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Cookieless tracking: definition and its scope

In an increasingly digital world, collecting data and tracking user behaviour has become an essential activity for many organisations. Cookies are a commonly used tool to collect and use this information. However, browser manufacturers such as Apple and Mozilla have recently restricted the use of cookies to protect their users’ privacy. This has led to more and more companies looking for alternatives to continue collecting and using data. One of these alternatives is Cookieless Tracking.

Cookieless tracking is a new technology that allows user data to be collected without using cookies. At a time when data protection is a hotly debated topic, cookieless tracking is a welcome alternative for marketers and website operators. It allows them to collect and analyse user data without coming into conflict with data protection laws. This article discusses the advantages and disadvantages of cookieless tracking, presents possible tools and looks at the future of this technology.

Advantages and disadvantages of cookieless tracking

Like any technology, cookieless tracking has both advantages and disadvantages.


  1. Increased privacy: Since no cookies are used, it is more difficult for users to be tracked. This increases their privacy.
  2. No browser restrictions: Since no cookies are used, there are no browser manufacturer restrictions that limit the use of cookies.
  3. Compatibility with all devices: Since Cookieless Tracking does not use cookies, it works on all devices, including smartphones and tablets.


  1. Cost: Cookieless tracking requires technology other than cookies to be purchased or developed. This can be expensive.
  2. Learning curve: Marketers and website owners need to get to grips with a new technology which may take some time to onboard.
  3. Incomplete data: Cookieless tracking may not collect as much data as cookies, which can result in incomplete data.

Possible tools for cookieless tracking

There are a number of tools that marketers can use to perform cookieless tracking. Some of these tools are:

  • Device Fingerprinting: This method uses information about the device being used to uniquely identify it and capture behaviour patterns.
  • First-party data: This is data that is collected by a company directly from users. This can happen, for example, by signing up for a newsletter or using an app.
  • Server-to-server tracking: This method uses data transmitted during server requests to capture behavioural patterns.
  • Server log files: Server log files can be used to collect information about the use of a website, including the IP address, browser type and page views.

However, these technologies have their own challenges. Fingerprinting can be a privacy-intrusive process as it involves the use of information such as IP addresses, browser types and versions, screen resolutions and other information that creates a unique 'fingerprint' of the user. Session IDs and device IDs can also cause problems if they are changed, resulting in an inaccurate understanding of user activity.

Nevertheless, there are some tools that support cookieless tracking. Some of these tools are:

  • Matomo (formerly Piwik): This is an open-source web analytics tool that uses a combination of cookies and server logs.
  • Snowplow: This is another open-source web analytics tool that uses a combination of cookies and unique IDs.
  • Adobe Analytics: This commercial web analytics tool uses a combination of cookies and unique IDs.
  • Google Analytics: This is another commercial web analytics tool that uses a combination of cookies and unique IDs.

The future of cookieless tracking

The future of cookieless tracking is uncertain, as many browser manufacturers and operators of online services have already announced that they will restrict or even prevent the use of cookies. This is the first step towards a cookie-less world, where marketers will have to resort to alternative methods to collect and analyse user data. Therefore, cookieless tracking will likely become increasingly important in the future.

What marketers need to consider

While cookieless tracking is a great alternative to cookies, there are some things marketers need to keep in mind to be successful. Here are some tips that can help them:

  1. Technical requirements: Cookieless tracking requires specific technologies such as IP tracking, fingerprinting and user agent string analysis. Marketers should ensure that their tracking system supports these technologies.
  2. Legal considerations: Cookieless tracking may be restricted by law. Marketers must ensure that they comply with applicable laws, particularly regarding privacy and data security.
  3. Accuracy: Cookieless tracking may be less accurate than cookies as it relies on other methods to identify and track users. Marketers should ensure that they use a reliable system.
  4. Use of first-party data: Marketers should increase their efforts to collect first-party data to better understand their target audience.
  5. Adapting marketing strategies: Marketers need to adapt their marketing strategies to be prepared for low cookie environments. This can be done, for example, through the use of personalised email campaigns or better use of first-party data.


There are plusses and minuses to cookieless tracking. For one, it improves the data protection and privacy of users, as no cookies are stored on their devices — a big win for many. Even if the user blocks cookies, tracking remains active, which makes for better targeting.

However, cookieless tracking also comes with some challenges. It is technically more complex and more cost-intensive than traditional tracking with cookies. Tracking accuracy may also be compromised, as some devices or networks may support tracking while others do not.

Overall, when deciding whether or not to use cookieless tracking, one should carefully consider the advantages and disadvantages and take into account individual needs and requirements. It is also important to always keep an eye on the legal requirements, such as the General Data Protection Regulation (GDPR).