Are you getting reported traffic from ctoid.net or have you been curious why certain websites show the ctoid.net domain when using Safari? When this first happened to me, I was worried I had a virus on my iPhone or the site I was working on had been hacked. After a bit of digging, I found out what has been going on!
This started with a recent update to the Safari browser (version 11+), designed to protect user privacy from third-party and cross-site tracking advertising platforms.
What is Criteo?
This scenario is triggered by websites using Criteo, a digital marketing platform primarily used for remarketing efforts. For example, if you visit a website that has the Criteo tracking pixel installed, the advertiser can serve remarketing ads showing in the ad slots of common websites visited. Have you ever visited a site and then been chased around the web with ads for that product/service right after? Criteo is one of the popular platforms used to manage this. Google and Facebook both have similar tools for this type of digital marketing.
Based on the recent Safari update, Criteo had to adjust their default tracking experience. Previously, Criteo would provide the warning at the bottom of the page notifying the user of the tracking in place. Now the message has changed slightly, where the user first needs to take an action on the website to activate the tracking scripts (also giving the user the ability to opt-out).
Why is ctoid.net showing in my GA report?
The first action on the website is where this ctoid.net referral traffic is coming from. You can see the following steps when viewing the backcountry site on a mobile device.
Criteo intercepts the click so the user is redirected through the ctoid.net URL. In some cases, Google Analytics is losing the original traffic source. Instead, these are seen as a new session from ctoid.net. In other words, you’ll start to see this domain showing up in your site referrals report.
Don’t worry, your phone hasn’t been hacked (at least not by Criteo) and your analytics isn’t broken (at least in this particular way). Keep a close watch on your referral traffic and opt-out on if you don’t want remarketing advertising.
Let me know if you are seeing anything different out there in the wild with respect to the Safari update and Criteo tracking.