Responding to Third-Party Cooking Blocking

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Mozilla is planning to release third-party cookie blocking by default in Firefox version 22. Third-party cookies are those set by a different domain to the one that the user is visiting at the time and have a range of applications including analytics solutions. In these instances, if the user visits www.coolshop.com, which uses an analytics package from hitstats.com, Firefox 22 will by default, block the cookies from hitstats.com.

Since this will have a significant impact on its advertisers and publishers, affiliate marketing networks are racing to develop solutions for this problem. Webgains is one said network that has implemented a new technology, called Device Tracking to address the issue. And, while there are likely other performance marketing networks who are offering their own solutions, Website Magazine, with the help of Webgains, has spotlighted Device Tracking here. Thanks to this solution, this major change to Mozilla will not impact any Webgains publishers or advertisers as long as a few basic guidelines are followed. Here is what Webgains clients and others need to know.

Advertisers

Lucky, advertisers that do not use any kind of additional tracking logic or conditions in place that determine when to execute the network tracking code, do not need to do anything. For other advertisers that use conditional firing of their tracking code, based on predefined criteria, will need to speak with their tracking vendors to ensure the logic used is first party and not third. This is likely to be the case for advertisers who are on more than one affiliate network, those who are de-duping against other channels, and those who are using some kind of container tag or tag management system examples of which include TagMan, BrightTag, Qubit OpenTag and Google DoubleClick. 

Publishers

If you are unsure about whether your network uses first-party cookies, you should check with them directly to make sure your links are not affected by this change. 

Post-view tracking links used in re-marketing and re-targeting applications will be affected by the third-party cookie blocking. Publishers should look for a solution that utilizes device tracking, even if cookies fail.  

So What is Device Tracking?

Webgains has launched a new tracking method across all countries on the Webgains Affiliate Marketing Network. Webgains historically has employed a number of tracking solutions, some or all of which may be in use on any given program according to requirements and suitability. The introduction of Device Tracking represents an enhancement to our portfolio of tracking mechanisms in the form of a ‘tag free’ approach.

Conventional cookie technology works by storing information as a small text file in the user’s browser and indeed, most tracking mechanisms use some form of ‘tag’ placed on the user’s computer or device. 

Third-party cookie blocking is not the first or only challenge  facing the affiliate marketing industry. With the rapid expansion of the mobile market and the increasing prevalence of privacy and security concerns among users, all conventional tagging technologies are facing serious challenges. Webgains‘ Device Tracking has been developed to provide a more robust and acceptable tracking solution suitable for tracking sales across all browsers in the ever expanding mobile arena as well as traditional desktop and laptop usage.

Device Tracking requires no additional integration on the merchant’s site and has already been rolled out across Webgains in all countries.  In most instances, Device Tracking augments Webgains’ existing tracking methods rather than replacing mainstream, historical approaches to tracking.

How Does It Work?

Storing no data on the user’s machine, Device Tracking builds a unique device profile to identify an individual user (or more accurately, an individual device) and works on all machines that connect to the internet including smartphones, tablets and game consoles.  

Device Tracking analyses the user’s machine on a number of variables to compose a unique device ‘fingerprint’. There are more than 100 potential points of analysis used which range from OS and browser, to plugins used, accepted browser language settings, time zone and timestamp on device.

As technology moves forward and user machine specifications change, these developments can be incorporated into the queried parameters, ensuring a truly future-proof tracking methodology. 

Is it Safe?

Device Tracking uses no cookies, no shared objects, no tagging and records no personally identifiable information (PII) of any kind.  Device Tracking stores no data on the user’s device and as a standalone tracking method, it is compliant with the EU’s ePrivacy Directive as well as being compatible with the overhaul in privacy regulations taking place in the United States. 

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