What about cookie blocking?
If you’re reading this article, you’ve likely seen or read some stuff about how cookies are being phased out and that the ‘death of cookies’ is approaching, and you’re wondering whether Attributer will work in the future.
While some types of cookies are being phased out, there’s a lot of nuances here and it’s important to understand the different types of cookies that exist, what each of them does, and how all of this impacts Attributer.
Different types of cookies
It’s important to note that there are two types of cookies, and not all are bad. The different types of cookies include:
- First Party Cookies – These are cookies that are set by a website and can only be accessed and used by that same website. These are commonly used for things like remembering items in your shopping cart, or remembering that you are logged in to a web application (like Facebook) as you browse from page to page.
- Third-party cookies – These are cookies that are set by a website but can be accessed and used by any other website. These are the nefarious ones you hear about, as they are often used for things like tracking your activity as you browse around the web.
Generally speaking, it’s the third-party cookies that are actively being phased out. First-party cookies are actually critical to the way the web works and majority of websites couldn’t function properly without them. eCommerce sites couldn’t remember the items you have in your cart, and you’d have to login to your Facebook account every time you loaded a new page.
You can read more about the details over on cookiestatus.com, but the main thing you need to know is first-party cookies are here to stay while third-party cookies are being blocked/limited by various browsers.
Attributer uses first-party cookies
When a person arrives at your website, Attributer stores information on how they got there using a first-party cookie, which means it isn’t subject to the limitations and blocks placed on third-party cookies and can therefore function correctly across all browsers and devices.
The only limitations that the Attributer cookie is subject to is in Safari, whereby the cookie is purged after 7 days. None of the other major browsers purge cookies at a set interval, so therefore the Attributer cookie expires after 365 days (a time limit set by us, not the browser).
What does this mean for my use of Attributer
Recent statistics put Safari usage at around 20%, so essentially the impact for you is as follows:
For the 80% of visitors to your website that use Chrome, Firefox, Edge, etc, Attributer will remember where they came from for up to 365 days. So if a person was to come to your site one day from Organic Search, Attributer would store that information in the cookie for 365 days. If they were to come back 90 days later and complete a form, the details of their first visit would be remembered (I.e. the visit from Organic Search) and passed through. If they were to come back 420 days later, the cookie that stores the details of their first visit would have been deleted and so a new cookie would be set and the details from the most recent visit would be passed through.
For the 20% of visitors that come to your site in Safari, the this period of time is reduced to 7 days. So if a person comes to your site from Organic Search one day, then returns 5 days later and completes a form, the details of their original visit from Organic Search are passed through. If they were to return 12 days later, the cookie storing the details of their first visit would have been deleted by Safari and so a new cookie would be set and the data about this most recent visit is what gets passed through.
It’s also worth noting that because the deletion of the cookie is being enforced by Safari, the impact is the same for all analytics tools (including Google Analytics). So regardless of what tool you use, this will apply.
What the future holds
Obviously we don’t know what the future will hold and one day browsers may start to block first-party cookies, but it’s highly unlikely. First-party cookies are a fundamental part of how the web works and without them basic functionality like shopping carts and logging in to your account on sites like Facebook simply wouldn’t work.
Furthermore, because they can only be accessed by the website that set them they cannot be used to track your behavior across the web, and therefore they don’t present the same privacy issues third-party cookies do.
Finally, if the day does come in the future when first-party cookies are phased out then they will be replaced with some other mechanism for storing data, which Attributer could use. Fundamentally websites need to have a mechanism to store the data about visitors or they simply couldn’t function properly.
Furthermore, there would be a multi-year notice period (the notice period for the blocking of third-party cookies was several years) which would give tools like Attributer plenty of time to adapt.
All in all, you can trust that if you implement Attributer now it’s going to continue to work for many years to come.
Can't find the answer you need? Contact us!
Our team are available to answer any questions you have