“The truth is, we could make a ton of money if we monetized our customer—if our customer was our product,” Apple CEO Tim Cook.
It’s September and just like every September for the last decade or so, the stage is set for Apple to announce a number of new devices and (sometimes) exciting software updates.
In case you missed it, you can track your runs, check to see if your heart is failing (Americans only, sorry Canada), turn your expensive device into a rudimentary walkie-talkie, oh yeah, and now you can stop companies from tracking you on the internet…wait what?
Last year Apple announced that it was going to integrate something called Intelligent Tracking Prevention into its web browser, Safari. This was a significant move when you consider that Safari dominates mobile browser space and holds a healthy 20% of all browsing traffic. Needless to say, marketers took notice.
What is Intelligent Tracking Prevention (ITP?)
Intelligent Tracking Prevention limits the ability of websites (and ad exchanges) to track user activity across the web. Specifically, any scripts or image files that are loaded by the site for this purpose are identified and then sequestered off from the rest of the page. Any trackers associated with these actions are allowed to function for 24 hours and then they are rendered useless.
So, I can’t retarget beyond 24 hours?
Well theoretically yes, but not entirely. Remember, this all happened last year.
Different companies have responded differently
Google, now stores their Adwords cookie on the advertiser’s domain, rather than on their own Google Ads servers so that it appears as a first party cookie, rather than appearing as the offending third party kind. This subtle change has, in effect, allowed Google’s tacking capabilities to continue uninhibited.
Companies that rely on cookie-based tracking, such as Criteo and Google have taken steps to ensure that their tracking (and ability to retarget) is unaffected.
On the other hand, after a dramatic drop in share price late last year, French remarketing company Criteo made a pivot to focus more on email and in app messaging; inventory that is far less reliant on the tracking cookies that Apple is seeking to limit. Despite industry headwinds such as GDPR the move seems to have be working out well for the company and their clients who are willing to explore alternative inventory sources.
What does this mean for you?
Wait, so if most display and search campaigns were unaffected and your performance hasn’t dipped why should you care? This is all last year’s news, right? Not so fast.
Apple just released the latest round of software updates; iOS12 and Mojave. TL;DR, Apple wants you to spend less time on your phone, your Mac will have a cool brooding new Dark theme…and then there is the anti-tracking.
Safari now ships with ITP2.0. The 24-hour grace window for trackers is gone and the browser now includes features that prevent a technique known as “browser fingerprinting”. This effectively destroys third-party trackers.
Game over, no more retargeting?
The solutions are simple. Make sure your trackers are categorized as “First Party”.
Not possible? Still want to use third-party cookies?
Safari users will now see something like this:
Users may get annoyed at this prompt and just hit okay, allowing the tracker to function as it normally would.
Alternatively, if you require your visitors to login using Facebook or Google credentials, trackers will function the same as always, no popups required. Remember that whole People based marketing thing?
Campaigns that run through Facebook or Google will be unimpacted. Cookies get deleted after 24 hours…most users of Google and Facebook visit many, many times within that window.
If you’re an advertiser running third-party cookies, watch out for performance dips.