Apple has made a major update to the Intelligent Tracking Prevention (ITP) feature of their Safari browser.
ITP 1.0 has been in effect since 2017, and this latest update, a default feature for all Safari users, has major implications for marketers and affiliate publishers.
Why do marketers track and drop cookies?
75% of the world's 500 most popular websites have cookies. So what is a cookie?
When you visit a website, they may "drop" a cookie, meaning their server can track your browsing activities. Some cookies are placed directly by the site you are visiting (1st party cookies) and some are placed by advertising networks and other external sources (3rd party cookies).
There is a huge variety in cookie types: chocolate chip, snickerdoodle...
Let's try that again.
There is a huge variety in cookie types: cookies that only last while you navigate the original site, cookies that clear after a browser session, persistent cookies that last until they expire or are manually cleared, and more.
Companies and marketers use these tools to understand customer behavior and to tailor ads, sales, and other customer interactions specifically for an identified audience.
What Is ITP 1.0?
Introduced by Apple in 2017, ITP 1.0 introduced a default setting for the Safari web browser that limited cookie tracking after 24 hours. This was a measure meant to protect the privacy of Safari users, limiting third-party advertisers' ability to track web activity across more than one site.
Users have the ability to disable the ITP protocol, but since it is a default setting, and most web users are not sitting at home and wondering, "How can I get more and higher quality ads," the odds are this was active for most Safari users.
What Is ITP 2.0?
The 24 hour window is gone. Third-party cookies can no longer be read at all.
There is an additional feature known as Tracker Collusion Protection that identifies redirects that are used only for tracking purposes. This is meant to enhance the Safari user experience and increase privacy controls. In fact, activity reporting is now only allowed at the domain level.
What's the Effect on My Business?
Luckily, the ITP 2.0 update will not have an impact on Facebook and Google Universal Analytics, as both of these use 1st party cookie tracking, which is ITP compliant. Note, that for Google this functionality applies only to Universal Analytics. Google Classic Analytics is not ITP compliant.
If you are currently using 3rd party tracking tags, these will need to be updated. Affiliate Marketing Advertisers can be expected to lose approximately 9% of affiliate sales as a result of this change. CJ Affiliate, Impact, Share A Sale, and Tradedoubler have released updates to resolve this issue, and all affiliate advertisers should contact their tracking provider in order to confirm the status of their campaigns,
Google Search Marketing Advertisers - you will need to update your tracking methods. Google Tag Manager users must enable the Conversion Linker option. If you do not use Tag Manager, then you need to double-check that the code installed on your site incorporates Global Sites Tags.
For Bing Ads, you will need to implement UET tracking codes.
While ITP 2.0 is specific to Apple's safari web browser, an announcement has already come from Mozilla that Firefox will see similar adjustments. In a web landscape that is increasingly privacy-focused, we can expect other browsers to adopt similar protocols.
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