Affiliates and Lead Gen

What Apple's Upcoming ITP Update Means for Affiliates

It all started in September 2017 when Apple released a browser update for Safari versions 11 and higher that included Intelligent Tracking Prevention (ITP). This release meant that Apple restricted the ability for third-party tracking providers to read cookies on a brand's site after the initial 24 hours. 

Fast forward to Q4 2018 and Apple are set to release Intelligent Tracking Prevention 2.0 to coincide with iOS 12 and macOS Mojave.

According to Statista, in the UK, the iPhone market share in Q1 2018 was 43%, and given that Apple sold more than 216 million iPhones worldwide, the impact to the market is significant. It is also worth highlighting that the update will come in to force on both mobile and desktop devices with iOS 12 and macOS Mojave.

So, how is this relevant to Affiliates?

The journey for an affiliate consumer can be fairly simple, but relies on third party cookies being dropped. When a consumer clicks from the publisher's website through to the brand's website, a cookie tends to get dropped by the tracking solution linking the two parties. With ITP, this means that any action outside of the 24-hour window cannot be seen.

Based on how the model is setup, we tend to see the vast majority of conversions occur within 24 hours. This means the impact within the industry has been fairly minimal so far. However, Apple has announced that an update will be released later this year which could have a bigger impact on the affiliate channel.

How does Apple ITP 2.0 differ from 1.0?

There are a few key differences in this iteration of ITP:

  • Protection against Tracker Collusion: with ITP 2.0, Apple introduces a feature which is said to ‘protect against tracker collusion’. Essentially, this means that the feature will detect when redirects are used for the purposes of tracking. This is the most common form of tracking in the affiliate channel: using a network’s tracking link and a redirect to a brand's website in order to drop cookies for the purpose of tracking. This method of tracking comes under threat from this new feature.

  • Removal of the 24-hour window: In ITP 1.0, third-party cookies could be read within the 24-hour window. This will be removed in the 2.0 version. 

Next steps: 

Investigate the potential impact on your programme. The parameters of the changes have been outlined and we now know that this will affect Safari on both mobile and desktop devices. Additionally, most networks offer a device report (or some form of information on the device the transaction was from).

All the networks are looking at this head on. In fact, the largest networks in the UK have processes in place to minimise the loss of any tracked sales.

If you have any questions around ITP 2.0, do get in touch with our dedicated Affiliates experts. 

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