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Most NetSuite Websites Are No Longer Tracking Safari Conversions for Adwords

This Fix is Required to Ensure Safari Conversions are Tracked

Why Was This Change Made?

In June, Apple introduced Intelligent Tracking Prevention, a major change to the way Safari handles third party cookies, which is the main way advertising companies gather data about users. The main goal is to limit the ability of large data mining companies to build extensive web history for all users using hidden tags that they don’t even know about. ITP mostly targets pervasive retargeting practices rather than disrupting advertisers’ ability to track ad campaign performance. In my opinion, this is a good thing for users, although it also reinforces the near monopoly of online ad market share for Google and Facebook. Due to the change, there are specific consequences for NetSuite websites.

What it Means for Site Builder and SuiteCommerce Advanced Websites

All NetSuite-hosted websites run on either site builder or SuiteCommerce Advanced (SCA), and many of the Site Builder websites have upgraded the checkout process to Reference Checkout or Site Builder Extensions (Vinson or Elbrus), which use the same underlying technology as SCA. The SSP checkout technology requires a tracking module, and there is a built-in module provided by NetSuite for Google Adwords that uses the ‘pixel only’ implementation, which most of these sites use. Since September 2017, any website that uses this module is no longer tracking conversions for Apple’s Safari browser, which makes up for more than 50% of mobile web traffic. This can play havoc with your ROI reporting and pay per click (PPC) management. I called Google’s tech support, and they confirmed that the pixel-only implementation is not tracking conversions for Safari.

Our New Tracking Module Fixes the Problem

The solution is to replace that default Adwords conversion tracking module (which doesn’t even track revenue) with one that uses the new JavaScript tracking code. This new format conforms with Sarafi’s new rules, and will ensure accurate conversion tracking for all your users. We have built, tested, and implemented a new tracker that we can install for you in one day. Contact us and let’s talk about fixing your tracking.

More Technical Details

Web developers and more technical people may appreciate these additional details:

  1. Google Analytics (GA) uses a first party cookie and will continue to track attributions properly – no fixes are needed. However, GA and Adwords use different methods for attributing sales, and I highly recommend having both systems working properly so you can compare if there are any questions.
  2. Following Apple’s guidelines, Google is storing information about the ad click on their servers, and uses GA to bring that information back in when a sale is made. This requires the JavaScript implementation of the Adwords conversion tracker, however.
  3. More details on the GA workaround:
    How does this new cookie work?
    The new Google Analytics cookie — called the _gac cookie — extends the usage of Google Analytics (GA) tracking to include AdWords conversion tracking. It will be used to store the ad click information when auto-tagging is enabled. From the support page, “Analtyics writes campaign information to the _gac cookie when a user opens a page on your site via a URL that employs AdWords auto-tagging.”

    The big difference is how the cookie is handled.

    Today, the conversion cookie is set on the Googleadservices.com domain, which means it is considered a third-party cookie. With this change, the new _gac cookie will be set on the advertiser’s domain, becoming a first-party cookie and acceptable to ITP. That means ad data associated with the user will remain intact for attribution and conversion reporting.

  4. Apple’s announcement about the change
  5. How Adwords tracks websites & how Google Analytics helps
  6. Advertisers complain about it.
  7. Apple responds, sticking to their guns
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I have been working with computers and web sites for 20+ years, and have enjoyed mastering many areas of technology. I have been building websites for about 15 years, and working with NetSuite for more than 10. I have worked with dozens of small and medium-sized companies in that time, helping them to understand and leverage the latest tools to grow their business. My business is all about helping you to maximize your business, and I prefer to establish long-term relationships with clients who are dedicated to embracing smart ways to optimize and expand their business.
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