What You Need to Know About Apple’s ITP Update and How it May Impact Your Business

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If you are a privacy expert or an Apple fan, you may already be aware of Safari’s ITP 2.0 update. This is an enhancement to the company’s Intelligent Tracking Prevention initiative, or ITP 1.0, released in September 2017 in response to increasing concerns over consumer privacy.

Enabled by default, Apple’s ITP is a setting called “Prevent Cross-Site Tracking” for its Safari browser. When ITP 1.0 launched, this setting hindered the ability for third-party cookies from a website to be tracked beyond the first 24 hours.

For example, when a shopper visits your site and clicks on your personalized tracking link to eBay, his or her browser receives an eBay cookie when landing on eBay’s site. Since our cookies are considered first-party, eBay’s affiliate tracking links were not impacted by ITP 1.0.

Earlier this month, Apple released ITP 2.0 along with its new iPhone operating software iOS 12 and macOS Mojave, across mobile, tablet and desktop devices. A positive change for consumers’ privacy, this update is evident in three key areas:

  1. Removal of the 24-hour window: With ITP 2.0, third-party cookies will not be read at all - even within the initial 24 hours.

  2. Protection against tracker collusion: This new feature will recognize and prevent tracking when users are redirected through a tracking domain before landing on the intended destination.

  3. Origin-Only Referrer: This update removes any information after the root domain and impacts the reported referring URL.

Our team has done extensive testing with ITP 2.0 and have yet to find a single instance in which our cookies were deleted within our attribution window. We are going to continue to test and monitor, but at this point we don't believe ITP 2.0 will impact our attribution.

It’s important to know that, because Safari represents ~17% of all web traffic, your business may be impacted outside of eBay. ITP 2.0 will disable tracking for any company that uses third-party cookies in Safari if the user is on Apple’s new operating system, MacOS Mojave.

This means that if your merchants do not shift their tracking methodology and stick with third-party cookies, you will likely not receive commission on transactions that you refer for them. In fact, Some estimate that these merchants will lose tracking on an average of 9% of sales generated by affiliate marketers, and this percentage is likely to increase with a high rate of mobile traffic.

If you have campaigns running with merchants that use third-party cookies, the Performance Marketing Association makes the following suggestion: “Be sure that the merchants you work with are aware of the changes and taking the necessary steps to ensure you will receive your commissions. Check your analytics to see how much of your traffic comes through Safari to understand just how much you will be impacted if the merchants do not make the changes.

For any questions or concerns you have around ITP 2.0 and other industry changes coming soon, email us anytime at AskEPN@ebay.com.

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