Apple ITP Introduces Full Third-Party Cookie Blocking in Safari and iOS

Dan Koch

Apple blocking third-party cookies in Safari and iOS

The latest in Apple’s Intelligent Tracking Prevention (ITP) saga has just dropped. It may not seem like a huge update, but make no mistake — it is significant, and, to some, it will be a doozy.

In a new blog post, Apple outlines two changes to ITP that have even more implications for how advertisers track across the web:

  1. Full Third-Party Cookie Blocking
    Cookies for cross-site resources are now blocked by default across the board. This is a significant improvement for privacy since it removes any sense of exceptions or “a little bit of cross-site tracking is allowed.”
  2. Cookie 7-Day Cap on All Script-Writeable Storage
    … Now ITP has aligned the remaining script-writable storage forms with the existing client-side cookie restriction, deleting all of a website’s script-writable storage after seven days of Safari use without user interaction on the site. 

In a nutshell, this means:

  1. Third-party pixels are now officially, completely dead on iOS devices. They simply will not work in any circumstances, full stop.
  2. The local storage workaround for this is now capped to a 7 day window. (Meaning that if the user goes more than 7 days between when a click puts a user on the site, and them going back to the site, attribution gets snapped at that point.) It means that the max attribution window for mobile web offers is now 7 days.

Luckily, we have always had a workaround for this and future changes to cookie-based tracking: postback tracking. We explain the benefits of postback vs pixel tracking here.

Does this change soften our stance on the JS SDK (our cookieless tracking solution) as the preferred tracking method? Nope. It’s still way better than pixels (which just flatly won’t work here).  The ultimate recommendation is postbacks, but not everyone can support that.

Apple’s most recent Intelligent Tracking Prevention updates:

While complicated, postback tracking has always been the most reliable, future-proof way of tracking conversions across the internet and mobile apps. Which is why we’ve recommended postback tracking from the beginning.

We understand that not everyone has the technical resources or grit to implement server-side tracking methods, such as postback tracking. However — and I cannot stress this enough — the time for that reasoning or excuse is quickly changing. Soon, companies and individuals like you will have to make a decision: dedicate yourself to learning server-side tracking, hire somebody who knows how to master postback tracking, or get left behind.

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Dan Koch

Dan Koch is TUNE's Chief Technology Officer. Previously, he was TUNE's Director of Marketing Automation, and previous to that the Director of Engineering at Artisan. Artisan is the industry’s first mobile experience management (MEM) platform, allowing businesses to analyze, manage and enhance their existing mobile applications in real-time without writing code or resubmitting to app stores. Dan is a graduate of both the University of Pennsylvania and of the Villanova University School of Business, and built systems for Best Buy and the United States Air Force in a previous life. It's been a wild ride. Pester him on LinkedIn!