Ever wondered how those online ads seem to follow you from site to site, almost as if they’ve been reading your mind? Well, it’s not telepathy, but a technique called cross website tracking.
In today’s guide, we’ll delve into the intricate mechanisms that make cross website tracking tick. We’ll explore the laws and regulations that keep cross website tracking in check and arm you with practical strategies to protect your online presence.
By the end of this ride, you’ll know just how to navigate the exciting but complex digital landscape while staying in control of your privacy.
Cross Website Tracking: What You Need To Know
Cross website tracking, also known as cross-site tracking, refers to how businesses and marketers track a user’s online activities across multiple websites. The primary function of this technique is to gather data about a user’s behavior, preferences, and interests.
The Process: How Cross Website Tracking Works
When you visit a website, small files called cookies are often stored on your device. These cookies contain information about your visit and are used to remember your preferences and track your online activities.
Here are the steps in a nutshell:
- You visit a website that allows third-party cookies.
- A cookie from an advertising network (the third party) is stored on your device.
- As you continue browsing and visiting other websites that use the same advertising network, the network tracks your activities using the stored cookie.
- The collected data is used to build a profile about you to be used for personalized advertising or to enhance your online experience.
6 Common Uses Of Cross Website Tracking
Let’s explore some of the most common uses in detail.
1. Personalized Advertising
Businesses gather data about your interests, preferences, and behaviors. This data is then used to serve you ads tailored to your tastes and interests.
2. Behavioral Targeting
This involves collecting data about your online activities and using it to predict your future behavior. Businesses can then tailor their offers based on these predictions. As an example, businesses like this online lingerie brand can use these insights to tailor their product line offers based on these predictions, ensuring you get to see products that align with your interests and preferences.
3. Website Analytics & Performance Metrics
Cross website tracking examines metrics like the most visited pages, average time spent on the site, and bounce rate. Businesses can make necessary improvements to their website design and user experience.
For instance, this platform connecting freelancers with projects could use these insights to fine-tune its user interface. The goal would be to create a seamless journey, from the moment a user lands on their page to when they connect with a project. This in-depth analysis helps in shaping more efficient and user-friendly platforms.
4. Affiliate Marketing
Cross website tracking is often used to trace these visitors or customers back to the original affiliate, ensuring that the affiliate is correctly compensated for their efforts.
5. Social Media Tracking
Social media platforms also use cross website tracking to collect data about user’s browsing habits, which is then used to provide personalized content and targeted ads.
6. Enhancing User Experience
Cross website tracking tracks users’ preferences for a user-focused user experience that feels intuitive and engaging.
It can also improve common navigation patterns, making it easier for users to find what they’re looking for. For example, a dog training company could use these insights to ensure that users can easily find and navigate to their dog boot camp page, to enhance the user experience.
While these applications can enhance online experiences and help businesses thrive, you need to know how your data is used and take steps to protect your privacy when necessary.
3 Legal Aspects of Cross Website Tracking: Data Protection Regulations Around The World
Across the globe, various legal frameworks have been established to protect users’ privacy and regulate cross website tracking, these include:
I. The European Union’s General Data Protection Regulation (GDPR)
II. The California Consumer Privacy Act (CCPA)
The CCPA gives California residents the right to know what personal information is collected, the purpose of its collection, whether it is sold or disclosed, and to whom. It requires businesses to ask for consent from users before tracking their activities.
III. Other Regional Laws
Countries and regions like Canada with its Personal Information Protection and Electronic Documents Act (PIPEDA) and Australia with its Privacy Act, enacted laws to protect online user privacy. These regulations include principles around consent, transparency, and the right to access and correct personal information.
So what happens if you don’t comply?
Non-compliance can be fined up to €20 million or 4% of their annual global turnover, whichever is higher. Penalties under the CCPA can reach up to $7,500 per intentional violation.
Now what would this mean for you as an internet user? How do you protect data and avoid pitfalls you’ll regret?
How To Protect Your Privacy From Cross Website Tracking
While cross website tracking can improve your online experiences, it’s understandable if you feel like you need a little more control over your data and privacy, even as a business owner. Fortunately, you can protect your privacy.
A. Tweak Browser Settings For Privacy
- Adjust your browser settings: Most browsers allow you to block third-party cookies directly from the settings. For instance, in Google Chrome, you can go to Settings > Privacy and Security> Cookies and other site data > Block third-party cookies.
- Use a private browsing mode: Browsers like Chrome (Incognito mode), Firefox (Private Browsing), and Safari (Private Window) have modes that don’t store cookies once you close your session. It’s like taking a stroll without leaving any footprints behind.
- Consider a privacy-focused browser: If you’re serious about privacy, consider switching to a browser like Brave or Tor to prioritize blocking tracking technologies.
Remember, though, blocking third-party cookies might affect some functionalities of the websites you visit. Some sites might not load properly, and others might require you to allow cookies to access certain features. It’s all about striking a balance that suits you best.
B. Utilize Privacy Tools
- Ad and tracking blockers: Extensions like uBlock Origin, Ghostery, and Privacy Badger can block ads and trackers.
- Virtual Private Networks (VPNs): A VPN can hide your IP address, making it harder for websites to track your activities.
C. Clear Your Browser History Regularly
Clearing your browser history not only deletes your browsing history but also wipes out cookies and other tracking data.
We’ve journeyed across website tracking’s many facets. But as we’ve seen, with this power comes responsibility—both for businesses in respecting user privacy and adhering to data protection laws.
In the digital landscape of today, understanding cross website tracking is more than just optional—it’s essential. But there’s more to learn. If you’re a business owner looking for ways to grow and protect your business. Check out our blogs to know the latest in the business world.
Burkhard Berger is the founder of Novum™. He helps innovative B2B companies implement revenue-driven SEO strategies to scale their organic traffic to 1,000,000+ visitors per month. Curious about what your true traffic potential is?