Modernize your site tag management with a 1P tag manager

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While the future of data collection, storage and processing has changed dramatically and the definitions of first party and third party are constantly evolving, one thing is certain: the era of a limited cross-domain cookie is already there, kind of like the end of a 3P (aka cookieless) cookie.

The Death of the IDFA (and Tracking on iOS Devices)

Every Apple mobile device has a unique advertising identifier called IDFA. It identifies a device (and, by extension, its user) to display personalized advertisements. Advertisers use it extensively to track individuals. They do this by collecting demographic and behavioral profiles for a given IDFA and then sharing them with third parties, who use the data to improve how they segment and target users.

This happened without users knowing or consenting to it, but Apple is changing that with its new AppTrackingTransparency (ATT) framework. Starting with iOS 14.5, an app cannot track a user without first asking for their consent. Apple defines tracking as “the act of linking user or device data collected from your application with user or device data collected from applications, websites or offline properties of others companies for the purposes of targeted advertising or advertising measurement”. This is a broad definition. This encompasses everything from advertisers to analytics to marketing attribution. And for tracking to continue, a person must choose to be tracked. Even the most generous opt-in numbers show drastic reductions.

The effect sought by Apple is to considerably reduce this activity. However, in essence, it looks like Apple is implementing GDPR with its original intent.

Advertisers and publishers who have relied too heavily on Google Tag Manager (GTM) are now struggling to keep their marketing signals, metrics, and attribution stacks intact.

  • GTM is considered a tracker by all browsers outside of Chrome
  • Cross-domain cookies limit identity
  • 3P cookies are the new “evil”; cross-domain cookies are trackers
  • Enabling tracking on Google before running a script allows Google to see each user (for free)

And we are at the beginning of the cycle of change. Analytics links to Google Analytics are already not valid in the EU (France, Austria, Ireland).

Google Tag Manager is dead! Long live GTM!

I know that sounds ominous; well almost !

But it’s true when your tag management system is blocked about 25-40% of the time; it’s hard to imagine that website owners could just carry on as if nothing had happened. Ad blockers block approximately 35-50% of Google Tag Management, resulting in data loss for these site publishers. Don’t believe it — test it for free at truetraffic.io – True Traffic does not drop cookies or IDs against your consumer, but tells you how data loss impacts your business.

By using tag management systems like Google Tag, businesses and agencies lose visibility every time a customer or prospect blocking ads, iOS, Firefox, or browsing privately (40% of them) visit their site.

As every business is expected to think about how they should own data, build trust (consent) and think about compliance (regional and national laws), customer data must enter their infrastructure and control (controller) before be distributed to parties who must co-process their data (law).

By delegating the rules of the game to a third party, like Google Tag Manager, you are exposing your client to a third party before even asking for permission. It’s a classic catch-22, especially since Google is the world’s largest advertiser. To help alleviate this problem, Google introduced Google Tag Manager using GCP. However, the whole setup is cumbersome, expensive, and does not allow site controllers to own their data.

The first-party relationship — directly between you and your users — is preferred. There are no platform constraints on the data you collect yourself, although privacy regulations like GDPR and CPRA still require consent for specific uses and types of data.

To do this, you must collect, manage, analyze and share customer data in your warehouse yourself. Warehouse data can collect consent across platforms and even allow advertisers to decide how to share data. More importantly, you can analyze the data you’ve captured and only share what users consent to, allowing you to get the best of both worlds: understanding your users and engaging third parties where permitted.

So what is a 1P tag manager?

A proprietary tag manager runs in your domain (and under your control) and makes decisions for you in your infrastructure (serverless edge of your site or application) to decide which coprocessor can see your customer data, but you holding (the site or application) accountable for those decisions (controller). Essentially, it acts as a rules engine and a transformation engine, while replicating data to partners via an identification graph.

Today, even consent management systems are third-party and lose customer identity every seven days. This creates gaps and personalization issues for sites that have lost track of an existing customer identity through their CMP; a 1P tag handler solves this problem.

A 1P tag manager:

  • Keeps a copy of a universal identifier for life to map SaaS, consent, etc.,
  • Keeps a copy of the consent log against the lifetime ID,
  • Creates an identifier for data sharing and unsubscribes if necessary per partner,
  • Has the ability to transform data and make it harmless,
  • Has the ability to detect which region the client belongs to, and
  • Has the ability to plug in a new data co-processor by enabling consent for the same, just like the old Google Tag Manager.

Importantly, with a serverless edge tag manager, the data never leaves your “controller” infrastructure until you, the controller, decide to share it, strictly using software tools that don’t have access to those data. However, the big benefits are 100% visibility into your data, 100% control over who the company shares it with, and a relationship of trust with the customer.

What are the benefits?

The #1 benefit of a 1P tag manager is a lifetime identity that only belongs to the site domain. This identity helps catalog all necessary identification mappings, data sharing, opt-outs, consent log changes, etc. that should have been part of the tagging system.

So, instead of giving away your valuable customer data to others, you’d better manage the data yourself. To do this, you’ll need a first-party data warehouse that manages and analyzes user and campaign data in your own infrastructure. And, if designed correctly, it will allow you to adapt to technological and political changes – such as the breaking of the Privacy Shield in Europe – with relatively little difficulty.

As the future of privacy and trust continues to evolve, it’s essential to build trust while doing business globally, with features for zoning, enabling compliance and gaining insights from precise data for the reality of your business.

Mandar Shinde is CEO of Blotout.io.

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