Apple Making Big Changes To Advertiser Tracking

Apple (NASDAQ:AAPL) is putting new restrictions on ad-tracking in its new Safari browser, and advertisers are not happy about it. Apple’s new “Intelligent Tracking Prevention” feature makes it harder for advertisers to follow users as they surf the Internet. The move could dramatically reduce the amount of ads reflecting sites Internet surfers have visited previously.

Apple unveiled the new tracking restrictions in June. In a statement, the company says: “Apple believes that people have a right to privacy. Safari was the first browser to block third-party cookies by default and Intelligent Tracking Prevention is a more advanced method for protecting user privacy.”

With the new feature, if the user has not interacted with a website in the last 30 days, that website’s data and cookies are immediately purged and will continue to be purged if new data is added. If a Web surfer has interacted with a website in the last 24 hours, its cookies will also be available when that website is a third-party. After that, they’ll exist in a partitioned state for 30 days before getting purged.

Apple believes that the move is a good action to take for its users. John Wilander, an Apple WebKit engineer, said that Intelligent Tracking Prevention “reduces cross-site tracking by further limiting cookies and other website data.” Wilander says that because of these changes, “users only have long-term persistent cookies and website data from the sites they actually interact with and tracking data is removed proactively as they browse the Web.”

The changes are coming to Apple’s macOS High Sierra and iOS 11 Safari browsers, the latest operating systems for the Mac and iPhone. The new iOS 11 launches September 19 and macOS High Sierra launches on September 25.

Six major advertising groups have just published an open letter saying they are “deeply concerned” about the new restrictions. The American Association of Advertising Agencies, the American Advertising Federation, the Association of National Advertisers, the Data & Marketing Association, the Interactive Advertising Bureau, and the Network Advertising Initiative all signed on to the letter.

In the letter, they wrote, “Apple’s unilateral and heavy-handed approach is bad for consumer choice and bad for the ad-supported online content and services consumers love. Blocking cookies in this manner will drive a wedge between brands and their customers, and it will make advertising more generic and less timely and useful.”

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