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How ITP May Impact Your Analytics (Plus a Solution for Measurement)

ITP analytics measurement

Released as an Apple Safari WebKit feature in 2017 (and updated to version 2.2 in April 2019), Intelligent Tracking Prevention (ITP) reduces cross-site tracking by limiting cookies and other website data. While it currently only affects Safari, Mozilla Firefox also maintains a similar Enhanced Tracking Protection (ETP) which can impact the Mozilla browser; news also recently broke that Microsoft Edge is testing something similar.

As it influences the ways in which users are tracked, ITP creates a number of major implications for new and returning user metrics. For example, remarketing from Google Analytics 360 is much more difficult due to ITP, as cookies disappear after a much shorter time.

In order to understand the scope of ITP, it is important to understand what it is doing. Essentially, ITP greatly reduces the lifetime of cookies, which then decreases the amount of data that can be associated with individual users on Safari browsers. Cookies are key for attribution-based and user-level analysis. Over time, with browsers measuring data differently than others, this change may result in skewed, inconsistent measurement as well as misleading insights and analysis.

While ITP increases consumer privacy and the safety of their data—and blocks dangerous tracking from nefarious ad networks—it makes it much more difficult for marketers to accurately track users. As a result, data analysis and campaign attribution become much more inconsistent. Furthermore, it creates an environment which forces companies to be at the mercy of Apple and Firefox in regards to the data they may collect from browsers.

Solutions to Measurement In an ITP World

Due to these wide-sweeping changes, a number of solutions have been introduced by industry leaders, with most advocating for an update to ITP by Apple to block any workarounds. However, a long-term solution has recently been revealed, and experts believe that it will be more stable. Essentially, this solution will set the required cookies for analytics via the website’s own servers rather than relying completely on your measurement tool’s third-party javascript code (such as your Google Analytics javascript/tag or Adobe Analytics javascript/tag) to create the cookie, which will be set on the browser.

Important note: This solution is not necessarily the right answer for every organization. It’s imperative that you consult your company’s legal team before moving forward; you may in fact need to update your organization’s privacy policy.

In short, the simplified (with the help of InfoTrust) process to execute this solution is as follows:

  • Set the client ID (for Google Analytics), or whatever the browser cookie ID used for user tracking is in your tool of choice, via your server as a server-side http cookie. (Your IT/engineering and owners/webmaster can do this by following the preexisting guidelines.)
  • The InfoTrust team will then support this by configuring the majority of your tag management system (such as Google Tag Manager) and Google Cloud as well as providing detailed, clear instructions, which will lay out what is required for your engineering team.
  • Finally, our team will test, validate, and scale to all of your websites.

Ultimately, ITP functionality may be introduced to other browsers at any moment, so being proactive is essential. With the help of Safari volume, we have identified a number of negative consequences that have affected user metrics and attribution. The process outlined above (though very simplified here) is one of the strongest long-term solutions currently available.

ITP, ETP, and the Future of Cookies

Because it is server-based by website settings, it’s doubtful that all browsers will stop cookie capabilities altogether. By working together, our experienced team can ensure that your company can continue gathering and organizing data necessary to drive your business forward. Contact InfoTrust today to learn more.

Questions About ITP and Your Measurement Strategy?

Reach out to the experienced team at InfoTrust today.
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