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In online marketing, the tracking o monitoring refers to the registration and analysis of user behavior on the Internet. The movements of a visitor to a website can be tracked by means of HTTP headers, JavaScript or cookies. Web operators can find out, for example, where users access a website from, which pages they visit often, how long they stay on each page, by means of which links they leave the web portal, when they make purchases, when they subscribe to newsletters, etc.

You can view the analytical data recorded with the tracking tools shortly after recording or even live.

Tracking options

To get the most out of a landing page, you can track user behavior on that page. This behavior analysis can be carried out with the help of different tools such as mouse tracking or eye tracking.

An analysis of specific marketing campaigns can also be supported by event tracking.

Web operators who want to have multiple domains and review users between domains can use cross-domain tracking with Google Analytics.

Cross-device tracking is a way to review in more detail the customer journey and access from different devices. It can be used as part of Universal Analytics.

The fingerprint method can be used as an alternative if you want to track without cookies.


Tracking has become an important tool to achieve the success in online marketing. With the data obtained, operators can make their websites more customer-friendly, reduce visit cancellations, and sell their products or services to target groups. The result is that it is now very common for users who have recently inquired about a product to find more and more websites about similar products on their search results pages.

From a data protection point of view, tracking is a controversial method (see "Legal controversy" below).

Tracking tools

Along with Google Analytics, there are many other providers of free tracking tools, as well as professional paid programs. But world-renowned data management expert Google has established itself with its tools as the most widely used tracking service.

Google Analytics and many other tools use "first party" cookies for tracking, with which information can only be read between the web portal operator and each user. According to Google, the dreaded "third party" cookies, which allow a third party to control the behavior of users' network with the unethical intention of spreading spam, are not used.

Google also offers Google Tag Manager for tag management.

Legal controversy

Since user behavior can be recorded in detail with tracking tools, special data protection requirements must be met to prevent abuse. According to Google's own statements, the information detected by Google Analytics is anonymous (that is, it is not related to personal data) and is only used to identify trends of the users.

However, Google Analytics also stores the IP addresses of users. And after a long time of controversy over the storage of IP addresses in recent years, privacy advocates continue to claim that IP addresses are personal data, which may not be stored and distributed. Therefore, Google has used a browser add-on since 2011 that allows users themselves to avoid tracking their data in the Google Analytics search engine. Since then, Google Analytics users must post a [privacy statement] appropriate.

Even when this is sufficient, it remains controversial. Without the consent of the user, tracking can be considered a violation of applicable law. Header commands like [don't track]. This supposes a big challenge for publishers and marketers. The explicit consent of the user according to the legislation is expensive and complicated to implement, while vendors with secure tracking software are difficult to find.

However, through encrypted search, user data can be encrypted, so it cannot be tracked.

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