Attribution in a Cookieless World

June 3, 2023
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In the marketing world, a movement is happening in the tracking and attribution methods. For some, a future with third party cookies is worrisome. But-there are other options marketers can take to track consumer behaviors without posing privacy concerns.

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What Are Tracking Cookies?

You see the notifications and popup boxes all the time- but you might not fully understand what third party cookies are. Third party cookies are essentially a label that tracks first party data strategy on webpages and users. Third party cookie data l tracks demographic information for each user that visits web pages, that information is then stored and used in the future. 

Third party cookies are used to monitor consumer behavior. Things like - what you left in your shopping cart, your login information, what products you clicked on, your geographic location for targeted ads in your local area, and more.

Cookies can be convenient to consumers. For example, you are loading up your shopping cart and accidentally exit the page- with cookies, your cart would still be full if you return to the website you were just on. 

Cookies are thought to be essential to digital advertising, but they can pose vulnerability and privacy concerns as consumers. This is why the government is increasing regulations, especially around third-party tracking cookies. Google reports that by 2022, they are ending google chrome browser support for third-party cookies.

Cookies have been around since the mid 1990s. There are two major reasons they get a bad rep...

  1. There is an increase in security data collection breaches - consumers are worried about WHO has their personal data and how it is being protected or not being protected.
  2. With the emergence of social media and awareness - consumers are becoming increasingly creeped out by how much data collection is being shared and stored on them by marketers and want to block third party cookies. This is zero party data where users are blocking third party cookies.

Controlling Your Cookie Experience

Good news is, for the most part, you can control if you allow cookies to track your user experience or not. If you choose, you can limit what type of cookies are used on your mobile device or computer. Privacy settings are your best friend!

You can also remove cookies and reset the data that was stored in your browser tracking and personalization. A quick google search on how to do so will provide a step-by-step guide. Check out this detailed article by Lifewire for further help How to Delete Cookies in Every Major Browser.

Cookieless Attribution - Standards are Changing

Attribution models that do not use cookies is becoming more and more prominent- especially in a changing climate with user privacy. For marketers, this can be a scary thought if they have relied on technology to help them understand consumer patterns, what drives direct sales and long-term conversion.

Most would agree that marketers have become accustomed to using cookies as part of their attribution model. With cookieless tracking on the horizon, this doesn't mean that attribution tracking is going away completely. 

Cookieless Attribution. Standards are Changing Revenue Institute

New Approaches to Attribution Tracking

With a cookieless future approaching- there is a rise in alternative approaches to attribution and tracking for sales and marketing. Some of these approaches have been around for years, but not preferred by marketers- some are new. A few are highlighted below; it is important that each sales and marketing team does their own research and planning based off their needs and goals.

First-Party Data

In a privacy conscious world, marketers should rely more on first-party data than they ever have in the past. Quick definitions:

  • First-Party Data = any data gathered by observing and tracking user behavior on your web browsers.
  • Third-Party Data = data that is collected from outside your website (typically gathered from cookies)

Companies will need to adopt a Data Management system or solution to allow visibility and control over customer data. Once this is in place, the next step is to gather insights from customer data. Artificial intelligence can be used to understand predictive marketing strategies and advertising strategies - identifying trends in customer behavior is going to be key to produce target audiences and consumer journey mappings.


Metricflow has created a cookieless world attribution tool that can be found on the Salesforce app exchange. They report being able to use AI technology to collect over 40 different data points on webpages visitors- reportedly anonymous data. No browser label or cookie is placed on the end user. Metricflow uses multi-touch attribution to allow marketers to fully understand their prospect and the customer journey they are on.

There are other tracking technologies out there. It is best to do research and find a solution that supports your unique marketing efforts and goals.

Marketing Mix Modeling (MMM)

This model does not require or log individual information. MMM is highly customizable to each marketing strategy and brand. The goal of MMM is to understand how each marketing effort contributes to sales and what the spend is. 

The downside of Marketing Mix Modeling is that it can only look back on data over a period of time of potential customers, it is not real-time attribution like cookie tracking. The upside, this can also be used for predictive measures to help sales and marketing teams make decisions for the months ahead.

A cookieless world future is on the rise- are you ready for it? 



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