Cookies are Going Away – This Will Impact Surveys

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Written by Rich Ratcliff
CIO of OpinionRoute

In 2008 while I was President of another research firm, our lead programmer pointed out to me that 20% of our survey takers were on mobile devices.  Yet, all of our surveys until then were assuming a respondent was taking our survey on a desktop. Immediately we began catering to the mobile experience. This simple change earned us a nice reputation as an innovative agency with expertise in mobile design. Yet all we really did was focus on the respondents’ reality and adapt.

Today in 2020, we are in a very similar situation. The wave of focus on online privacy and consumer protection has forced major tech companies behind the most common browsers to phase out or eliminate third-party cookie usage. As a result, about 21% of online survey takers are using devices and/or browsers (Safari and Firefox) that don’t accept cookies with that number expected to jump dramatically over the next 18 months (Chrome heading that way now too).

Why does this matter for researchers?  

Third-party cookies are the backbone of many deduplication methods in survey research.  In fact, it is highly likely that every survey you have is deduplicating via a browser cookie and some type of digital fingerprinting. The reality is that ~20% of the survey starts could be missing any deduplication block.  which certainly negatively impacts the data.  This is the kind of thing that keeps me obsessed for months.  

Our latest update to our CleanID fraud and duplicate prevention solution last month officially went cookie-less.  This change enables our clients to deduplicate with dramatically improved efficacy across all devices without using any cookies. In fact, in recent client tests, CleanID proved to be 50% more effective with significantly fewer false positives for deduplication. CleanID also proved extremely effective for mobile device deduplication, a known issue in our industry. Meanwhile, we can achieve all of this and also be GDPR Compliant.  

While 2020’s cookie and privacy reality are a bit more complex than the responsive design situation we faced in 2008, I’m proud to be driving a solution like OpinionRoute’s CleanID.  It’s the right time to adapt to today’s survey and respondent realities.

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