Fact Check Series: Apple’s Non-News Gives Agencies Something to Talk About

April 14, 2020

by Adam Solomon, Chief Growth Officer, Lotame

Last month, Apple made, what was on the surface, a bold announcement that it would fully block third-party cookies by default in Safari, and the industry almost yawned. Not just because everyone is preoccupied with other more pressing matters right now, but because Safari’s ITP anti-tracking feature effectively closed off third-party cookies back in 2017. The latest announcement simply confirmed Apple had finally flipped the switch.  

The declaration certainly didn’t have the same impact as Google’s decision to withdraw support for third-party cookies in Chrome, the last third-party cookie browser standing and one that claims over 60% of the market. But even here Google’s announcement wasn’t a complete shock as businesses had already begun to diversify their strategies towards probabilistic IDs and partnerships, in response to Safari and Firefox cookie restrictions. The Chrome deadline simply accelerated that process. 

In fact, the most interesting part of Apple’s Safari announcement was its decision to delete data stored in the browser by script-writable storage after seven days. This effectively cuts off a cookie workaround for some companies who assumed storage was infinite and were planning to store tracking identifiers as database entries using browser-based storage APIs.

But while the Safari announcement may not have rocked the industry, it has given agencies something to think about, and to discuss with their clients. There is a danger that announcements around browser restrictions on cookies could push clients even further towards walled gardens, with brands assuming they need to restrict their activities to environments where declared data is used for one-to-one advertising. Not that there’s anything wrong with walled gardens, but they generally present a very narrow view of the consumer. Most brands will want to reach consumers in different frames of mind or modality, which means also operating in the open web, on apps, and in channels outside of environments such as Facebook.  

Agencies need to educate their clients on the many possibilities that exist in a world without third-party cookies. There are, for instance, privacy compliant ID graph solutions that use both deterministic and probabilistic techniques to cluster IDs into individual-level connections across and between multiple platforms and devices. These types of solutions were already in development long before Apple or Google announced browser restrictions. They allow brands to activate their first-party data, enrich it with other forms of data, and reach audiences without the help of third-party cookies across an ever-growing diversity of environments. 

More to come on this topic from Lotame in the near future, but as always, I welcome your comments, suggestions, and feedback. Please reach out to me directly at adam.solomon@lotame.com.

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