Phoenix

Phoenix reduce the impact of Safari ITP on your cookies.

Overview

The Intelligent Tracking Protection (ITP) feature of Safari browsers reduces the duration of most 1st party cookies to one day. ITP was initially implemented to reduce the effectiveness of cross domain visitor tracking—unfortunately it also has a strong impact on the user experience of website users. 1st party cookies are often used to store user settings of important features of a website.

e.g. cookie banner use 1st party cookies to store consent settings of a website visitor. On Safari these cookies might only last for one day. Thus cookie banner show up on almost any consecutive website visit, asking the visitor for his privacy settings again and again.

Phoenix enables you to persist 1st party cookies for longer durations to reduce the impact of ITP on your website and business.

Which cookies can be persisted with Phoenix?

To understand how Phoenix works it is important to understand following cookie concepts.

1st party vs. 3rd party cookies
Secure Http cookies
1st party vs. 3rd party cookies

A cookie belongs to a domain (e.g. site.com). A cookies set on site-a.com belongs to site-a.com, a cookie set on site-b.com belongs to site-b.com.

A cookie is a 1st party cookie or a 3rd party cookie depending on the relation of the website domain and the cookie domain.

In case a visitor goes to site-a.com the browser loads all cookies set on site-a.com as 1st party cookies. When site-a.com implements a service from site-b.com (e.g. web analytics or a cookie banner) the browser might load cookies from site-b.com as 3rd party cookies.

You can inspect the domain of a cookie in the Developer Tools of most browsers. In Chrome browser you can open the Developer Tools by navigation to View > Developer > Developer Tools. You will find a list of all cookies in the Developer Tool under Application > Cookies > Your Domain.

Example of a 1st party cookie. The visitor is on www.commandersact.com which matches the cookie domain of .commandersact.com.

A cookie is a 1st party cookie in case the field "Domain" matches the domain of the current website (e.g. a cookie with a domain .site.com is a 1st party cookie on a website with the domain www.site.com).

3rd party cookies are blocked by many browsers (e.g. Safari and Firefox) and will most likely be blocked by all major browsers in 2022. Phoenix works with 1st party cookies.

Secure Http cookies

Most 1st party cookies can be managed in two ways:

  • Client-side with JavaScript

  • Server-side with HTTP header

By assigning a Secure flag it is possible to restrict a cookie to HTTPS content. This allows developers to make cookies more secure and to protect them from certain malicious attacks.

You can investigate the Secure flag of a cookie in most browser Developer Tools. In Chrome browser you can open the Developer Tools by navigating to View > Developer > Developer Tools. You will find all cookies in the Developer Tool under Application > Cookies > Your Domain.

Example of a cookie without a HttpOnly and Secure flag. The duration of this cookie would be shortened by Safari's ITP.

A cookie is a Secure cookie in case it has a checkmark in the Secure column.

The duration of Http cookies with a Secure flag are not impacted by ITP. Phoenix can persist 1st party cookies as Secure Http cookies.

Phoenix allows to persist 1st party cookies without a Secure and HttpOnly flag.

How does Phoenix persist cookies?

After Phoenix is set up on a website domain it will backup selected 1st party cookies that are affected by ITP by storing them in Secure Http cookies that are not affected by ITP.

Phoenix will check if a 1st party cookie was deleted and recreate it from its backup on further website visits. Therefore the 1st party cookie is not anymore affected by ITP.

Setup

Phoenix setup consists of following steps. A Commanders Act consultant will support you during setup.

Example configuration of a Phoenix subdomain and cookie size limit.

Configure Phoenix Subdomain

Phoenix has to run on your website domain to be able to create Secure Http cookies. Therefore you will need to assign a subdomain of your domain (e.g. phoenix.mydomain.com) to Phoenix.

In case you want to activate Phoenix for multiple domains (e.g. two domains, one .com for an English site and .fr for a French site.) you need to create one subdomain per domain.

Your administrator can configure your Phoenix subdomains in your Commanders Act interface under Admin > Domain Management.

Browsers, like Safari, can usually store a maximum of 8 kB of cookie data per domain. Web servers also have a cookie data limit, often matching the 8 kB of browsers.

Your administrator can configure how much cookie space he wants to make available for Phoenix in your Commanders Act interface under Admin > Domain Management. It is recommended to not exceed 2 kB, and we suggest a limit below 0.5 kB during initial setup.

Exceeding cookie storage limit can make your website inaccessible. Please consult with your technical teams during setup to define an optimal storage quota for Phoenix.

Setup CNAME Domain Record

You will then need to connect your Phoenix subdomains with the Phoenix service. Your domain administrator needs to therefore configure CNAME entries that point your Phoenix subdomains (e.g. phoenix.mydomain.com) to the Phoenix service domain (e.g. sitexxx.commander5.com).

Your administrator can find the Phoenix service domain in your Commanders Act interface under Admin > Domain Management.

You have to re-generate your TagCommander containers after enabling Phoenix.

Managing Cookies with Phoenix

Commanders Act cookies are automatically managed by Phoenix. Cookies of other vendors have to be configured manually.

TagCommander

In TagCommander cookies are usually set by your vendor tags. You can enable Phoenix for selected tags in the "Deployment" step of your TagCommander container by enabling the ITP BYPASS option. This will automatically persist all cookies of this tag with Phoenix. A progress bar will show the remaining cookie space made available by your administrator.

Example how cookies a of Tag are persisted with Phoenix

Please contact the Commanders Act support or your Commanders Act consultant in case the ITP BYPASS option is not available for a tag or cookie you would like to persist.

Other Systems

Please contact your Commanders Act consultant in case you would like to persist cookies outside of TagCommander or in case you would like to install Phoenix without TagCommander.