New Podcast: Umi & a Cup of Tea |LISTEN NOW

Tech & Trends

The Cookieless Web for Hotels – 2022

01 August 2022


Our recent marketing intern Quinn took a closer look at the current cookie situation and created this sequel to our guide to privacy-first websites. Enjoy!

Although Google announced that their cookieless approach will be delayed until at least 2024, now is the time to prepare and get your data collection sorted. Google’s Privacy Sandbox initiative, the tech company’s cookieless technology solution, will also be heavily tested in the meantime, by both advertisers and publishers.

Cookieless describes a way of marketing in which marketers are less reliant on cookies. Why does this matter? Well, getting rid of third-party cookies means no more cross-site tracking for marketers and more privacy for users. Marketers need to implement cookieless solutions in addition to using first-party cookies to track users and effectively show ads that are relevant.  

First-Party vs. Third-Party Cookies 

The word “cookie” has appeared repeatedly, but what does it mean? Well, cookies are bits of data collected from a website that contain personal identifiers. The cookies are then saved to your web browser and used to remember information about you. There are two types of cookies: first-party and third-party cookies. 

If you place a cookie on a user’s device, it’s a first-party cookie and will still be allowed. Information collected might include:

If the cookie follows the user around the web or isn’t your cookie, it’s a third-party cookie and will no longer be allowed. Information collected is used to:

Why is Google getting rid of cookies?

Tech giants such as Google are addressing user privacy and cybersecurity concerns that have been growing steadily. Google believes that “people shouldn’t have to accept being tracked across the web to get the benefits of relevant advertising. And advertisers don’t need to follow individual consumers across the web to get the performance benefits of digital advertising. “

Of course, Google’s decision is not purely altruistic. They understand that with increasing regulatory restrictions, alternatives to cookies are not a sustainable long-term investment. However, let’s take a look at the possible alternatives. 

Hashed Email Tracking 

For many years, marketers have said that hashed email tracking will be the future of marketing, and it looks like they’re right. We are all familiar with emails, but the hashing portion might be new to some. “Hashing” takes a user’s email address and encodes it using a cryptogenic hashing function. This hashing function creates jumbled characters (hash) representing the email address. The hashed email contains a set number of characters, depending on the type of hash used (MD5, SHA-1, SHA-2).

Furthermore, the hash cannot be decrypted, and each email will have its distinctive hexadecimal string. No matter how often you run the email through the algorithm, it will come out the same way and be matched back. This method allows marketers to track individuals through numerous channels and devices. Please think of the hashed email as a user’s digital passport, identifying them (anonymously) and monitoring them every step. 

Google’s Privacy Sandbox 

Google’s Privacy Sandbox is Google’s potential alternative to third-party cookies. The Privacy Sandbox is a series of proposals to satisfy cross-site use cases and improve user privacy without third-party cookies or other tracking tactics. However, don’t get too excited yet; these series proposals are still in testing. Furthermore, there are 5 APIs being tested, but there are 3 in particular that will allow advertisers to measure digital ads and show relevant content and ads to users. Google plans to display related content and ads through Topics API and FLEDGE API and measure digital ads through Attribution Reporting API. There is a lot of scepticism and excitement around Google’s initiative, but there is hope that this will be a viable cookieless solution. 

Google Server-Side Tagging 

Server-side tagging is a new way to use Google Tag Manager. Server containers will continue using the same tag, trigger, variable model, and new tools to measure user activity anywhere. A tagging configuration with server-side tagging runs differently than a traditional configuration due to the data being sent to a server you control. Therefore you can determine how the information is shaped and where it is routed. How does this configuration work exactly? Well, the server receives web requests from the user’s device and transforms those requests into something the container understands (events). Each event is then processed by the container’s tags, triggers, and variables. The measurement data gets from the user’s device to the server container and is turned into an event through a client. Clients are the connection between the website activity on a user’s device and your server container. This cookie alternative allows you to send data to different platforms through a server that you control. 

The Impact 

With change comes adjustments and different challenges. For example, Remarketing will be a challenge but is being tackled by allowing advertisers to create their audiences without using third-party cookies. On the other hand, the impact on Digital advertising shouldn’t be that noticeable in the long run. Of course, there will be fluctuations, but that is normal. Google is promising results for advertisers and publishers through their privacy-preserving APIs that prevent individual tracking but provide enough information for a reliable ROI. As far as cookieless affecting hotels and travel businesses, these businesses will have to shift to different types of marketing such as email marketing, Google Search marketing, Facebook ads, remarketing, and the web changing to a logged-in environment. 

Even though the cookie situation is somewhat uncertain, and it might be challenging to choose the best alternative for your business, it is essential to remember to be open and not focus on just one. Prioritize a holistic or integrated marketing approach across the entire funnel to optimize your direct booking strategy.

Get in touch with an expert

Ready to chat?

Book in a 30 minute meeting with one of our experts to discuss your project or goals.