Well for a long time I have lost sleep troubled by this subject and thought it was best to not shout out anything untoward. Everything seems rosey in the online tracking world when it comes to digital marketing. Accountability for spend is simple with extreme metrics for every bit of content being consumed on the Internet that is tracked to a specific goal. What can be more accountable than online marketing spend, with all its fancy metrics, like post engagement, post view, post click, attribution and ROI.
Well how wrong can we all be? Digital marketing metrics are at best a rough indicator and at worse are wildly inaccurate and prove that digital is immeasurable under its current framework of relying on cookies. The very same cookies that consumers hate and that browsers like chrome and mozilla want to restrict and that Adblockers now prevent from being set. Not to mention virus softeware being specifically very suspicious of every third party cookie.
Before we talk about the breaking of cookies (3rd party ones) as a tracking method, which have been the bed rock of digital martketing for all of the 16 years I have been involved in tracking.
Lets not forget that 33% of clicks are from bots, that 50% of all ad impressions are not seen.
These stats are troublesome enough. But what concerns me even more is this.
I am now plowing all my efforts and expertise working for the largest cashback shopping site in the country http://www.cashrewards.com.au
We rely on third party cookies to track all of our sales from Kogan, Booktopia, David Jones and eBay etc. in order to give our community members cashback on every sale they make.
If you don’t know what Cash Back is then wake up its 2016 this model has been going in the UK for nearly 12 years and has a 10% market penetration, here is a video of how it works. The concept is so simple.
So our members buy things from these retailers and then wait for the cookie tracking to work.
However it is not as simple as that.
About 1% of all our members activity is not tracked (for some reason more on this later) and they contact us to complain. Whilst this is far from perfect it makes me think about all those that do not complain and completely lose trust in the mechanism.
We have had emails from our members asking where their tracking receipt is from merchants like Dan Murphy’s or eBay when clearly they have received their goods. All of these users send us the invoice as proof of purchase some send us pictures of them drinking their products as well. Others ask where their tracking receipt is after they have returned from a holiday to the South of France these members send pictures of them visiting chateaus, but still their sales do not track.
So this is my point, cookies are out by anything up to 20%,
33% of clicks are from bots http://www.businessinsider.com.au/bots-and-fake-traffic-2014-3?r=US&IR=T , and
77% of impressions are unseen https://www.clickz.com/clickz/column/2301708/77-of-display-ads-are-never-seen-sticky
33% of all programmatic ad impressions on mobile are fake http://venturebeat.com/2015/12/10/33-of-all-programmatic-ad-impressions-on-mobile-could-be-fake/
The ecosystem is broken. And no one cares accept your customers.
It is 2016 we can split a nucleus of an atom in tinier and tiner parts but we can not track online behaviour using cookies.
What I propose is for Advertisers who value their most trusted sources of traffic and sales to use an integrated URL Encrypted Token server side tracking technology.
We use this to 100% accurately all of our Woolworth’s gift card purchases.
The method is simple we are given an encrypted token by Woolworth’s which we pass in every click. Woolworth’s identify the token as a trusted source and displays exactly the content that is relevant to the consumer, the consumer then purchases and Woolworth’s do a server to server call to pass the data directly into our database in real time.
No (3rd party) cookies, no discrepancy, no problem.
Now I am not saying every traffic source requires this type of integration as that would be costly but if one site is delivering 1% of your sales then it would make sense to generate a proper tracking system that is 100% more robust than cookies.
The consumer can then take the actions advertisers are hoping for and that marketers can then correctly measure their campaign performance.
The problems with cookies
- They can be blocked by almost any browser plug, virus software, Ad Blocker
- They can be deleted at any time
- They are not trusted by users
- They can be corrupted
- They are antiquated it is 2016 and I can not think of one significant improvement in cookie tracking a reliability
Using cookie tracking is like driving around in a Ford Cortina when the rest of the world is demanding a Tesla
What do you think, do you think that cookie tracking is reliable and how inaccurate is acceptable?
For us we need 100% reliability all the time. These cookies are broken and all that is left is the crumbs.