At AT Internet, we are continuously developing our products to provide you with an audience measurement solution built on reliable data within a secure ecosystem.
The latest market and technological developments have led us to review one of our traditional tracking methods: redirect tracking.
Link tracking methods
Before presenting the redirect method, let us consider the classic method, known as the “direct method".
The direct method
We know that measurement and analysis of the performance of marketing campaigns is an essential part of any audience measurement tool. For this reason, we have put in place campaign tracking methods that allow you to analyse your different marketing channels.
You are probably familiar with the traditional version of our campaign tracking solution, the “xtor" URL parameter, and its updated version, the "at_medium” etc. parameters.
The direct method involves simply integrating these parameters into your campaign URLs as follows:
It is a standard solution with a promising future!
The redirect method
The redirect method works differently:
The clicked campaign URL redirects to AT Internet's servers before taking the user to the destination page. During this operation, a third-party cookie is placed on the website xiti.com, allowing campaign data to be linked to the visit.
But redirect tracking is not only used for campaigns!
This method can also be used to measure clicks on a website, for example. It was used in older browsers to ensure that clicks were correctly taken into account:
Sounds a bit complicated? Don’t worry, soon none of that will be needed anymore!
Today, we use new dedicated methods (browser APIs) to guarantee the reliability of sent clicks. That way we are sure to collect them all!
Why end the redirect tracking method?
As we explained in the introduction, we are constantly reviewing our products to provide the most relevant and reliable functionalities.
Three factors prompted us to make this decision.
The end of third-party cookies
This is a hot topic today, although the issue has been around for some years.
Safari has offered third-party cookie blocking for more than 10 years and Firefox followed suit with its blocking services based on a defined list of third parties. In 2020, Chrome also announced the end of third-party cookie support by 2022.
Unfortunately, as we have already seen, redirect tracking relies on the use of third-party cookies!
The performance of your marketing traffic sources will therefore be affected for browsers that do not support these cookies.
This does not mean that AT Internet no longer supports third-party cookies in general. For example, you will still be able to use third-party cookies for tracking internet users within environments that allow you to do so while respecting user privacy.
However, we believe that campaign performance analysis cannot be based on a technology that is going out of use.
The evolution of SDKs at AT Internet
You may have noticed that, with the introduction of the Analytics Suite Delta, we are providing a brand-new data model with unprecedented power and flexibility.
This new data model cannot be powered forever by our current SDKs.
Therefore, in line with the development of audience measurement techniques, we will be making new tracking tools available in the coming months designed for the collection of data on events and properties to allow you to exploit the full potential of your Analytics Suite Delta.
These new libraries will use the latest technology standards on the market, something that will greatly complicate the use of redirect tracking methods.
You may also have noticed that the “at_medium" campaign tracking mentioned above does not use these methods today.
The security and availability of our clients’ environments
Providing a leading analytics suite can make us a target for attacks, which is something that our security teams take very seriously!
The use of redirection can lead to malicious parties using AT Internet's identity to redirect users to corrupted domains. This is called open redirect vulnerability.
Moreover, use of the redirect tracking method integrates us into your infrastructure!
This is because redirections transit via AT Internet, making us the guarantors of safe delivery to the final URL, a URL that belongs to you.
What impact will this have?
From 31 December 2021, redirect tracking methods will no longer be supported by AT Internet.
As a result, any campaigns, clicks or other elements that use this method will no longer be counted and will not allow your visitors to access the final URL.
We therefore invite you to check the tracking methods used in your environments as soon as possible and put in place a plan to migrate to the direct tracking method.
Do not hesitate to contact our support centre if you have any questions on the subject.