In the first part of this article series, we introduced Intelligent Tracking Prevention (ITP) and other browser-based privacy updates that have already begun to affect businesses relying on third-party data collection platforms to manage their web analytics activity. This second article addresses in detail what you can do to “ITP proof” your web data collection strategy.
As we’ve described, ITP presents a fundamental problem for third-party web analytics vendors and the companies that rely on these third parties. As a third-party vendor, you are likely to need to use the same technologies and approaches to providing data collection for your users as third-party advertising technology companies.
How to reliably collect web analytics data in an ITP world
To recap, cookies can either be set in HTTP responses or through the document.cookie API (also referred to as client-side cookies). With ITP 2.1, all persistent client-side cookies expire after 7 days.
For data-driven businesses that want to continue collecting accurate and reliable user data, including from users running Safari browsers, the one solution is to move to a first-party data collection solution so you can run your own data collection stack in your own environment and collect data as a first party, effectively “ITP-proofing” your web data collection.
Benefits of first-party data collection
A first-party data collection solution is one in which the data collection pipeline is first party: the pipeline is owned and controlled end-to-end by the website owner, and is only used by the website owner. This contrasts with third-party data collection platforms like Google Analytics: Google processes data on its infrastructure on behalf of the millions of companies running Google Analytics. In contrast, a first-party data collection stack would be used only to collect data by the first party. The entire stack would run on the first party’s own infrastructure.
The key thing a first-party data collection stack can do that is difficult for a third party to do is set first-party cookies server-side. Apple rightly does not target first-party cookies set server-side because these can only be set by the website owner (rather than an ad tech provider).
Let’s look at two first-party data collection solutions you can use:
Snowplow: Snowplow is a first-party data collection platform that runs in your own cloud environment, which means you retain full control and ownership of the data you collect. Snowplow sets server-side cookies, which are not subject to the restrictions imposed by ITP 2.1 and 2.2.
Build Your Own Pipeline: Building out and owning your own data pipeline has many benefits; you have full control and ownership of your data, you don’t have to rely on third parties, and you have a level of flexibility other tools can’t provide. Most importantly, you’ll be able to collect data using first-party tracking.
Advertising companies will most likely continue to come up with ways to circumvent ITP, and browser manufacturers will keep coming up with solutions to block them, which means companies relying on web analytics risk getting caught in the crossfire. As a result, any solution relying on a third party will prove to be a short-term fix, so if you’re serious about data and the long-term applicability of your data analytics solution, consider moving to first-party data collection. You can get in touch with the team at Snowplow here to learn more.