The Rise of Server-side Tracking and Its Impact on Advertising

Episode 8 of the The Data-led Professional podcast

The advent of a cookieless world is upon us and every business that relies on online advertising in any form will be affected by it. Third-party cookies are going away from the Chrome browser whereas Safari and Firefox disable them by default.

So how does this affect online advertising?

Greg Brunk of MetaRouter answers this in extreme detail in the latest episode of The Data-led Professional podcast. Here’s how Greg explains how the Facebook Pixel works:

The Facebook Pixel which is seemingly a harmless snippet of code, collects a surprisingly large number of visitor data through websites that have it installed. 

When someone clicks on your ad on Facebook and lands on your website, and signs up for your app or makes a purchase, the Facebook Pixel tracks that as a conversion. This is pretty standard and cookies play a big role in enabling such conversion tracking.

However, the Facebook Pixel also collects all kinds of additional measurement data so that they can build audiences based on all the things a user does across the internet. Facebook wants to know what they’re interested in, the products they’re looking for, and the groups they’re a part of. 

The Pixel also collects auxiliary or measurement data, enabling Facebook to retarget to the same person when other advertisers are interested in selling to people with similar interests as that person.

But that’s not all. 

Facebook does all kinds of additional crazy things — they fingerprint from the page so if users don’t give consent to handover their identity, they’ll still try to figure out who they are by looking at cues from the browser like the IP address or the user agent to try to decipher who they are with a fuzzy match. 

Then there’s stuff like prefetching — when a user is scrolling through their Facebook feed and Facebook anticipates that the user intends to click an ad, Facebook will prefetch the landing page and basically count that as a conversion even if the user doesn’t end up clicking the ad.

Advertisers can of course turn off prefetching manually but only if they are aware of it in the first place.

Tune in to the episode to derive many more insights and prepare your business to adapt to the post-cookie browser experience. 

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