Independent Cookieless Attribution

Privacy-Focused Attribution

The marketing landscape is undergoing a seismic shift. With the deprecation of third-party cookies and Apple’s app tracking transparency rules giving consumers more control over their data, the tried-and-true attribution models of the past are faltering. Moreover, walled gardens that control user data,  such as Facebook and Google Ads, create barriers to marketers needing to accurately attribute full customer journeys.

Brands can no longer rely exclusively on cookies or ad platforms to measure the customer journey and optimize spending. In this new privacy-driven environment, marketers must adopt cutting-edge “cookieless” platform-independent attribution strategies to continue driving growth.


Why Cookieless Attribution? 

Cookieless attribution encompasses techniques for identifying and tracking website visitors without using cookies. This has become imperative as privacy regulations like GDPR and CCPA tighten restrictions on cookie usage, and increasing browser cookie blocking impedes tracking. With cookies becoming unreliable, brands need new methods for attributing site traffic, conversions, and campaign influence. Cookieless tracking will be the linchpin for quantifying marketing performance in the years ahead.

Why Independent Attribution?

While ad platforms provide key reports and dashboards for managing spends, the data is necessarily partial. First, ad platforms provide primarily aggregate customer data to limit risk to privacy. Second, much of the calculations for determining attribution remain hidden, subject to proprietary algorithms. Finally, ad platforms’ goals are to increase your success in their platform, which introduces bias.  If a customer journey includes Facebook and Google Ads touchpoints, both may claim conversion credit. Modern marketing attribution should not rely on ad platform APIs for conversion data.

What does independent attribution look like? Unbiased, full-funnel omni channel attribution multiplies revenue, eliminates waste, reduces acquisition costs, and delivers clarity to the customer journey. For example, Arcalea’s independent attribution platform, Galileo, uncovers revenue optimization with precision. 

How It Works

So how can organizations implement cookieless API-independent attribution? Advanced solutions rely on multiple approaches, used individually or in tandem. Device fingerprinting creates unique user records leveraging screen size, installed fonts, browser plug-ins, and other device identifiers. Cross-device tracking stitches together insights from a user’s desktop, mobile, and tablet activity. Finally, server-side tracking analyzes IP address, user agent string, and other server log data to identify visitors. Each approach provides richer identification signals to overcome the limitations cookies presented, and used in tandem can capture both data and metadata that provides conversion information attribution requires.

The Benefits of Independent Cookieless Tracking

The benefits for marketers are multifold. Independent cookieless tracking allows brands to analyze the customer journeys of privacy-conscious consumers who actively block cookies. It facilitates creating unified records of each customer’s experience across the myriad of devices they engage on. Most importantly, it restores the ability to accurately attribute marketing influence in a post-cookie world without depending on ad platform APIs.

However, brands should be aware such techniques raise potential privacy concerns. Device fingerprinting in particular can be perceived as overreach without proper transparency and consent. And determined users can still find ways to mask their digital footprints. But overall, employed ethically, cookieless attribution presents a path to marketing accountability even amidst eroding ad identifiers.

The cookie’s demise will force virtually every brand to reevaluate its attribution methodologies. But by pioneering privacy-focused tracking techniques, forward-looking marketers have an opportunity to regain clarity into the customer journey. As others have noted, the report of the challenge of multi-touch attribution is exagerated and premature. Rather, large enterprises are adding MTA to their measurement stack, not removing it.

Combining privacy and personalization need not be contradictory. Independent cookieless attribution may provide the balanced solution needed to drive growth while respecting customer preferences in an evolving digital landscape. The winners will be those that adapt quickly to build trusted relationships through data-driven, but transparent, engagement.