Recently there has been a lot of buzz about privacy-related changes to the way marketers target, track and measure their digital marketing campaigns.
All of a sudden everyone is talking about redirects, cookies, user identification and privacy. The two most noticeable aspects are GDPR and ITP by Apple. GDPR regulates the type of data companies can store and for how long. It’s mostly aiming at making sure people cannot be identified in person by the stored data. While GDPR uses regulation targeted at companies, Apple has voluntarily chosen to use its technology to improve the privacy protection of all Safari users. ITP by Apple doesn’t only focus on pieces of data that may be used to identify people specifically, instead, it is essentially eliminating the anonymous traces each and every one of us leaves online. They do this by changing a mechanism in cookies and redirects, which have been so far considered a solid foundation of the web. For us at Kenshoo, this means coming up with innovative solutions in an area that hasn’t changed in decades.
So, what exactly is ITP?
With Safari 11 and IOS11, Apple included a new feature called Intelligent Tracking Prevention (ITP). ITP’s goal is to protect users’ online privacy by changing the way Safari handles cookies. It may remove cookies when it detects that they are stored by trackers.
How exactly does ITP detect a cookie is being used for tracking? Browsers store cookies by the domain that saved them. Cookies saved by domain a.com are only accessible when the browser is showing content from a.com. Now, Safari will look at the domains storing cookies, and count three things for each domain:
- The recency of user interaction with the domain
- The number of times a user navigated to the domain and then redirected to another domain right away
- The number of times content from the domain was requested by other domains
When Apple sees that #1 is low, but #2 or #3 is high, that domain is deemed a tracker and its cookies will get deleted after 24 hours.
The rationale is that such third-party cookies are not sufficiently controlled and can be used by other parties that the end user is not aware of to collect personal data.
How can we work with ITP?
While ITP takes a major step towards reducing individual trails online, it focuses on doing this in a very specific way. It focuses on third-party cookies, the most common and unregulated form of tracking. Cookies and redirects are as old as the World Wide Web and have been used for targeting, measuring and analyzing user activities for decades. Some of those measurements are completely legit and are approved by ITP, as long as the site saving those is indeed the site that the client is interacting with. But, the internet has greatly evolved over the decades, and today, much more data can be generated, transferred, consumed and analyzed than ever before.
Cookies are an old habit, but they have their own limitations, for example, the proliferation of mobile devices raised the issue in cross-device measurement. In today’s world marketers don’t have to rely on cookies, as there are many new identifiers we can use to accurately calculate which ads lead to a conversion.
With advertisers own membership IDs, publisher click identifiers, browser fingerprinting and mobile device marketing IDs, marketers today can use a variety of combinations to create a complete picture of a users activity. Building such tracking systems requires measurement solutions to develop advanced data platforms that can cope with such data scale and level of complexity. However, once you rely on such systems for your measurement, you get a much more comprehensive view of the performance of your ads than seen through third-party cookies.
How will ITP affect the Advertising Industry?
Essentially, the next generation of tracking and measurement will become more data savvy, and focus on defining explicit ways for marketers to share data from their marketing activity for the purpose of analyzing traffic, and have good control and visibility into what is shared.
Instead of relying on a single domain’s cookie and a single proprietary set of identifiers we will see solutions moving to accept multiple identifiers from the marketer’s site, all of which would be ITP approved.
Eventually, with the push from ITP, a revamped generation of tracking solutions capable of integrating new sets of identifiers are laying the groundwork for even more exciting capabilities.
Essentially, tracking helps businesses understand the value of their data – the more data the more value. Tracking users online activities while maintaining the most advanced privacy standards is the best of both worlds – benefiting both consumers and businesses.
What is Kenshoo’s Solution?
As we see it, there are two trends that are happening. The first is the technology trend that we’ve discussed so far. The world is starting to move away from cookies as the main tracking solution. While we don’t believe cookies are going away altogether, the use of them is becoming more specific and limited.
The second trend is an increase in the protection of user privacy. Both GDPR and Apple’s ITP limit third parties significantly, while still allowing any kind of tracking that is performed by the platforms visited by the user. Collecting data on users is OK if they are “your users”, but a third party doing so on behalf of someone is going to see some challenges moving forward. In this aspect, Kenshoo’s strategic choice to invest in the world of Native Publishers pays off, as unlike exchanges and aggregators of traffic, they own the content in which ads are displayed.
In addition to working with Native Publishers, Kenshoo has created an ITP compliant solution that is currently in Beta. Kenshoo Director of R&D Erez Lotan explains,
“We have a new Landing Page pixel, for a selection of clients that launched in January of 2018. We have changed the way we redirect users to the landing page by adding a new parameter that stores the tracking ID. When users click on an ad, we will now redirect them to the advertiser’s landing page with a new parameter that stores the tracking ID. When the landing page loads, the Landing Page pixel stores the tracking ID in the browser under the client’s domain, therefore avoiding deletion after a period of 24 hours.”
As the world of digital marketing and consumer privacy continue to evolve, Kenshoo engineers will continue to innovate. If you have questions about ITP compliant tracking and are interested in being a part of our Beta program, please contact your Kenshoo Representative.