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Cookieless Tracking

What are cookies?

In the context of internet privacy, cookies have gained a bad reputation over time. They play a big part in storing your personal information and making it available to several services. Even when you research the term “cookies”, your web browser and search engine may store this information about your interests and use it later.

This would be a case of… cookies about cookies.

Cookies are small files that are saved on your device when you visit a certain website or online service. In these files, details about browsing history and log in activity can be stored for various purposes. 

 

The increasingly bad image of web cookies and its legal consequences

The use of cookies without prior informed consent is against several current laws and regulations. Cookies have now become the target of those militating for internet privacy all over the world. 

So much so that some browsers block them by default or strongly encourage users to do it. Safari, Firefox, Brave are some of those who have already taken strong action against cookies.

Trouble for analytics apps that use cookies

This has an immediate impact on all online activity, including everything connected to website analytics

Simply put, apps that use cookies to track website traffic will not be able to register all user activity anymore. Such is the case for most website analytics apps. They will show less visitors and truncated data, if some Safari or Firefox users (and likely more browsers to come) decide to navigate without having cookies activated. 

This is why cookieless tracking has suddenly become essential. Tracking without cookies is possible. It respects privacy and ensures that you get accurate data. Users don’t need to opt-in when cookieless tracking is used and you don’t need to worry about any consent banners for this. Cookieless tracking means no privacy regulation related headache anymore.

Visitor Analytics already provides website owners with cookieless tracking by default!

Good Vs. Bad Cookies

Cookies were initially created to help us, internet users, by improving, simplifying or customizing our navigational experience. But some types serve a much bigger purpose than that.

Read on to understand the various types of data that can be stored in cookies. 

First-party cookies

These cookies operate on a single web domain. These include the “harmless” cookies that remember information you entered on a website. For example, if you filled in your username once, most likely, the next time you visit that website, cookies will remember your login information and autofill it in for you so you don’t have to type it in again. They are meant to make the navigation more smooth and improve the user experience.

These types of cookies also help remember what you have placed in your shopping cart. Without them, you wouldn’t be able to browse other pages in the same shopping session and still keep your things in the cart. So these are the cookies that help you!

Third-party cookies

But some domains might also save cookies for others.

These are the cookies that help others. And by others, we mean the companies and advertisers that gather information about you through this so-called third party cookies. This especially has become an issue in these times of stricter privacy regulations.

Third-party cookies can be found on advertising banners or really anywhere else on a website, and they gather information if you click or hover over them. The browser then sends out information about your activity to the parties mentioned above.

Has it ever happened to you to search for a product on the web and afterward get bombarded with ads about that specific product? Well, third-party cookies are behind that entire process.

Why is cookieless tracking the only proper alternative?

In the context of cookie privacy, how does cookieless tracking work? This is not a technical article, but in order to better understand the benefits of cookieless tracking, a bit of background information can come a long way.

In our innovative approach to cookieless tracking at Visitor Analytics, we forfait the need for cookies altogether. Instead, we use a type of fingerprinting. When a user visits a website for the first time, it leaves a digital fingerprint that can be later recognized on a subsequent page visit.

Cookieless has 3 main implications:

  • respect for individual privacy and all privacy laws
  • It is the only 100% accurate solution for tracking all user activity
  • It offers more security by not storing data on user devices

Why is fingerprinting OK and cookies are not? Because the fingerprint is not stored on the user device and, therefore, cannot provide data about what the visitor does outside of the sessions related to the particular site. This makes cross-tracking impossible. Some anonymized data is stored, but only within the analytics environment, and it is impossible to associate it with the habits and history of a particular individual. Nobody can learn about what you do online. 

We already mentioned accuracy before. Since many users choose to opt-out when it comes to tracking cookies their activity is simply not tracked by analytics tools that rely on cookies. As a website owner using such a service, you get incomplete data.

Taking all this into account and predicting the direction in which things are going, Visitor Analytics has decided to adapt and stand out from other analytics tools by implementing cookieless tracking.

If you are not yet using Visitor Analytics, make sure to check if and how your current provider is using cookies. Consider switching to Visitor Analytics, a cookieless provider, if you want accurate data, with all privacy being respected.