Ever since Apple first announced the rollout of Intelligent Tracking Prevention (ITP), and subsequently ITP2.0, our industry has demonstrated a heightened level of concern about the limitations of third-party-cookie-based tracking methodologies. While the efficacy of third party cookies has been hindered in the past with such developments of cookie deletion and cookie blocking tools, ITP represented the first time a significant percentage of conversions might be lost overnight.
At its core, ITP created new limits on the effectiveness of third-party advertising tracking using pixel-based methodologies. In a prior blog post on ITP2.0, our Head of Deployment Si Fung explained,
“ITP2 affects the partner and affiliate marketing industries because it deprecates third-party cookies that are traditionally used to track and attribute conversions to publishers.”
In this post, we will dig deeper into the benefits of solutions that can replace the third-party pixel. But first, let’s look at why pixel tracking has been the industry standard for so long.
Put simply, tracking pixels are little bits of code stored in a user’s browser that can store information like cross-site visitation. Deploying pixels is relatively simple and has been the standard for advertisers to track consumers for over 15 years. Pixels were originally developed as a “work around” for more technologically complex ways of gathering this information. Over the years, this has been an extremely valuable hack. Nevertheless, from the beginning, and increasingly over the years, pixels have proven to be an imperfect way to capture customer data.
Enter API Tracking (Server to Server)
We believe that API (application programming interface) integrations with martech solution providers are the best way to ensure the most comprehensive and secure data collection and measurement. Using API-based direct integrations, advertisers need not worry about browser policies restricting data flow. Third-party cookies are no longer needed as data is collected directly by the advertiser and shared with other technology platforms as necessary.
We often refer to our API-based tracking as server-to-server integration (S2S). With S2S, a direct connection is created between the client’s server and Partnerize and all transactional information is transferred along with a unique Click ID, which we call a clickref. This encapsulates all of the details about the click and to whom the conversion should be attributed. Importantly, no personally identifiable information is captured within our click ID.
There are multiple benefits of making the shift to an API-based integration. With APIs, tracking is more robust since you don’t miss any transactions because of cookie deprecation or deletion. API tracking also provides more secure information transfers, improving data security in transit and at rest. There are also benefits to partners, including more accurate attribution, conversion data, and compensation exchanges.
How do you set up API-based tracking?
Existing Partnerize clients can make the switch from pixel tracking to a server-to-server integration with relative ease. This involves using the existing pixel URL with two additional parameters, one static and one dynamic. The dynamic parameter comes from the redirect from the click, i.e. the partner to Partnerize. The entire process can be accomplished in these steps:
• Client allocates development resources
• Partnerize provides Integration guide and support
• Client performs tests sending data
• Partnerize assists with testing
If your company has a coder ready to dedicate time to the S2S integration, it can take as little as one or two two-week sprints. The resource demands are fairly modest.
Many brands we work with are already seeing success through the innovative use of S2S integration to achieve goals more easily and securely than was ever possible with pixel tracking.
• We’ve seen a financial client sending data via Salesforce integration for loan applications.
• Gaming companies use game interaction to gather valuable data, and broader use of this tracking to send data via mobile apps.
• Subscription based clients using the API to implement lifetime revenue initiatives
• Clients who experienced site issues / outages from their side being able to retrospectively insert sales data so partners were not impacted
Once again, S2S is totally unaffected by the deprecation of third party cookies in ITP2 or any other browser policy, and therefore offers a more robust, secure, and accurate method for tracking online conversions. No matter what your online focus, you should approach your tech team today to get this ball rolling. The future is here, and it’s S2S.