March 23, 2021
Apple’s App Tracking Transparency Updates & Impact
Update: See our most recent ITP blog post for the latest developments.
In late March 2019, Apple is planning to release its newest version of the Safari browser. That version will contain “Intelligent Tracking Prevention 2.1” (ITP 2.1).
What does that mean? Digiday has more details here, but in short, Apple is breaking standard web tracking for Safari users after 7 days. This affects the cookie tracking used by Google Analytics, Adobe, Facebook Ads, Google Ads, and basically any website.
You can expect a larger near-term impact if a significant percentage of your site visitors are using Safari browsers. For example, if 50% of your visitors use Safari and 50% of your conversions happen after 7 days, then you can expect to have 25% of your total site conversions tracked incorrectly. Here are a few places where impacts will show up:
Update: Calculate the impact of Apple’s ITP on your marketing data and goals in our new post.
Google and Facebook do collect too much data and haven’t done enough to disclose it and offer control to people. That said, millions of businesses are growing and contributing to the United States’ 2nd longest economic expansion on record by using the effective, targeted advertising that Google and Facebook provide. By breaking basic analytics and conversion tracking, Apple risks throwing the baby out with the bathwater. Of course, targeted advertising is not Apple’s baby; they sell phones, a business that is in the midst of a slowdown after over a decade of growth.
Looking at another business line, Apple takes a 30% cut from App Store purchases, which points to another incentive. Perhaps Apple is hoping that they can force more businesses to sell through the App Store if their competitors’ ad platforms are less effective.
Various technical work-arounds have been proposed. Each of these work-arounds has its own set of challenges, and they may end up being short-lived depending on how Apple reacts. In the near-term, I recommend putting these work-arounds in front of your developers so they can start thinking about what might make sense for your business.
Others have gone as far as suggesting that websites could block Safari users and instead recommend using Chrome.
With tens of millions of websites using Google Analytics, it is important to hear from Google. What do they recommend (both for Google Analytics and for Google Ads tracking)? Facebook, what say you?
We will keep you updated with information from Google, Facebook, and other sources as it becomes available.