At this point, most marketers know that Google’s Chrome browser willstop supporting third-party cookies in early 2022. The purpose is a noble one: guard against unauthorized tracking of individuals across the internet. But moving away from third-party cookies also poses a challenge. Their primary usefulness is grounded in providing rich insights into user journeys across the web; finding new ways to gather those insights requires both marketers and customers to adapt.

That’s why Salesforce Pardot developed a first-party tracking service that allows customers to keep providing personalized experiences based on user journeys and continue serving relevant content at the right time.

What is a third-party cookie?

The general purpose of a web cookie is to store data within a user’s internet browser that a website or web service can access on subsequent visits. For instance, an online vendor may use a cookie to identify a user so that user can maintain their shopping cart between site visits.  

Third-party cookies are cookies set by a service provider that doesn’t share the same root domain as the website. Think about the practice of embedding a video player service (videoexample.com) into a page on your website (example.com) that stores the time watched so a user can restore their view across sessions. Since the video service doesn’t share a domain with the website, the cookie set by the service would be a third-party cookie.

Why are third-party cookies going away?

While third-party cookies are often used to provide better customer experiences, they also pose significant privacy risks.  

Can you think of a time when a product ad seemed to follow you across websites? Third-party cookies made that possible. They also enable Cross-Site Request Forgery, which forces users to complete unwanted actions on web applications in which they’re currently authenticated.

In an effort to become more privacy-friendly, all major web browsers are ending their third-party cookie support. Safari and Firefox have already discontinued use. But the biggest impact will come when the market leader, Chrome, ends their support in early 2022.

How will this impact engagement tracking in Pardot?

In a soon-to-be-cookieless world, first-party tracking can help you maximize the data you collect firsthand from customers, so you can continue to provide the personalized marketing experiences they expect. However, moving from a third-party to first-party tracking approach will result in a few key impacts to engagement tracking in Pardot.

The main one is that Pardot customers will be unable to track visitors anonymously across domains. This will be true for everyone moving to first-party tracking, whether they?re a Pardot customer or using another platform. This means:

  • When a customer visits firstbrand.com, then secondbrand.com, two visitors will be created by Pardot.
  • The customer will need to complete a form on both domains for this information to be linked.

The second big impact is that Pardot customers will have to align the domains for all of their assets in a campaign to properly track the user journey. Domain alignment will be key to maximizing engagement data in a cookieless world.

Aligning domains to maximize tracking

Let’s consider a typical campaign that includes an ad, a landing page, form, whitepaper, and an email.

The only way to track this entire journey is to ensure that all the links and assets share the same root domain as the tracker domain. For example, if your campaign website is sampledomain.com, then the root of the tracker domain must also be sampledomain.com. Otherwise, your activity insights will be incomplete.

Preparing to migrate to first-party tracking

When converting to first-party tracking, a little planning will go a long way. We recommend completing these steps ahead of time:

  • Assess your web properties to see which tracker domains you may be missing for domain alignment, and fill any gaps.
  • Note which websites you’re currently tracking to identify where you’ll need to replace the Pardot tracking code.
  • Review your Pardot-hosted content and ensure domain alignment. Pardot-hosted content will use first-party tracking as soon as it’s turned on. 

Turning on first-party tracking in Pardot

You can turn on first-party tracking with just a few clicks. First, go to the Pardot Settings edit page (or Account Settings in classic Pardot).

To enable first-party tracking, simply click on the “Use First-Party Tracking” setting. 

By default, the “Use third-party cookies with first-party tracking” setting will turn on at the same time. You can use this setting to help make the transition smoother and preserve existing visitors.

The “Use third-party tracking” setting controls the legacy tracking functionality, from accepting activity for pages with the old tracker code to removing the old tracker code generator on the Campaigns page. We recommend turning this off after you’ve fully converted to first-party tracking to avoid potential confusion.

Configuring tracker domains for first-party tracking

The good news is that creating tracker domains hasn’t changed much. The main differences are:

  • You need to set a default campaign
  • The location of the tracker code generator is different

Setting a default campaign

When you set a default campaign, you’re setting a primary campaign for your tracker domain. This means you can change the campaign without changing the tracking code. Select the default campaign by clicking “Edit” for each tracker domain on the Domain Management page.

Finding tracking code generator

The tracking code generator is now located on the Domain Management page, just below the “Tracker Domains” configurations.

Simply select the tracker domain and the platform will auto-generate the appropriate tracker code for you to place on your website. Remember to select a tracker domain that aligns with your website’s domain or that activity won’t be tracked. 

Keep learning

Now that you have a better understanding of first-party tracking, don’t wait to start your migration assessment!

Find tips for implementing Pardot’s first-party tracking in our help documentation.

Find more context on the changing browser privacy landscape in this blog post.

This blog post is part of our security, privacy, and technology series.

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