Apple’s ITP 2.0: What It Is And How To Prepare

By Tinuiti Team

Ever since Apple announced an update to its Intelligent Tracking Protection (ITP) feature for the Safari browser this summer, we’ve all been on the edge of our seats waiting for the live version to launch.

Well, that time has come.

The new version of ITP 2.0, set to go live this week, will make it significantly more difficult to track users’ behaviors as they travel from site to site. Beta versions are available to Safari users now, and the live update is scheduled to take effect in the early fall.

With Safari users accounting for approximately 15% of the world and 30% of the US market share of internet browser users, the results of this accelerated focus on user privacy and anonymity will be significant.

How will ITP 2.0 impact you as digital marketers? Let’s review.

What is ITP 2.0?

Safari 12.0’s ITP 2.0 is an update to a privacy functionality developed by WebKit, an open source browser engine used by Safari and other Apple applications. ITP 2.0 was built off of the premise of Safari 11.0’s ITP 1.0 and ITP 1.1 which was released last year.

As you likely already know, Safari 11.0 blocked third-party cookies (cross-site tracking cookies used by advertisers, etc.) by default, only allowing for first-party cookies (cookies that remember logins, cart history, etc.) to be active. This made it difficult for digital advertisers to collect third-party data to use for delivering targeted ads without your knowledge.

ITP 2.0 goes a few steps further in protecting users’ privacy with this latest update. Key features of this latest version include:

Removes 24-Hour Cookie Access Window.
Some first-party cookies have third-party cookies’ trackability attributes. With ITP 1.1, first-party cookies that were determined to have third-party tracking capabilities were partitioned after 24 hours, meaning digital advertisers had a 24-hour window to use this tracking data for targeting ads before it was lost. In most cases, ITP 2.0 eliminates this 24-hour window.

With ITP 2.0 in place, websites now have to request tracking privileges, and users must specifically accept. Furthermore, opted-in tracking cookies will be deleted permanently after 30 days of inactivity on a site.

Stricter Controls Around Redirects.
ITP 2.0 can detect first-party bounce tracker domains that are solely used to track, identify, and share user data via navigational redirects. Any third-party domain requests (including analytics and remarketing tags) utilizing first-party bounce trackers will be penalized by ITP 2.0. Infracting sites will not be allowed to collect cookie data, and Safari will not record any user interactions as well.

Per-site Prompts for Plug-Ins.
Social networks embeds and other widgets on websites will no longer be easily trackable via plug-ins. Users will have to opt-in via an access prompt to allow for cross-site tracking. As a result, federated (universal, authenticated) logins from social media and other sites that utilize plug-ins will be restricted if not prevented.

Plug-Ins and widgets will now have to ask for permission to see the users’ credentials on a per-site basis.

What Does This Mean for Digital Advertisers?

Safari 12.0’s ITP 2.0 impacts mobile, tablet, and desktop applications, affecting a good portion of your organization’s online activities. Without making the necessary adjustments to your digital strategy, ITP 2.0 will remove your ability to follow conversions from Safari back to your sources.

This stricter approach to cookies administration, redirects, and the passing of HTTP referrer information means digital marketers who rely on third-party cookies for data will need to look for an alternative tracking method.

What Can Digital Advertisers Do?

To avoid any issues with tracking, you’ll want to make sure that you (or any platform that you are utilizing online) are employing best practices for first-party cookie cross-site tracking. Google recommends three workarounds for adapting your tracking methods to ITP 2.0. It is important to note you must be using auto-tagging in order for these solutions to work.

Google Tag Manager Conversion Linker. If you are using GTM, deploying Conversion Linker tags on all landing pages will store click data in first-party cookies.

Linking Google Ads with Google Analytics. If you are using Google Analytics and your Google Ads are linked to track your conversions then likely you will need to do nothing as Analytics already uses first-party cookies.

Hard-Coding or Non-GTM Applications. If you are hard coding your site, you’ll need to use the global tracking tag (gtag.js) in the head section on all the pages of your site. If you are using a non-GTM application, you will need to replace your current Google Ads remarketing tag with the (gtag.js) tag.

The Bottom Line

Your ability to track your activities and conversions online is critical to measuring the efficiency and effectiveness of your digital campaigns. Therefore, it’s crucial that you stay ahead of regulation and software updates that could impact the way that you collect data. ITP 2.0 isn’t the first change we’ve seen to do so lately (think GDPR), and it won’t be the last.

If you have any questions or if you have any issues with getting tracking set up or preparing for ITP 2.0, please reach out to us today.

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