Affiliate & Partnership Marketing / Digital Marketing

Affiliate Marketing Without Third Party Cookies

Neguin Farhangmehr

24 Aug 2021

Affiliate Marketing traditionally relied on the use of “cookies” to track the consumer journey to conversions, allowing affiliate networks to determine which affiliate created a sale. However, user privacy concerns have led to changes in tracking through browsers and operating systems.

Browsers are phasing out and blocking third-party cookies

The affiliate landscape changed dramatically in 2017 when Apple announced they would begin to gradually restrict cookies through Intelligent Tracking Prevention (ITP). This a feature of web-browser Safari, that was specifically designed to respond to consumers’ concerns on privacy by blocking third-party cookies. Since then, other web-browsers like Chrome and Safari have taken similar measures, which has brought the conclusion of the third party cookie era forward. The phasing out and blocking of third-party cookies has now become the norm.

So, why is this so relevant?

ITP only affects Safari browsers, and although Safari isn’t the market leader it has a significant number of high-value users on mobile throughout Australia. In the IAB’s Australia Affiliate Marketing Industry Review released this year, less than half of marketers and agencies using affiliate marketing are prepared for the blocking of third-party cookies.

The results are alarming as 39% of the advertisers surveyed still rely on third party cookies, with one in four surveyed unaware of the need to prepare for an alternative solution.

What solutions do we recommend?

At GrowthOps Digital, we took measures early on to future proof our clients affiliate programs. We partnered with Impact as our technology provider, who had introduced a unique way to track with first-party cookies effectively preventing this issue before it began. In 2018, we started advising our clients to change their tracking and we officially stopped working with third party cookies in 2019, through the following solutions:

  • Universal Tracking Tag (UTT) 

Impact’s Universal Tracking Tag integrates directly into an advertiser’s site, tracking the user journey and conversion data with first party cookies, rather than third party. As a result, advertisers using the UTT are not affected by ITP or browser blocking since it only affects tracking by third party cookies.

  • Server-to-Server 

This option allows a direct connection between the advertiser’s server and Impact’s through APIs.  Server-to-server solutions like this eliminate the reliance on the user’s browser and avoid cookies altogether, and are genuinely ‘cookie free’. However, it requires more development resources on the advertiser’s part to implement.

At GrowthOps Digital, we ensure to always follow industry best practices and work towards keeping our clients up to date  through the best available technology.

By Neguin Farhangmehr, Head of Affiliate and Partnerships at GrowthOps Digital.

GrowthOps Digital is a full-service digital agency that offers end to end digital marketing services such as Google Ads, Social Media, Partnership Marketing, and more. Speak to us about your growth needs today.