Tracking options for a privacy-friendly website

In Piwik PRO, you can use several privacy settings that let you comply with applicable privacy laws. Each setting affects the accuracy of collected data, so you and your legal team need to decide which method to choose.

In this article, we’ll show you privacy settings and how they influence tracking.

First-party tracking

First-party tracking is a standard method of tracking that uses first-party cookies and other tracking methods to collect information about a website visitor and his behavior.

It lets you collect the most precise data and uses no privacy options. It’s recommended for websites that operate in regions that don’t have privacy guidelines or the privacy guidelines don’t require consent for collecting behavioral data about website visitors.

Settings:

  1. Turn off Consent Manager.

Note: With this method, you can still use an opt-out mechanism that lets visitors to opt out of tracking. (It’s a different mechanism from Consent Manager.)

Cookieless tracking

Cookieless tracking is a method that doesn’t use cookies for tracking purposes. When it is applied, Piwik PRO tracks a visitor based on the browser fingerprint with the IP address as the main differentiator.  

It lets you collect data without asking a visitor for cookie consent, but collected data is less accurate. This method is recommended for websites that want simple statistics and don’t want to bother with consent forms.

Settings:

  1. Disable cookies in Piwik PRO.

Note: With this method, you’ll still collect visitors` IP addresses that may be considered as personal data in some regions. You can additionally mask IP addresses with this setting.

Note: If you want to keep cookieless tracking on your website, you won’t be able to use the following features since they use additional cookies to operate:

  • Opt-out form.
  • Additional tags in Tag Manager like custom content, custom pop-up, and more.
  • Trigger conditions such as: traffic source, returning visitor, external referrer, campaign.
  • Multiplicity in triggers.

Anonymous data tracking (recommended)

Anonymous data tracking is a method that uses Consent Manager with an additional option that tracks anonymous data when a visitor doesn’t consent or doesn’t make a consent decision. With this method, Piwik PRO will track full data for visitors who agree to be tracked and partial data for other visitors. Piwik PRO will not collect a visitor’s IP address, will not use a browser’s fingerprint, and will use only one first-party session cookie that lasts 30 minutes. This way, visitors returning to your website can’t be re-identified, which protects their privacy.

This method lets you collect more data when you use Consent Manager. The data is less accurate when it comes to visitor metrics like unique visitors and visitor retention metrics. But it helps you enrich the database with the traffic that otherwise wouldn’t be recorded at all. It’s recommended for websites that need to follow specific privacy laws but want to squeeze out as much information as possible while staying privacy-friendly.

Settings:

  1. Turn on Consent Manager.
  2. Enable anonymous data tracking.

Opt-in only tracking

Opt-in only tracking is a method that uses our module called Consent Manager for collecting and managing visitors` consents. With this method, Piwik PRO will only collect data when visitors agree to be tracked. 

It lets you collect information in an ultra-privacy-friendly way, but the downside is that you’ll lose about 25 to 75 percent traffic data. That is all visitors that won’t consent to tracking. This method is recommended for websites that need to strictly comply with privacy regulations and are ready to collect fewer data.

Settings:

  1. Turn on Consent Manager.

Zero-identity tracking

Zero-identity tracking is a method that combines several privacy settings in Piwik PRO to enable the collection of as much data as possible without personal data. We call it zero-identity because this method doesn’t use cookies or any other visitor identification mechanisms and collects only anonymous data. Collected data is the least accurate out of all described methods because data are collected only for events and not for sessions.

This method lets you forget about cookie consents and data collection consents altogether. Yes, the data is not perfect, but it’s a method recommended for websites that need to stick with some rigid privacy rules and don’t want to use consent forms.

Settings:

  1. Turn on Consent Manager.
  2. Enable anonymous data tracking.
  3. Enable custom consent (but don’t add a custom consent form).
  4. Note: With this method, you’ll enable custom consent but won’t use it. Turning on a custom consent will stop Consent Manager from showing a default form unless you plug in a custom one. We set it this way because we want to use a mechanism in Consent Manager that allows anonymous data tracking, but we don’t want to show a consent form.

  5. Disable cookies in Piwik PRO.

Note: If you want to ensure no cookies are set for your visitors, you won’t be able to use the following features since they use additional cookies to operate:

  • Additional tags in Tag Manager like custom content, custom pop-up, and more.
  • Trigger conditions such as: traffic source, returning visitor, external referrer, campaign.
  • Multiplicity in triggers.

To recap now, let’s look at a table with a comparison of all listed methods.

First-party tracking Cookieless tracking Anonymous data tracking Opt-in only tracking Zero-identity tracking
Capture all traffic
Consent form Not required
Primary identification First-party cookie and local storage Browser fingerprint First-party session cookie and local storage First-party cookie and local storage None
Secondary identification (optional) Fingerprint and user ID User ID User ID Fingerprint and user ID
Visitor metrics Partly* ✔*
Session metrics ✔*
Event metrics ✔*
Channel attribution Session and visitor level Session level Session and visitor level* Session and visitor level Traffic sources only
Visitor’s IP address ✔** ✔**

* Data is collected only for visitors who agree to tracking.
** No visitor’s IP address means that the address is not saved to the database but the geolocation information about continent and country is saved. In reports you’ll see 0.0.0.0 for these sessions and visitors.

Note: In each method, you can additionally mask visitors` IP addresses with this setting.

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