Optimizely Data Platform (ODP) Lite tracks visitors using browser cookies. When a visitor lands on your website, ODP Lite checks for an existing tracking cookie. If one does not exist, ODP Lite associates a cookie with that visitor and registers their on-site behaviors (like page views) moving forward, resulting in identity resolution and event collection.
There are two types of cookies: first-party cookies and third-party cookies. To enable event collection and user resolution, ODP Lite stores first-party cookies specific to the brand’s website.
- First-party cookies – Stored by the domain the customer visited.
- Third-party cookies – Set by another domain, such as an ad server or ad platform engaging in cross-site tracking or retargeting of website visitors with ads or an on-site service (like a chat or login feature).
How ODP Lite tracks and identifies customers
- ODP Lite tracks visitors, using first-party cookies, before they become a known customer.
- When a visitor fills out a web embed or modal, ODP Lite associates their previous anonymous page views based on their tracking cookie. If a customer in ODP Lite already has that email address, ODP Lite identifies this visitor as the customer.
- ODP Lite uses customer identifiers, such as a customer's email address and the VUID included in a customer's cookie, to determine which events are associated with the customer and if events from "different" visitors should be merged.
- If a visitor deletes their cookies, ODP Lite considers them a new visitor and assigns them a new cookie. However, ODP Lite automatically applies user resolution and merges submissions coming from the same email address, even if different cookies were associated with those submissions.
- If a customer uses a different browser or blocks cookies and does not provide identifiable information (such as email address or login information) in their subsequent visits, ODP Lite counts them as multiple unique visitors.
- If multiple people share a single computer and browser, their submissions result in unique customer profiles as long as they use a unique customer identifier (such as an email address). The profile associated with the most recent submission would inherit the shared browser cookie/VUID, and ODP Lite incorporates all events into that profile until another high-confidence submission from one of the "secondary" users occurs.
The privacy and security scrutiny that third-party cookies face does not impact ODP Lite functionality as it exists today. For more information about compliance and consent, see these articles.
- Google Chrome’s SameSite update in February 2020 – Impacts access to third-party cookies through non-secure connections and requires the third-party cookie to properly identify that cross-site access is being requested.
- Google Chrome phases out third-party cookies in 2022 – Impacts the ability to set third-party cookies in Chrome. Google is proposing to replace tracking cookies with to-be-determined solutions that do not provide 1:1-level tracking but still allow for targeting, and block third-party cookies by default in Chrome. Google has not mentioned any impact to first-party cookies at this time.
- Apple’s Intelligent Tracking Prevention (ITP) for Safari – Safari continues to block third-party cookies by default. ITP attempts to identify first-party cookies that are acting as third-party trackers using redirects/bounce tracking, URL decoration, local storage and other specific practices designed to enable ad targeting. Standard site browsing/serving operations do not commonly use these methods. ITP is unlikely to target a brand’s own first-party cookies.