. 

17. Add a trigger to this tag using the steps described above. 

18. Save all settings.

Cookieless tracking in Google Analytics has a lot of advantages. First, it meets the latest cybersecurity standards. Secondly, it allows you to receive all the necessary data despite the refusal to process information and use ad blockers and anonymizers. Thirdly, it reduces the amount of code used in the browser, which improves website performance.

Claspo easily integrates with Google Analytics 4, helping you track user interactions with your widgets in real time. Since widgets are an essential part of your online strategy, transferring events related to them into a single data repository allows you to better understand behavioral patterns and the user journey on your website.

How Will Cookieless Tracking Impact Your Attribution Strategy

Although third-party cookies have long been the primary source of information for digital marketers, new times call for alternative solutions. Against the background of banning third-party cookies, 90% of marketers actively invite the audience to share their data voluntarily through online forms and surveys. This transparent strategy allows them to build an honest relationship with the audience and, as a bonus, receive high-quality and accurate data from the most reliable source - potential and existing customers.

 If you want to follow their example, Claspo will be your most reliable assistant for several reasons:

  • With our extensive library of templates and simple editor, you can quickly create a  widget for collecting contact info or conducting surveys.
  • You can add custom data input fields to your widgets and thus collect any information about site visitors that is important to you.
  • Our editor has a special "data processing" component that contains text and a checkbox to confirm the user's consent. Once you've added it to your widget, you only need to provide a relevant link to your privacy policy.

Gif_data_processing

  • Claspo is ISO/IEC 27001:2013 certified, ensuring that your widgets are GDPR-compliant and all data your audience provides is securely protected.
  • Claspo integrates not only with Google Analytics 4 but also with most ESPs and CRMs, so all data collected with our widgets is quickly transferred to the chosen platform for building personalized communication on various channels.
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Contextual marketing methods that don't rely on collecting and processing information also work well in cookieless attribution. They take into account other parameters:

  • where a visitor came from;
  • what content they are viewing on the page;
  • what promotions the company is currently offering;
  • what events are happening on the market;
  • what the top products are.

Contextual marketing is not a new invention. However, it was rarely used previously due to its poor accuracy. Machine learning and Big Data technologies have given it a new life. They can predict user behavior with an accuracy of over 90% and, in some cases, up to 99%. This allows you to build an advertising system that takes into account all the features of the company's business model.

Effects on Analytics Strategy

We have already described the cookieless web tracking in Google Analytics 4. It transmits data to the server by tracking certain events without using the browser. This approach has gradually become the new norm for online businesses. Therefore, marketers have to shift from analyzing the history of online customer behavior to analyzing customers’ interactions with a particular website. This allows them to make important decisions quickly and use hyper-personalization techniques.

Effects_on_Analytics_Strategy

But such changes in digital marketing have their drawbacks. Third-party cookies provided very detailed information. For example, marketers could learn from a user's behavioral history that their customers are primarily young women from Amsterdam who go on weekend bike tours. 

However, old tracking systems are being replaced by new ones based on artificial intelligence. They can draw parallels between certain characteristics of visitors that are invisible to the human eye. Their accuracy is already approaching that of cookies.

So What is the Future of Cookieless Tracking?

The transition to new marketing attribution and analytics systems is already a reality. Experts predict that in 2024, more than 95% of third-party cookies and related software systems will disappear. Instead, the following will become relevant:

  1. Expanded use of predictive models and improvement of their accuracy. In the world of cookieless user tracking, artificial intelligence will be able to personalize content based on a visitor’s characteristics. By receiving each new variable as the customer moves through the marketing funnel, it will generate more and more effective appeals. 
  2. Hyperlocalization. The emergence of new mobile networks and wireless communication systems will allow you to determine the current position of a user with an accuracy of centimeters. By assessing a user's location, direction of movement, surroundings, weather, and even light conditions in the area, the analytics system will offer personalized advertising.
  3. Dialogue marketing. According to Salesforce, 71% of users want to see high-quality online customer support on a website, and according to Kayako, 79% feel better about a business after communicating in a company chat. Generative artificial intelligence models are able not only to engage in a dialog with customers but also to analyze queries and identify keywords from them. This data can also be used to customize marketing strategies. 
  4. Creation of new partner networks. Another strategy for tracking users without cookies can be data exchange between large portals. They will transfer anonymized data to set up analytics and artificial intelligence training systems. It is quite possible that relevant services will appear based on large e-commerce platforms such as Shopify, Amazon, or eBay.
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