Product Notice: Google Chrome 85 and Tracking Changes
With the arrival of the Chrome 85 Release, Google has made some privacy changes to how their Chrome browser handles “referrers”. A “referrer” provides information to tools like Eloqua about the visitor’s browsing history and their current location on a website. With the introduction of these changes, Google is changing their default behaviour to be more restrictive with what information is shared.
As a result of these changes, Eloqua tracking will only capture the domain name and not the full path of the URL that was visited (unless your web team already has an explicit referrer policy in place on your website that allows the full URL to be shared) for any visitors who access your website via Chrome 85.
For example, a visit to http://domain.com/pages/page1.html will now appear in Eloqua as a visit to http://domain.com. It is important to note that this is a change in Chrome’s standard browser behavior that applies to all traffic on your website and it is not something that targets Eloqua specifically.
It is also important to note that your Eloqua hosted landing page tracking is not impacted in any way by these changes, and that it only impacts website tracking.
How does the Chrome 85 update affect Eloqua?
Without additional changes to the web server or Eloqua tracking scripts, the most notable change in this update is the loss of granular information for visitor tracking. As of the Chrome 85 update, a visit to http://domain.com/pages/page1.html may now appear in Eloqua as a visit to http://domain.com. The full path, and any additional information appended to it such as query string values, will not be available for use in segmentation, scoring, or reporting.
The Chrome 85 changes only impact website tracking and your Eloqua hosted landing page tracking is not impacted by this new policy. Also, as this is not a cookie related issue, it will impact all Eloqua tracked pages on your website regardless of whether you are using 1st or 3rd party cookies for tracking.
For more information on the Google’s change, and the technical details of it, please refer to Google’s Referrer Privacy Model Statement.
There are two options available to ensure you continue to receive the full set of visitor tracking information in Eloqua. You may choose to implement either one or both.
Option 1: Update the web server referrer-policy
Have your website team implement the header “Referrer-Policy” with a value of “no-referrer-when-downgrade” on your web server for pages being tracked by Eloqua. When there is no current “Referrer-Policy” on your website, Chrome uses its default, which has now become more restrictive. The policy “no-referrer-when-downgrade” was the former Chrome default and allows for the full sharing of referrer information to Eloqua and other tools that may be requesting it.
Option 2: Update the tracking script on all externally hosted pages (landing pages hosted by Eloqua do not need to be updated)
Update your Eloqua website tracking script to explicitly include the full URL of the page being tracked. This is a relatively small change if you are managing the Eloqua script in a single location and deploying it to all of your pages.
To change the Eloqua tracking script to explicitly send the current location of the visitor, find the following line in the script:
and replace it with:
Does the Google Chrome 85 update impact my cookies? There is no specific impact to cookies. All externally tracked pages can be affected regardless of what type of cookie is used.
Will this change impact Eloqua hosted landing page tracking? Tracking of landing pages hosted by Eloqua will not be affected by this update. No customer action needed.
Can Eloqua stop this change from happening? Unfortunately, there is not anything that Eloqua can do to revert this change or stop it from happening. As privacy standards shift, we are seeing significant changes in how web browsers are protecting visitor data. In this case, Google Chrome is implementing these changes for all users in order to prevent unintentional over sharing of data. Employing one of the options above will ensure you continue to capture your visitor data as before.
Does this impact other web browsers? Firefox, nor is Microsoft Edge is currently impacted. As browsers are updated to adhere to more strict privacy guidelines, this may change in the future.
Can applying this change to the visitor tracking script be automated? If you are deploying the Eloqua tracking script in a centralized fashion, for example via a tag manager, you should be able to make a single change and deploy everywhere.
Using Eloqua’s custom tracking option, it is possible to send the full address directly to Eloqua. See documentation here: https://docs.oracle.com/en/cloud/saas/marketing/eloqua-user/Help/EloquaAsynchronousTrackingScripts/Tasks/TrackingCustomURLs.htm. The referrer in the tracking script can be set to window.location.href to automatically collect the address.
Group Product Manager, CX - Marketing: Eloqua