Apple’s ITP2 Safari anti-tracking feature has great implications for digital marketing

Natalie Wood, senior consultant at Teavaro, discusses one of the big trends within digital marketing right now: Apples Safari ITP2

Natalie Wood TeavaroSafari has been the black sheep of browsers for a few years now, with a different approach to cookies and the use of them. This expanded further through the rollout of ITP2 in September 2018. This is a clear warning to advertisers to get their houses in order, and use identity and tracking solutions that are viable for the new regulatory climate.

In the UK alone, brands without viable solutions are fraught, with 30 per cent of their total site traffic being Safari-based, and a particular problem with mobile browsers where the Safari share jumps to around 50 per cent. These numbers are continuing to grow in many markets, so the impact is not localised. It is also important to note that this is just one browser, and such was the feature’s popularity among consumers, many other browsers are looking to, or already have, adopted the ITP standards.

In essence, unsecured, client-side session tracking is dead; a fate brought about by the industry’s own hubris. After years of rampant client-side tracking of individuals as they move across the internet, the doors are slamming shut. This is currently the reality on Safari browsers, and recent updates have indicated that Firefox will follow, as Mozilla makes meaningful efforts to improve user security and privacy.

Traditional remarketing and attribution on these platforms are simply no longer possible. As their Q4 figures are revealing, marketers are now facing black holes in these areas. Many are frantically working with partners to provide cookie-less tracking – such as digital fingerprinting – that can be used to plug the gaps in conversion values to meet and measure KPIs.

What is digital fingerprinting? This is the process where a vendor will collect information available in the header to provide a ‘profile’ of a user from information that is available to them. Some utilise historical data to build a stronger fingerprint, others may not. To understand the limits of this method, one site can retrieve hundreds of thousands of visits under the same user agent (for example: “Mozilla/5.0 (Windows NT 6.1; Win64; x64) AppleWebKit/537.36 (KHTML, like Gecko) Chrome/71.0.3578.98 Safari/537.36”), making it a mammoth task to link visits to the individual.

Such Herculean tasks can be achieved with the right partners. And they are preferable to the alternative: waving goodbye to accurate targeting and tracking across over 30 per cent (and rising) of your audience.