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A ‘cookieless’ future for analytics and advertising

The marketing technology landscape is changing, and we need to think about our analytics and tag management solutions.

Google changes

In January 2022 Google will, by default, block third-party cookies in Google Chrome.

Consumers demand increased online privacy; improved cookie handling is one response. But it’s not only the technology, but the philosophy of anonymous tracking that’s being targeted. Some estimates suggest 85% of the ‘cookie-based ecosystem’ could be affected.

This follows similar moves from Firefox and Safari – so it’s not new – but as Chrome accounts for over 50% of traffic to University’s central site, we can’t ignore it. These changes may impact first-party cookies, so we need to be aware of the full range of our analytics, retargeting and site optimisation mechanisms.

What’s left when the cookie goes away? – Search Engine Watch

Google Analytics 4

Coincidental, I’m sure, is that the new version of Google Analytics (Google Analytics 4) has the potential for cookie-free data collection.

The new Google Analytics

University of Edinburgh response

We’re taking proactive action to ensure we’re not negatively affected by these changes.

Knowing the impact of wider market changes, along with understanding current business needs, will be vital in designing a usable and sustainable tag management solution in our new Web Publishing Platform.

The road to the new University website platform and services

Web advertising

The University of Edinburgh uses cookies to provide targeted advertising.

University of Edinburgh central site privacy and cookie policy

In the immediate term, advertising in our central site should not be affected by these changes.  We only use first-party data, and do not share data beyond our immediate purpose.

However, the accuracy and usability of our advertising may be limited in relation to:

  • Audience scale and data granularity
  • User specific targeting
  • Performance tracking
  • Optimisation and frequency capping

Any changes to this understanding will be communicated through our web community mailing list.

Sign up for the website community mailing list (University login required)

Web analytics review

These change has prompted us to review how we manage analytics support. We must ensure:

  • We have sufficient data – we’ve added the new code to our site, alongside existing implementations, to build historical data before migrating
  • Only relevant data is collected – data lets us make informed decisions about our site, but we need to respect user privacy
  • We’re prepared to move people, as well as technology – our staff need to gain familiarity (and create support materials) before any migration

How you can help

We want to talk to you about your needs for advertising and analytics. If you have time to talk to us, please get in touch.

Contact University of Edinburgh website support

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