Postback Tracking: The Newest Threat to Cookies
On May 7, 2019, Google announced the plan to implement differentiation between same site and cross-site cookies. While Google will not block these cookies, it will soon allow users to delete cookies without getting logged out of sites.
In 2017, Safari started making efforts to prevent third-party tracking and will now automatically clear cookies or decrease cookie lifetime to just 24 hours. Firefox has similar measures in place to allow users to completely block third party tracking.
How does this affect you? iFame and image pixels are becoming less reliable given the new privacy regulations and autonomy given to users.
Solution: Implement postback tracking to accurately collect data on click through and conversion rates.
So what is postback tracking?
Postback tracking, also referred to s2s (Server to Server) is a server-based method of tracking that does not rely on cookies in order to fire. Typically, a postback URL is placed on the advertiser’s server or in their tracking platform, and is usually the most reliable method of tracking. However, one limitation of Postback URLs is that they will only fire affiliate postbacks and will not, for example, support affiliate HTML pixels (think: FB pixels).
iFrame/Image Pixels are both HTML methods of tracking that do rely on 3rd party cookies in order to fire. Typically, these pixels are placed in the advertiser’s source code of their webpage or are placed in the tracking platform. Unfortunately, this method of tracking is becoming less reliable as new browser-based features are released (such as Chrome 76) that limit that use of 3rd party tracking systems. The upside to HTML pixels, however, is that they do support all methods of affiliate tracking.
Having both types of pixels placed is the most reliable form of tracking – with this setup, advertisers can support all methods of affiliate tracking and each pixel will serve as a “backup” to one another. For example, if an iFrame pixel fails to fire due to browser settings (e.g. browser blocks 3rd party cookies or user deletes them), then the postback will swoop in to ensure that the lead is still tracked.
Implementing postback tracking is pretty simple. Depending on the platform you use, it simply involves adding a code to your tracking URL. To help you get started in this process, we created walk-through tutorials for the following platforms:
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