R&R Partners DIGITAL DIGEST September 22, 2017

Apple vs. Cookies: What Does This Mean for All Parties Involved

As many have heard the news, Apple’s browser, Safari, will start blocking advertisers from placing cookies on devices, greatly limiting specific marketing tactics that rely on these trackers to do behavior targeting and retargeting. Not surprisingly, advertisers are refuting and an open letter was written by six major trade associations stating that this changes will

“sabotage the economic model for the internet.”

Apple is certainly taking a stance on customers’ privacy being its No. 1 concern, which is coming off the coattails of the European Union cracking down on data privacy last year. “Ad-tracking technology has become so pervasive that it is possible for ad-tracking companies to re-create the majority of a person’s web browsing history. This information is collected without permission and is used for ad retargeting, which is how ads follow people around the internet,” an Apple representative said. “Apple believes that people have a right to privacy.” The company has no plans to drop ITP from Safari, and in a statement on Friday, reiterated its stance that users feel trust is broken when their web activity is tracked online and sold for purposes they didn’t agree to.

Based on Apple’s statements, this could be an awareness tactic to make data tracking common knowledge, pushing the industry to follow suit as the U.S. has yet to make a move like the E.U. Or, maybe it’s a PR play knowing that customers will value this decision and possibly switch browsers from Chrome or Firefox to Safari (safe to say no one is on Internet Explorer anymore). We know Apple’s ad revenue is minimal, as it closed iAd App Network last summer; however, this will affect publishers’ revenue as many websites are ad-supported apps, which are primarily targeted through third-party cookies, and Safari’s share of the U.S. mobile browser market is 52 percent, followed by Google’s Chrome at 39 percent, according to the latest data from StatCounter. If advertisers decide to spend less on these ad placements due to ineffectiveness, publishers will lose ad revenue and, ultimately, website traffic since they won’t have the money to continue supporting new content.

What does this mean for the consumer? Yes, more privacy − something that is a growing concern by the day. We won’t be chased across the internet by a recent product we viewed, but our overall online ad experience will be reduced as ads will no longer be as relevant to our interests as they once were. Because of these reduced targeting capabilities, advertisers may have to block the Safari browser from their inventory source.

The glory of digital is more precise targeting so publishers will need to find another way to either supply advertisers with first-party data (which means consumers will be asked to create yet another account in order to access information), or monetize elsewhere. If publishers are finding other ways to monetize (such as publishing and monetizing their content on Facebook and other social channels), then people will be spending less time on Safari in the future. This is all great news for Facebook and other social channels, since they’re not dependent on cookies; more money coming their way!