Cookie-less tracking. It’s being touted as a workaround to data protection laws and the privacy settings of browsers. In reality, it’s just an alternative method of storing data (known as local storage) that doesn’t rely on cookies.

But that changes nothing in terms of GDPR. It doesn’t matter that cookies and local storage treat data differently. Fact is, you’re still processing data. If a visitor opts out of tracking, then monitoring them with local storage is still breaking the law. So, unless you’re a developer, there are no benefits to moving.

As this ‘cookie-less’ tracking is generating a bit of buzz online, we asked: is it all it’s cracked up to be?

What are cookies?

The term ‘cookie’ is used to describe a packet of data that’s used to identify your computer. This data is stored on a user’s web browser and helps sites keep track of their visits and activity.

A good example of this is when retailers use cookies to keep track of your shopping basket. Without cookies, the basket would reset every time you click a new link. The same is true of websites that allow you to tick that ‘remember my username’ box.

Cookies like these are largely harmless. First-party cookies – like the ones ResponseTap uses – are used to enhance your experience online. But it’s the third-party tracking cookies that have a particularly bad reputation – they allow organisations you don’t know to monitor what you’re doing online.

What is local storage?

Local storage is another way for businesses to store data. A lot more data. For this reason, it’s popular with web applications that need to store vast amounts of information in order to provide a better customer experience.

While both cookies and local storage involve storing information on the user’s local disk, local storage doesn’t need to send data back and forth with every HTTP request.

In terms of call tracking though, the differences are almost non-existent.

Why do some analytics tools use local storage instead of cookies?

Some web applications switched to local storage as browsers started treating it differently to cookie storage: they didn’t apply their tracking prevention policies (designed to block third-party tracking) to it. But this is no longer the case. For example, Safari caps the lifetime of all script-writeable website data after a navigation with link decoration from a classified domain (more on that here).

Why are ResponseTap still using cookies?

Because Google Analytics uses cookies for their tracking. And if it’s good enough for the leaders in tracking technology, it’s good enough for us.

Google Analytics uses cookies because local storage is bound by the same-origin policy. If parts of your site are on different subdomains, then you can’t use local storage to measure activity between those pages.

As ResponseTap does allow you to track subdomains, and we don’t need to store masses of data in the browser, we stand firmly with cookies. And treat local storage and cookies the same, there’s little advantage to what has recently been dubbed as ‘cookie-less’ tracking.

Uncover the customer journey with us

Ready to measure marketing campaign success with call conversion data? Get in touch with a member of our team today.

All you need to do is book your demo and we’ll walk you through how ResponseTap can help you gain a more complete understanding of your campaigns.