Google Analytics uses a first-party cookie to set and store its unique identifier for a user – the client ID. Under ITP 2.1 first-party cookies set in the browser were limited to expire after seven days, when the browser removes them. With ITP 2.2 this became even harsher and, in some circumstances, it now limits cookies to only one day. This can mean the whole customer journey is not recognised and tracked.
If you prefer to listen than read, in our recent podcast episode, Search Laboratory’s Founder, Ian Harris, is joined by Paul Shearing, Head of Analytics and Data Science, Pete Whitmarsh, Head of Paid Media, and Jimmy McCann, Head of Digital Strategy, to cover the specific problems ITP and cookies are causing for marketers, some of the solutions to these problems and what the future will look like regarding this growing issue.
The default expiry of the Google Analytics cookie is two years. This means that if a user returns to the site within this time then those sessions are all stitched together allowing us to understand an individual’s behaviour over time. This is particularly important for websites that have a longer conversion window and are using the tool to understand attribution.
Under the new ITP rules, if a visitor returns after seven days on Safari without visiting the site then they are given a new client ID and treated as a new user. This makes it impossible to stitch together the true conversion path of visits together when running attribution models. It also dramatically impacts the ability to use audiences to understand and activate users.
Apple has stated that the reason for introducing these changes is primarily to target and prevent ad platforms that have started to implement methods to track users that use first-party cookies. It seems that analytics tracking solutions are an unfortunate casualty in this change.
However, since the changes are only designed to restrict cookies set in the browser, this does leave open the option for a website owner to take ownership of setting their own cookie using a server-side method, and Search Laboratory is able to help implement this solution.
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