Cookieless tracking: privacy-compliant online marketing

The legal regulations on the web around the topic of data protection and the associated handling as well as the use of cookies on the part of advertisers can be confusing. We explain the legal framework and explain the different types of cookies, their tracking advantages and which types of tracking are still possible in the age of blocked cookies!

Cookieless tracking capabilities

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Fingerprint icon


Fingerprinting uses an algorithm to convert characteristics and settings from the user's terminal device into an ID that can be used to recognize the user.

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This variant uses the browser's cache. When a page is called up, an ID, the ETag, is stored in the cache for recognition until the cache is deleted.

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Authentication Cache

This method works similarly to the ETag, but here fictitious access data are automatically generated and stored in the cache.

Tracking without user identification and "hybrid" solutions

And last, but not least, there is of course the option of to collect relevant marketing and website usage datawithout identifying and "tracking" the user. This data can be collected on the basis of legitimate interest without the user's consent. This works via the browser: Information that is transmitted through the browser is compiled into an identifier (the so-called "hash method"). This information is constant during a visit. In this way, interactions with the same identifier can be assigned to a visit and users can be distinguished. No data is stored on the end devices. However, in order to meet the legitimate interest within the meaning of the GDPR and to prevent recognition over a longer period of time, the IP address of the users must also be anonymized. This is possible, for example, by adding a random value that changes daily. This method can also be used to collect the following information, among others

  • Recording of referrer and campaign parameters
  • Page views and allocation to areas based on the URL structure
  • Audio and video as well as external, mail and telephone link calls, downloads and individual click events
  • Devices used and browsers used including language settings

Some providers also offer so-called "hybrid" solutions. In this case, the consent query determines whether cookies may be set. If the user consents, the corresponding information is then collected via the use of cookies. If the user refuses, the cookieless tracking variant takes effect, which only collects data within the scope of legitimate interest.

Our conclusion

In the future, it will not become any easier to play out targeted advertising and measure the performance of websites and communication measures. But it is not impossible, and marketers should consider the alternatives in good time.

Our experts will be happy to support you on this topic as well as with further questions on the topics of performance marketing and marketing analytics!

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Sonja Rösler, Projects

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