In the ever-evolving landscape of digital marketing, affiliate marketing has been a reliable and effective strategy for businesses to promote their products and services. However, recent developments in online privacy regulations and changes in technology have raised concerns among affiliate marketers regarding the future of their industry. One significant change that has caused a stir in the affiliate marketing community is the restriction on tracking cookies and tracking IDs. In this article, we will explore the implications of these restrictions and discuss the future of affiliate marketing without cookies.

What exactly are cookies?

Before we delve into the future of affiliate marketing without cookies, let’s first understand what cookies are. Cookies are small text files that are stored on a user’s device when they visit a website. They serve various purposes, such as making websites function better, remembering user preferences, and providing personalized experiences. In the context of affiliate marketing, cookies are used to track user behavior and attribute sales to specific affiliates.

Client-side tracking – traditional cookie tracking method

The traditional method of cookie tracking in affiliate marketing is known as client-side tracking. In this method, when a user clicks on an affiliate link, a cookie is placed in their browser, which stores information about the affiliate responsible for the referral. When the user completes a conversion, such as making a purchase, the cookie information is sent back to the tracking platform, enabling the affiliate to receive credit for the sale. This type of tracking relies on the use of third-party cookies.

What’s the problem with third-party cookies?

Third-party cookies have been the subject of controversy in recent years due to concerns over user privacy. These cookies are often used for cross-site tracking, where user behavior is monitored across multiple websites. This has raised concerns about data privacy and the potential for unauthorized tracking. As a result, major web browsers, such as Chrome, Firefox, and Safari, have implemented measures to block third-party cookies, limiting their effectiveness in affiliate marketing.

Will tracking and retrieving data become impossible?

While the restriction on third-party cookies presents challenges for affiliate marketers, it does not mean that tracking and retrieving data will become impossible. Alternative methods for tracking and attribution are emerging, such as server-side tracking. Server-side tracking, also known as server-to-server tracking, does not rely on cookies and instead stores information on a server, linking it to a unique identifier. This method ensures that conversions are not lost when users disable cookies, providing a more accurate tracking solution.

What can a business do without third-party cookies or tracking ID?

In a cookieless future, businesses will need to adapt their strategies to rely more on first-party data. First-party data refers to data collected directly from users who have willingly provided their information. This data can be collected through various means, such as user registrations, surveys, and newsletter sign-ups. By leveraging first-party data, businesses can gain valuable insights into their audience and tailor their marketing efforts accordingly.

What are the alternatives?

As the use of third-party cookies becomes more restricted, businesses are exploring alternative methods to deliver personalized experiences to their users. One such alternative is the use of Customer Identity Access Managers (CIAMs). CIAM platforms allow users to create profiles that can be used to log in to various websites or applications. This not only provides a seamless login experience for users but also allows businesses to collect metadata and personalize their marketing efforts.

What will affiliate marketing look like in the future?

The future of affiliate marketing will likely see a shift towards greater reliance on technology and automation. Artificial intelligence (AI) technologies will play a crucial role in collecting and analyzing data, allowing businesses to automate various aspects of their affiliate marketing campaigns. Affiliate marketers will need to adapt by becoming more mathematically educated and proficient in interpreting data. They will also need to understand how to integrate various platforms and implement advanced content management strategies.

Does the traditional CMS still have a future?

As the landscape of digital marketing evolves, traditional content management systems (CMS) may need to evolve as well. Digital Experience Platforms (DXPs) are emerging as the next generation of CMS, offering a comprehensive solution that integrates CMS, e-commerce tools, customer data platforms (CDP), marketing automation, and more. DXPs provide businesses with a centralized platform to manage their applications and communications, enabling more extensive personalization and delivering a consistent user experience across various channels.

Will the disappearance of third-party cookies and tracking IDs offer us more privacy?

While the restriction on third-party cookies and tracking IDs aims to enhance user privacy, it does not guarantee complete privacy. The shift towards first-party data and personalized marketing may paradoxically lead to less privacy in some aspects. Users may be required to provide more personal information or create accounts to access certain content or services. However, the transparency and control over data collection and usage may increase, providing users with more information and choice regarding their privacy.

Personalization – Is This The Future of Cookieless Marketing?

In a cookieless marketing landscape, personalization will play a crucial role in engaging users and delivering relevant content. Businesses will need to rely on declared first-party data provided by users to create personalized experiences. This means offering users incentives to share information about themselves in exchange for customized products or services. By establishing a transparent and mutually beneficial relationship with users, businesses can build trust and foster brand loyalty.

Affiliate marketing without cookies – What are the alternatives?

As the use of cookies becomes more restricted, affiliate marketers will need to explore alternative tracking methods. One such method is server-side tracking, which eliminates the reliance on cookies and instead stores information on a server. This method ensures that conversions are accurately tracked, even when users disable cookies. Server-side tracking provides a cookieless solution that is not affected by browser restrictions.

In conclusion, while the restriction on tracking cookies and tracking IDs poses challenges for affiliate marketers, it also presents opportunities for innovation and adaptation. The future of affiliate marketing without cookies will likely involve a shift towards first-party data, personalization, and the adoption of alternative tracking methods. By embracing these changes and leveraging emerging technologies, businesses can continue to thrive in the evolving digital marketing landscape.