Types of Cookies and Other Tracking Technologies
Last Updated: September 15, 2021
What are Website Tracking Technologies?
Website Tracking Technologies such as cookies are used by site owners or third parties to collect, store, and/or share information about their users’ activities. Websites and third parties analyze user behavior so they can provide a better user experience with targeted content and other functions. While first- and third-party cookies are typically the most popular types of tracking technologies, there are still many more types of website tracking that can be used.
Why Should You Care?
Website tracking is an important and fundamental practice for many websites. As previously mentioned, tracking technologies are used to give website owners insight into how their site performs and how effective their ad campaigns are. Not only does analyzing this tracking technology data optimize ROI and ensure regulatory compliance but they allow a better user experience for their users.
A successful website that uses this technology provides transparency to its users by understanding and categorizing all these types of tracking technologies, inform the users, and gather consent. Additionally, tracking user data is regulated or restricted by privacy laws such as the GDPR, CCPA, CPRA, and others.
Types of Cookies and Other Tracking Technologies
Website / HTTP Cookies
First-Party Cookies are stored directly by the website (or domain) you are visiting. These cookies allow website owners to do basic functions such as collect analytics data, remember language settings, and provide an optimal user experience.
Most users have no issues with first-party data. For example, if eCommerce websites, like Amazon, didn’t collect first-party data that would mean visitors’ carts don’t get tracked across multiple products. Meaning visitors could only check out one item at a time. Additionally, a basic foundation for creating a good user experience is not having to log in every time you go to a website.
Third-Party cookies are created by websites that are not the website (or domains) a user is visiting. These are usually used for online advertising purposes and are placed on a website through a script or a tag. For example, when a user is shopping on a website and adds an item to their cart but doesn’t purchase, they may later get ads for that item.
These types of cookies are a little more controversial which is why it’s essential to understand how you use third-party cookies so you can provide trust and transparency to your users and also achieve compliance. There’s a lot evolving with the end of third-party cookies in 2023. Companies and websites that adapt and A/B test their strategy now will not only secure their future revenue but also create a sustainable competitive advantage.
Other Website Tracking Technologies
Websites use several technologies alone or together to track visitors. Here are some of the most common website technologies:
- Fingerprinting: Using attributes of the user’s device or browser to build a profile of the user. Data tracked includes the user’s device, operating system, screen resolution, browser and browser version, language, and time zone. While each piece of information individually isn’t of value, when combined it is an incredibly accurate way to identify users.
- Cross-Device Tracking: enables the tracking and identification across multiple devices such as computers, mobile, smart TVs, etc…
- Web beacons: a small tag placed on a website in an email to track how the user interacts with the content. When used for email marketing, the company can get basic insights into the performance such as if/when the user opens the email and how many times.
- Tracking Pixels: a 1×1 pixel graphic used to track user behavior, site conversions, web traffic, and other metrics similar to a cookie. They’re usually hidden and embedded in everything from banner ads to emails. There are multiple different types of pixels that can be leveraged by companies and websites.
- Tracking Tags: also known as UTM codes are a piece of code added to a website URL to provide better analytics about web traffic and user behavior.
- Supercookies: similar to standard cookies as they are used to track users across the web, but are harder to detect and remove since they’re stored in different places.
- Favicons: also known as shortcuts and website icons, are displayed next to the website URL and are used to track users across browsing sessions.
- Federated Learning of Cohorts (FLoC): groups users into cohorts based on their browsing history with the purpose of protecting user data without impacting advertising effectiveness.
How CookiePro Helps
CookiePro comes with the most widely used and comprehensive website and mobile app scanner. With CookiePro’s scanner, you can easily achieve website compliance end-to-end with just a few steps.
The first step is to scan and identify cookies and tracking technologies to better understand your website’s privacy health. The second step is to use your scan results to categorize those technologies. With CookiePro you get access to Cookiepedia, the world’s largest database of over 30 million pre-categorized cookies and trackers. The last step is to schedule future scans on a regular basis so you can automate the categorization process to automatically update your website.