Top 6 Apple updates that make trackers’ life harder. Or do they?

1. This website is (not) using cookies

Most modern browsers (except for Chrome) have already limited access to third-party cookies for known trackers — scripts that their developers marked as tracking user activity. However, the WebKit browser engine used by Safari and iOS SDK forbade using third-party cookies altogether.

2. Limited access to IDFA

For their mobile platforms, Google and Apple have already implemented special IDs — Google Advertising ID (GAID) and IDentifier For Advertisers (IDFA). They are used for the same purposes as cookies — to collect data on user interests for proper ad targeting and to track campaigns efficiency.

3. Postponed by SKAdNetwork

SKAdNetwork is a mobile algorithm to track in-app actions without breaking user privacy. Apple has been developing it for a few years, but it has only come to the forefront recently — with iOS 14.5.

  • Actions are sent over to trackers with a random lag (2+ days) so that the advertiser cannot match the event on their servers with the conversion to mark specific users. Neither do advertisers know which publisher delivered the action — unless the winning ad network discloses the data. Apple promises to fix this in iOS 15, making data available to both the ad network and the advertiser.
  • 8-byte data limit. Apple suggests that companies use numbers from 0 to 63 to send over all the possible information about specific action. Not much at all. Same reasons.
  • Only CPI attribution. As of yet, SKAdNetwork can only track installations. Moreover, there are no deferred deep links — no way to launch a specific screen after installing the app.

4. Multi-vector IP Masking

Masking IP addresses will be one of iOS 15 features. In fact, there are two features that do that — Private Relay and Safari ITP. Private Relay is the iCloud+ service for more secure browsing. Replacing user IP with another one from the same region, it prevents websites from tracking user journeys, targeting ads and creating user profiles. However, It doesn’t damage your tracking if your geotargeting suggests using only country-level data.

5. No More Emails

But it’s not just IP addresses that Apple wants to hide. The corporation has also developed a technology called Hide My Email that replaces your personal email address (say, mail@hotmail.com) when you log into Apple services. As a result, other parties can only see a different, automatically generated email (say, ty-4587334984@privaterelay.appleid.com). This way, users can still receive emails to their personal inboxes, but targeting services have one less parameter to identify users.

6. App Privacy Report

App Privacy Report is an additional section in settings which shows users all apps that collect data about user activity, as well as where and how often they upload such information. In fact, it might result in building up customers’ anxiety and decrease chances that users will grant apps access to IDFA. At the same time, it means increasing the value of SKAdNetwork for all mobile marketers. This isn’t critical, but it can’t be avoided and will certainly influence all of us just the same. However, it can also add value to SKAdNetwork for those working with mobile platforms.

What can we do?

Well, we still have plenty of options left. First-party cookies will probably never go away, and server-to-server integration with advertisers is still reliable. If you’re worried about regular redirects, then the companies have their own original solutions, just like Admitad Affiliate has the Teleport algorithm, which provides tracking without redirects even taking into account all the restrictions.

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