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Avoiding “Just Desserts” In A Cookieless Future

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As Chrome sets plans to disable third-party cookies to 100% of users by Q3 2024, websites will lose some existing techniques to track both anonymous site visitors for engagement as well as identifying bot and scraper traffic for mitigation. While cookies have provided visibility on both fronts, digital fingerprinting strategies offer alternative mechanisms to sustain key capabilities. Robust fingerprint techniques can provide options to balance personalization and privacy, while augmenting protection against unwanted bots.

Cookie party: understanding cookie types

While cookies provide useful functionality to websites, only third-party cookies are being phased out due to growing privacy concerns around uncontrolled cross-site data access. First-party cookies created exclusively by the visited site for session data will remain, as will "zero-party" cookies based on data a user volunteers. Another persisting model are second-party cookies shared between two sites in an explicit partnership. However third-party cookies pose risks as they are created by external tech platforms to enable tracking across websites without user transparency or consent. With third-party cookie removal, sites will need alternative methods to maintain valuable capabilities like personalization and security protections.

Why is losing third party cookies a revenue and security concern?

If an organization does not have robust fingerprint services or an alternative persistent identifier in place before third-party cookies are phased out by Google Chrome and other major browsers, there are a few key capabilities they stand to lose:

Personalization loss

Without cookies or an alternate ID like fingerprints, sites will struggle to connect user data across sessions. Anonymous users will no longer be able to be tracked over time, severely impacting personalized recommendations, messaging, and experiences.

Metrics degradation

Key visitor and engagement metrics will become less accurate if sites cannot consistently identify unique users. Metrics like repeat visit rate, pages per session, and conversion funnel drop-off will suffer.

Attribution uncertainty

Another impact is reduced ability to accurately attribute sessions and conversions to specific acquisition channels. Identifying the revenue driven by search, social, email campaigns becomes unreliable without persistent identifiers.

Security shortcomings

Losing third-party cookies also takes away some cross-site visibility that helped identify fraudulent account access and bot activity through behavior patterns. Security protections will weaken.

Dealing with anonymous user engagement

86% of users are anonymous and don’t want to sign in to leave a zero-party cookie trail. But even anonymous visitors can respond positively to a level of personalization and engagement - whether it is more accurate search recommendations or timely promotions. Anonymous users that have engaged with at least one channel - are 5.3X more likely to buy.

Digital fingerprint services deliver better visitor identification

Photo by Unsplash+ in collaboration with Getty Images.

Responsible fingerprint techniques involve carefully generating device fingerprints by leveraging specific browser attributes, while layering in essential fraud detection to preserve utility. Implementations should provide full transparency around data collection, allow user choice wherever possible, prioritize processing on the user's device itself, and ensure the fingerprints fundamentally drive additional personalized experiences that benefit previously overlooked visitor segments. When anchored in these privacy-first principles, fingerprint services can unlock substantial value.

Mitigating unwanted bots & scrapers

As bot and web scraper sophistication increases, sites require robust detection techniques to maintain security protections. Advanced fingerprint mechanisms provide enhanced visibility by analyzing combinations of browser attributes to recognize genuine human traffic versus automated scripts. Strategies involve passively generating device fingerprints on-the-fly using signals from components like installed fonts, Canvas, WebGL and more to recognize real visitors.

Paired with behavioral analysis, network traffic inspection and machine learning classification, fingerprint uniqueness enables granular scraping bot detection. By excluding contaminated traffic, asset owners preserve infrastructure while allowing permissible access. Anchored in transparency and minimization principles, fingerprint services delivers the next frontier of access control and automated threat defense.

Leveraging fingerprints for personalization

Savvy marketers are applying machine learning techniques on digital fingerprints to build persistent user profiles across sessions and devices. By tying combinations of browser attributes to create unique fingerprint IDs, marketers establish the foundation to maintain a consistent understanding of each anonymous visitor for hyper-personalization.

Use cases enabled by modeling fingerprints include:

  • Driving predictive content recommendations that reflect user interests
  • Adapting features and site experience to observed user preferences
  • Orchestrating coherent, tailored journeys across visits
  • Preserving site metrics visibility by maintaining user identity across devices

Weighing privacy considerations with fingerprinting

While fingerprint services offers clear utility for marketers to sustain personalization in a cookieless world, transparency and consent remain crucial when collecting any user data, however anonymized. Responsible fingerprint implementations involve clearly disclosing what data is gathered through fingerprint techniques and how it will specifically be used to benefit the user experience. Data retention should be minimized with fingerprints and associated analytics deleted after reasonably required periods. Where possible, users should be allowed control over fingerprint data collection, including easy opt outs on each page. And when feasible, fingerprint computations should happen directly on the user's device before any data is transmitted to servers.

Having your visitors and tracking them too!

With thoughtful privacy safeguards in place around transparency, data minimization, user choice and on-device processing, websites can gather the insights needed to drive personalization while respecting user expectations around data collection. Though fingerprints themselves don't contain direct user identifiers, it remains important websites anchor the technology in strong ethics and consent.

Responsible marketers balance value and privacy with user data. Fingerprint services can complement other tactics like first-party identity mechanisms and privacy-preserving data collaboration between sites.

As third-party cookies fade away, fingerprints present options to sustain personalized experiences users appreciate. With thoughtful implementation, sites can deliver value while respecting user choice.

To learn more about how AI-powered PhotonIQ Fingerprint lets companies identify customers, personalize experiences, thwart fraud, and prioritize privacy, chat with an Enterprise Solution Architect today!

First photo by Vyshnavi Bisani on Unsplash.

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