Last year Google released new optional feature that was claimed to decrease the probability of bounce - Parallel Tracking. Since October 30, Parallel Tracking is no longer optional but is a must for all accounts.
Originally, when a Google Ads link was clicked, the customers had to go through one or more redirects before they saw the final page. The redirects typically took milliseconds, although it could be longer on mobile devices and poor connections.
According to Google research, even five second loading time increases the bounce by 90%. That is why Google came up with the solution to that problem announcing Parallel Tracking as a way to speed up page loading by processing tracking requests in the background. Not only does it reduce lost visits, but also makes a good effect on conversion rates and ad performance.
Despite obvious pros, Parallel Tracking may also bring new challenges to the affiliate marketing industry.
Let’s have a look at some of those challenges.
Parallel Tracking processes only certain kind of tracking templates. Thus, networks and platforms that use custom tracking templates may not be compatible with it. In addition, while tracking can be carried out by URL parameters and on-page redirect methods (i.e. with the use of js), the latter are omitted by Parallel Tracking. In case of incompatibility, the tracking process will be terminated, stopping on the last proper URL. Consequently, the page (either tracking or landing one) may not even work. While the user would not spot any difference, you may not be able to gain the tracking information.
Therefore, Parallel Tracking implies passing certain data to match the user and using compatible tracking templates. Otherwise, it will be impossible to identify the source of the clicks as well as any specific data. It would be hard to approve or disapprove any information, i.e. given by the publisher. Without the proper data, you are essentially flying blind and unable to make thorough decisions regarding the payouts and further campaign optimisations.
First Party tracking in third party context
Since Safari and Firefox applied new protective measures that block third-party cookies within their browsers, the amount of consumer data that could be tracked is limited. However, while the browsers prevent almost any traffic from being tracked with help of third-party domains (i.e. that are not associated with the domain that hosts your landing page or application), the tracking may still be carried out by first-party cookies that are on the same domain with the landing page or application.
This loophole is eliminated by Parallel Tracking, though. As first-party cookies set on redirect are written in a third-party context, it would not matter which domains are used as they are most likely to be interrupted.
Parallel Tracking: friend or foe?
By now, it is difficult to say whether Parallel Tracking has more pros or cons. As per Google, the aims behind it were to decrease the bounce rate of users before the page finally loads, as well as to fight to cloak - fraud method, when search engine and the user are shown different versions of the same page.
But every coin has two sides, and we see that the market can meet the obstacles it is not ready to. And the main one which can be observed above is possible data loss. As Parallel Tracking is just a new type of tracking, it has only two options of operation: to work or not to work. And if it is not working correctly, the data will be lost. Should we say that data is the basis of any decision applied within the market? This may lead to an increase in costs, a decrease in profits, and failures of ad campaigns.
Is this just a new technology that everybody will get used to? The only thing that matters is how fast the affiliate marketing industry will adapt to the new conditions.