Apple’s ITP and Your First-party Customer Data

It’s been three years since Apple launched Safari’s Intelligent Tracking Prevention (ITP) feature, slamming down the lid on the digital cookie jar.

“In 2017, Apple released Intelligent Tracking Prevention (ITP) to protect the privacy of Safari users,” explains Michael Yeon in WNIP. “Initially, ITP targeted third-party cookies, blocking them completely.”

Consumers started seeing fewer ads, marketers called foul about losing a valuable data stream, and forward-thinking publishers turned in earnest to their first-party customer data.

Now, Apple is moving to restrict cookies for first-party cookies too, with their latest ITP update. For site visitors using Safari, first-party cookies will expire with seven days, unless they are accessed during that seven-day time frame. The tracking domain for those first-part cookies expires in just 24 hours, unless, again, they are accessed during that first 24-hour period.

“The 24-hour cookie expiration may play havoc with the attribution models of marketing teams,” Yeon notes. “If they are wanting to track ‘first touch’ attribution for a sales cycle longer than 24 hours, the original cookie info for ITP users will be expired.

“Whatever channel brought them back to the site,” Yeon continues, “such as an email newsletter, would receive the first-touch attribution that should have done to the original ad/channel. This can distort the conversion performance of channels and drive misinformed channel investment decisions.”

Fortunately, there are some tools available to work around this and still protect customer privacy wishes … things like click-through attribution, server-side storage of ad impressions, and other techniques. It’s worth looking into to be sure you aren’t inadvertently letting your valuable first-party customer data slip through your fingers.