January 19, 2018

Safari Anti-Tracking Update

What’s all this about safari making updates that advertisers don’t like?!

You may have heard recently Apple are rolling out Intelligent Tracking Prevention in their web browser Safari. In doing this Apple is trying to protect user privacy from intrusive websites and advertisers while still utilising the convenience of cookies.

The update has caused a lot of backlash from advertisers who are concerned about A) having less tracking ability of Safari users and B) Facebook and Google becoming more powerful and the smaller ad companies losing their spot in the digital ad world.

So what does this new update really mean?

A cookie = a small data file placed on your computer from a website you have visited.

Its purpose = so that the website can recognise your browser or specific information about your browser often helping to improve your experience when returning to a site.

A first party cookie = belongs to the site that you have visited. E.g. you visit then the cookie owner will state

A third party cookie = owned by a third party company so if you visit the cookie owner will state

Third party cookies allow advertisers to discover what type of items you’re shopping for by tracking you from site to site e.g. you look at a bike on then you see adverts for the bike you looked at when you’re on Facebook.

So why not block third party cookies all together?
Third party cookies are useful in some situations. One of them being what apple calls “‘Sign in with my X account on Y’ login scenarios” which you may have encountered when you’ve had the option to sign in using your Facebook or google account on sites that aren’t Facebook or Google.

Safari’s new Intelligent Tracking Prevention works by allowing third party cookies for 24hrs after the site was visited. After this time, users will be able to remain logged in on websites but cross-site tracking by the cookie will be restricted. After 30 days of not visiting that site again, the cookie will be trashed from your computer.

Img source: WebKit

Advertisers: should you be worried?
Maybe a little. If you rely on retargeting users who have visited your site, you may not be able to reach as many visitors. You may see changes in your website analytics as when your cookie is trashed from a user’s computer and they visit your site again they will be identified as a unique/new visitor. The devices your audience use may come in to play as safari holds about an 80% share of tablet browser usage while only about 13% of desktop.

Safari Users: should you be pleased?
Yes, it can be annoying getting bombarded with adverts for one item you looked at online last month that you may not have even been particularly interested it.