If you haven’t been paying attention to all the tech news, it seems that the newest version of the most popular OS in the world, Windows 8 will come with a nifty little function that could screw up the entire interactive advertising industry. As you know, people have given up fighting global warming, and now think that cookies are the newest greatest evil in the world.
In order to gain some market share back, Microsoft has announced that IE 10 will come with the “Do Not Track” settings enabled by default, effectively blocking all sorts of interactive advertising systems.
What does this mean exactly, and will this prevent conversions for affiliate marketers?
The good news is that, even in the worst scenario, where all cookies are turned off by default, more and more next generation tracking systems do not depend on cookies. The modern systems like Cake Marketing, HasOffers and LinkTrust have san-cookie versions.
In an interview last year with Performance Marketing Insider, Jeff McColum of Cake talked about this system and why they were creating it:
From our tracking platform’s inception, dealing with cookieless sessions has been a large focus. Whether users disable cookies completely or enable the Do Not Track option in newer browsers, Cake is able to examine the browser’s fingerprint to uniquely track a session from impression to click to conversion sans cookie. We call this Session Regeneration and it’s built into every aspect of our platform’s foundation. We give our clients specific options to configure how exactly this works, but using our default configuration our clients have solved the problem of missing cookies. Additionally we allow the passing of unique identifiers back and forth between Cake and the advertiser if/when the advertiser supports it to enable 100% tracking accuracy no matter the situation.
What is the bad news about this? Many affiliate systems being used by advertisers do not support cookieless trackin, and they will be unable to track conversions. This means that many of the “homemade” systems and other third party systems that some advertisers use, will be unable to track conversions creating significant issues. A lot of affiliate programs run internally or by outsource affiliate management companies will not match up with CPA Networks, for example.
Perhaps the best news in the story is that it is not 100% for certain that the Do Not Tracking tag being on means that cookies will be completely off. It only means that a flag will be enabled that asks the third party systems to stop tracking by default, and it’s up to those systems to ignore that or not. Since the industry decided on allowing these tags to exist only if they were not defaulted, it’s very possible now many systems will purposely ignore the DNT tags, especially when it comes to conversion tracking.
In fact, despite Microsoft attempting to say that they are pro-privacy, their own advertising network actually ignores these tags and tracks regardless of those tags being enabled. Kinda hypocritical no?
In the meantime, as we learn more and more about this news, it’s recommended that people look and make sure that their system does have a cookieless product, and immediately has it enabled. Even if IE 10 does not have a huge impact on our industry, it’s likely in the future more and more people will disable cookies, and if you are doing business in Europe, you need be aware of the cookie and privacy laws there.
Love to hear feedback on what you think about these issues below.