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Safari 11 Intelligent Tracking Prevention: What You Need to Know

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Apple recently rolled out iOS 11 and macOS High Sierra. Both include Safari’s new privacy feature called Intelligent Tracking Prevention.

The system places new constraints on how cookies are used to personalize ads. While Safari currently blocks third-party cookies, ITP will delete first-party cookies as well if the user did not interact with the site in the past 30 days.

iOS 11 only impacts users using Safari. According to StatCounter Research, Safari is used by 14.9% of all internet users.

Impact on Safari Browsers:

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1. Safari browsers will begin deleting first-party cookies after 30 days if users did not visit the same site (to refresh the cookie) and already blocks third-party cookies entirely from loading within the browser.

2. Standard tracking for collected hits such as page views, events, transactions etc. should not be impacted according to the documentation provided online and via Apple. AKA majority of the data collection should not be affected, but this will need to be confirmed as it is rolled out further.

Analytics Impact:

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1. User metrics – for web tracking, GA uses first-party cookies to identify users anonymously (new vs. returning). If a user does not visit the site again within 30 days, they will be classified as a New User in any +30 day future sessions.
2. This behavior affects mobile web and desktop web browsing for Safari/Apple based devices.
3. There is no impact on mobile app tracking.

Impact on Remarketing and Digital Advertising

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The major impact may be on remarketing and digital advertising that leverages 3rd party cookies, though this has already been the case with Safari browser according to the online documentation below. It is highly recommended that you consult your advertising agency to determine if and how your advertising will be affected.

Impact on Legacy Floodlights:

With the ITP update, Legacy DoubleClick floodlight tags are no longer able to track view nor click conversions in Safari 11.

Historically, DoubleClick Floodlights recognized users based on their cookie ID. A user receives a cookie with an ID when a user is served an ad impression from DoubleClick. The cookie is updated to notate the click if the user clicks the ad. When the user visits the conversion landing page, the Floodlight tag looks for the DoubleClick impression or click cookie and matches a conversion based on the cookie ID. Because Safari blocks 3rd party cookies by default, view through conversions is not tracked by legacy floodlights in the Safari browser.

Through a loophole in the process, click through conversions were historically tracked by legacy DoubleClick floodlight tags. Because an ad click is redirected briefly through the doubleclick.net domain, click cookie becomes a 1st party cookie. In the past, this allowed DoubleClick to track click conversions in Safari. This is no longer the case because the ITP update now classifies 1st party cookies as meaningful and not meaningful. Since the redirect to the doubleclick.net domain is so brief, it is classified as not meaningful, and thus is not eligible for use in 3rd party context even for the 24-hour window.

DoubleClick’s GST Work Around for ITP:

In order to track Safari click conversions, updates are required for: the Global Site Tag (GST), a DoubleClick Event Tag, and a Google Click ID. If implemented on all advertiser web pages, The Global Site Tag allows DoubleClick to set a 1st party cookie on the advertiser’s domain. This 1st party cookie is held to the Safari 30 day lifespan. Similar to a legacy Floodlight tag, The Event tag will identify the DoubleClick cookie to determine whether the conversion is attributed. The Google Click ID, which is appended to the redirect when an ad is clicked, allows DoubleClick to identify which Placement/Creative the conversion should be attributed to.

Global Site Tag and Event Tags are available today, however, the Google Click ID is currently only applied to DoubleClick Search campaigns, and not display campaigns trafficked in DCM. The Google Click ID is expected to be integrated into DCM in January of 2018.

It is important to note that GST has no impact on DoubleClick’s ability to track view through conversions in Safari.

For more information and background on Apple’s decision to update Safari, please see articles here and here.


Have questions about how Intelligent Tracking Prevention will impact your websites and user interactions? Contact your InfoTruct Consultant today!

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