- Apple rolled out a feature called Intelligent Tracking Prevention with the release of the latest version of its Safari browser on Sept. 19 and ad tech firm Criteo SA said it in its Q3 earnings release this week that the feature negatively impacted its revenue by less than $1 million, according to a report in The Wall Street Journal.
- In future quarters, Criteo expects the feature to have a significant negative impact of 8% to 10%, or around $20 million, on Q4 revenues. In 2018, Criteo expects the negative impact to increase to 9%-13%, per the Journal
- Criteo reportedly said on the earnings call that it has been working on a solution to address Apple's tool by enabling it to collect anonymous e-commerce data across websites.
The real-world impact of Apple's Intelligent Tracking Prevention is that it makes it much more difficult for marketers to target and measure ads for people using the new version of the Safari browser. The Journal report focuses on Criteo because it is one of the first examples of the impact the feature is having on ad tech firms and raises the likelihood that the feature will negatively affect all ad tech firms and marketers using automation software for tracking and targeting those prospects and customers.
Apple's Intelligent Tracking Prevention is switched on by default, meaning most users would have to actively choose to turn off the anti-cookie tracking feature, and was added to the browser to protect users’ privacy through limiting third party access to cookies on their devices.
When Apple first announced the feature, six major advertising trade groups released an open letter condemning the update to the browser objecting how it indiscriminately blocks or removes first-party cookies without the browser users’ choice or control. The letter stated the feature has “haphazard rules over the use of first-party cookies” that could “block their functionality or purge them from users’ browsers without notice or choice.”
The concern at the time was Intelligent Tracking Prevention is bad for consumer choice and bad for ad-supported online content by making online advertising more generic, less timely and less useful for users. Safari users could always block first-party cookies, but the key change in the new feature is some more stringent privacy rules as well as the fact it is enabled by default on devices running the Safari 11 version.
The challenge for ad tech firms and automation software will be finding a workaround for using cookies for tracking those users. According to analytics website NetMarketShare, Safari has a 4.4% share of the global desktop browser market and 31.6% of the mobile browser market.