Crumbling the Cookie

Apple’s latest iOS system and updates, iOS 14, went live on September 16th. The newest iOS seems to be focused on consumer privacy, with many of the updates preventing or telling the consumer when their data is being collected. The new updates range from giving users more control over what data apps access, an orange light showing when your phone’s camera or microphone is activated, transparency in what apps are collecting locational data and more. Now it has been revealed that Apple has implemented a lot of similar new security and consent controls for Safari and other internet browsers running on your Mac, iPhone, and iPad.

Apple’s Intelligent Tracking Prevention (ITP) feature was introduced in 2017 for Safari and works to limit companies’ abilities to track people across the internet. Now, the latest iOS update ensures that ITP is automatically turned on when browsing, as opposed to having to manually turn it on, which had previously been the case. This latest upgrade also impacts the world’s most commonly-used web browser, Google Chrome. Apple is still working through some kinks that have caused third-party cookies to work in some instances when the function is turned on, but all browsers on iOS, iPad OS, and Mac OS will have ITP turned on by the end of the year.

Apple and, more specifically, Safari are not the first browser to start dissipating the importance of third-party cookies. Third-party cookies have long been considered the bedrock and foundation for all targeted advertising, but back in January, Google Chrome announced it would fully phase out third-party browser tracking cookies within two years. According to NetMarketshare, up to 55% of Mac OS users use Google Chrome as their web browser. 

How are Marketers and Publishers Responding?

Digiday wrote an excellent article on how a company like Vice Media Group is quickly transitioning sooner rather than later to prioritizing first party data through new software. Vice is employing a new tool that offers publishers more insights on their audiences without needing to use third-party cookies or requiring users to log in. That way, Vice can offer advertisers more precise targeting options.

Here’s what Ryan Simone, Vice Media Director of Global Audience Solutions told Digiday about their new data collection techniques and practices. “We are looking to eliminate bias in every instance. If a client says ‘this specific … group is what we are looking for,’ we can say on Vice — not through the proxies of third-party data or other interpretation that product A [should target] this content, this audience [and that’s] different from product B. It’s a much more sophisticated strategy and re-architecting the entire process.”

Every publisher and company should be taking the same approach as Vice, because every day more and more consumers are becoming educated about the world of data privacy and how they can protect themselves. Although Vice does not explicitly tell their users what the benefits are for signing up or consenting, they are still attempting to build trust with their consumers. As a publisher, it is important to communicate to your users and provide transparency about how consumer data is being collected and used because the third-party cookie is clearly crumbling, and if you do not prepare for the future, your company’s ad revenue will plummet.