For a long time, cookies were considered the gold standard in conversion tracking, but cookies are now frowned upon, and not just for data protection reasons. Of course, your company still needs the most important information about the activities of your customers in order to efficient and customer-focused marketing to be able to offer.
In this guide, we'll tell you why cookies have had their day in many cases and how you can maintain the quality of conversion tracking without cookies.
Conversion tracking without cookies - the better alternative?
Traditional conversion tracking allows you to track the Easily track activities of customerswhen they click on an ad in social media or on Google. The basis for this is an HTML module that is placed on the target page to be reached by customers. If someone now reaches the conversion page, a counting point is assigned via a cookie stored in the browser.
Cookies are stored in the browser the user to their surfing behavior and can be become critical from a data protection perspective. If companies or platforms such as Google or Facebook can draw conclusions about a person's identity from the stored cookies, it becomes problematic. In Germany, this is when the Data Protection Act (§3 BDSG) and even if German case law has not yet conclusively decided at what point it becomes problematic, the data protection situation is at least contentious. In addition, the users must anyway decide for yourselfwhether they want to allow cookies or not.
Pre-filled cookie banners are illegal in Germany, according to a ruling by the Federal Court of Justice (05/20), as this would contradict active consent.
But it is not only in terms of data protection that the cookies developed in 1994 are now old hat. With Google, Apple and Firefox, the three largest browsers have declared war on the use of first and third party cookies.
Whether this is called Intelligent Tracking Prevention like in Apple's Safari or Enhanced Tracking Prevention like in Firefox, or whether users have it in their own hands with advanced settings like in Chrome, the results for advertisers are similar: Tracking cookies are simply blocked by the latest versions of the largest browsers.
This means, as a consequence, that tracking based on cookies in many cases no longer works or no longer provides reliable information. But there are alternatives.
Data protection and precision: Conversion tracking thought through further
Probably the simplest and for marketing departments with a focus on SEO most useful tool lies in the Google Tag Manager before. This wizard can be embedded directly on your website and works dazzlingly with Google Analytics together.
The Tag Manager includes smart conversion tracking and works with both websites and mobile apps. Technically, Google Tag Manager is based on conversion pixels or code snippets, so it is no longer necessary to intervene in the HTML code of your page (as when writing a cookie).
In practice, Tag Manager impresses because it is particularly user-friendly and thus does not necessarily require a dedicated IT department for implementation. Even local heroes and family businesses can benefit from resolute conversion tracking with the Tag Manager and improve their Optimize marketing. Due to many predefined tags, this works quite easily.
However, the evaluation does not take place in the Tag Manager, but in target systems such as DoubleClick or the familiar Google Ads. In addition, the Basic version of Tag Manager free of chargeThis is the perfect way to implement modern conversion tracking for Google Ads.
Also Postback Tracking is an alternative to conversion tracking without cookies by using unique IDs instead of cookies. This technique is often also called Server-to-server tracking called and it ensures both High performance as well as Data protection claims. Blocking or deleting cookies makes classical tracking very inaccurate - postback tracking does not have this disadvantage. However, for this approach you need a larger measurement platform that can handle your traffic even if each anonymous user interaction can be assigned a unique ID. Even if there are years between user actions, Postback Tracking can still match records based on the ID. This makes Postback Tracking a very accurate alternative, but in return it requires more resources.
Targeted conversion tracking via Google and Facebook
The fact that Facebook and Google in particular want to make it easy for companies to continue measuring the ratio of ads served to actual conversions, even without cookies, should come as no surprise. The more precisely your company can read whether your ads are working and the more detailed you can place ads, the more ads you will certainly place on the platforms in question.
Facebook even offers another advantage with the platform's own conversion tracking without cookies: a Automatic optimization for conversions. So even if you don't have the know-how, budget or time to adjust your conversion tracking, the algorithm can do the targeting for you. For this, Facebook relies on the Similarity principle and shows your ads to targeted users whose profiles would be more likely to buy from you.
This means that Google Analytics with the Tag Manager and Facebook with its own conversion tracking are probably the simplest and easiest to implement alternatives to the HTML cookie.
How modern conversion tracking works without cookies
Cookies are by no means an alternative in conversion tracking and, due to frequent blocking, are no longer the best way to ensure reliable tracking.
Also methods like Fingerprint tracking (the recognition of users based on hardware and software configurations), tracking with Common IDs (through account and log-in) or the app-based tracking on mobile devices help you develop better conversion tracking and clearly see how your customers are finding you and through which channels, tags, ads and queries you are actually achieving the most conversions.