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Assaf Dor: Getting ahead of Chrome’s third party cookies overhaul

As Google prepares to introduce some drastic changes to its Chrome browser, Cellxpert CEO Assaf Dor looks at how these updates will impact the future of affiliate and performance marketing.

Until recently, the online advertising landscape has relied heavily on third party cookies to track user behaviour and conversions across the web. However, with the upcoming update to the Google Chrome browser, that is all about to change drastically.

Restrictions will be placed on third party cookies, which – as a result – will cause many tracking setups to fail.

Apple’s Safari browser has already been blocking these cookies since April 2020, but with a 70% market share, Chrome blocking third party cookies is a game changer and requires immediate attention from anyone relying on it.

So what are cookies? They are files that are stored by a website on a user’s browser when they access that website. These files are then sent back to that site with every consequent connection and therefore allows the site to identify the user.  

First party cookies are created by the website owner and are mainly used to personalise the user experience. Third party cookies are predominantly used for tracking and attribution purposes of the user journey across many websites.

Affiliate marketing is heavily reliant on third party cookies to track the performance, compensate and report to affiliates, especially the bigger and more advanced ones that deploy their own tracking environment and aggregate data from multiple sources.

So as 2021 gets underway, there is no better time to make sure you and your organisation are prepared for this upcoming change. If you are an affiliate manager, digital marketer or marketing executive, you want to make sure you are fully prepared with an alternative solution.

I believe that the postback layer is not only the best alternative to third party cookies but is a preferred technology when working with affiliates regardless of  this change.  

From a technical perspective, tracking conversions with third party cookies has always been inaccurate because of reasons such as cross device and browser –  think of a user that signs up at work and then deposits at home. 

Even though there has been a race to replace cookies with alternative methods such as image, font and connection caching, those are already being blocked by browsers such as Firefox which has already implemented substantial measures against many of them. 

We do expect more browsers to follow suit. However, a robust postback layer will continue to operate normally regardless of these measures.

From a business perspective, some of the biggest advantages of a reliable postback layer is that it can be fully aligned with your business KPIs and work methods in ways that the in browser reporting cannot. So how can it do this?

First of all, it supports offline conversion (such as offline deposits, telephone sales and more). In addition, it can track and report all steps in the user journey, so both you and your affiliate can have reliable tracking and can optimise every step of the funnel. 

The second key benefit is by using a postback layer, you can also optimise based on advanced conversion and KPI, such as LTV and behavioural metrics of your clients, and not just based on simple registration or SQL.

Rewards plans that are based on simple conversion – like basic CPL, CPI and CPA – are more likely to be exposed to fraud or incentivise poor quality traffic. 

So, if you can report back with the clients you actually want, it gives you a competitive advantage when it comes to optimising all of your channels.

And thirdly, customers often now choose to play via multiple devices and platforms. With a postback layer, you can also carry out cross-device tracking, allowing you to easily track which activities are taking place and where. 

This enables you to  truly understand the user journey, improve the product to provide innovative and immersive game experiences, as well as optimising marketing efforts and budget allocation.

This upcoming change is relevant not only to affiliate marketing, but also to all performance, audience and media marketing campaigns. 

So even if affiliate marketing is a small portion of your marketing mix –  you will want to make sure your organisation implements an advanced system to support postback reporting for all your channels. 

Assaf is the CEO of Cellxpert. Cellxpert is the ultimate partnership management and performance marketing platform – giving you the power to track, manage, and gain control over performance marketing.  

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