The 90s have called and want their tracking back

Dear Data-Traveller, please note that this is a Linkedin-Remix.

I posted this content about tracking without user identifier already on Linkedin in August 2022, but I want to make sure it doesn’t get lost in the social network abyss.

For your accessibility-experience and also for our own content backup, we repost the original text here.

Have a look, leave a like if you like it, and join the conversation in the comments if this sparks a thought!

Link to Post

Screenshot with Comments:

Screenshot of Timo Dechau´s Linkedin post with text about tracking without consent

Plain Text:

The 90s have called and want their tracking back.

This weekend I did some retro tracking experiments.

In general, an identity problem is one of the issues we have in collecting data. 

Because it’s so convenient, we fall back to the most significant proxy we can get > the user identifier (cookie_id, user_id, device_id, you name it).

Because from an identified user, we can derive a lot of things. Even things that have no direct relationship to the user at all. For example, a signup funnel – we want to know the performance of the steps usually for a marketing source—so there is no need to use any user identifier. 

But all tracking SDKs are built in that way > you define any user identifier and use it later to create your funnels.

But in our example above, the identifier is the marketing campaign. If we can attribute all events to this campaign, it’s sufficient for analyzing campaign performance. So there is no need for user tracking.

It is now coming back to the 90s.

The simplest way to do a campaign-first tracking would be to add the campaign identifier to a cookie and read it from there. This would require consent (even when you use a very aggregated level of data).

A different approach is to pass through the marketing identifier in your URLs, like in the early days of analytics.

I built a POC yesterday that reads UTMs and referrers, generates a marketing identifier, and adds it to all links on the page. And then makes sure that stays there during all user journey. In track, it uses the marketing identifier as user_id instead of user identifiers. 

It needs now some days to collect some data.