What Brands Need to Know About Full Third-Party Cookie Blocking and ITP 2.3

Data privacy has been top of mind with most of us in the digital space over the past few years.

Last year, Apple released an update to its Intelligent Tracking Prevention feature, known as ITP 2.3, which is included in Safari on iOS13 and Safari 13 on macOS. More recent updates to Safari 13.1 and iOS/iPadOS 13.4 were released late last month and have resulted in all third-party cookies being blocked.

We wanted to update you on what’s different, how it potentially impacts your business, and which steps we advise taking in order for you to minimize any potential impact to your business.

How does the latest Safari update change things?

In summary, it doesn’t change much. The only difference is really that Safari is now blocking all third-party cookies rather than those that are associated with what they considered to be “trackers.” In most cases Rakuten Advertising works with 1st party cookies, so our advertisers should not see too great of an impact.

What is ITP?

ITP is a feature for Safari browsers which was released in September 2017 and which has been updated periodically. At the most basic level, ITP restricts certain browser cookies and limits cross-site consumer tracking capabilities beyond the initial 24-hour period.

How does ITP impact my online business?

If you have the right tools in place, hardly at all. However, not having solutions in place for the latest iterations of ITP could result in advertisers being removed from publisher programs and thus limit the amount of opportunities you have to get in front of new customers. Publishers, meanwhile, could ultimately see commissions suffer by advertisers not being in compliance with ITP 2.3 because advertisers won’t be able to properly determine who gets credit for a sale.

What’s new about ITP 2.3?

ITP 2.3 introduces new behavior that – under certain circumstances – limits access to all browser storage methods (e.g. localStorage) to seven days. This means that information stored in other (non-cookie) browser storage can be lost after 7 days if the user hasn’t interacted with the website in the meantime. Information stored in cookies set via JavaScript scripts will still expire after 1 day when users arrive via certain cross-site capable domains with tracking links as introduced with ITP 2.2.

What can digital marketers do?

We are continuing to work with advertisers and publishers to ensure that it is compatible with the latest ITP updates. We are actively encouraging our advertisers to employ the most current and robust versions of our tracking solutions in order to continue to properly attribute Affiliate and Search conversions.

This includes:

  • Rakuten Advertising Enterprise Web Services (EWS): EWS is a server-to-server tracking process that is not affected by ITP 2.3 if clients store information in cookies that are set on the server side and sent via the http header (instead of cookies placed via JavaScript). This is our preferred method of mitigating any potential impact of the ITP 2.3 update because of its security, reliability and flexibility, which includes real-time reporting. It’s also available at no additional cost.
  • Performance Tag for Advertisers: Formerly known as Single Point of Integration (SPI), the Rakuten Advertising Performance Tag is primarily designed to take advantage of additional tagging that tracks a consumer. This also empowers advertisers to leverage new opportunities like multi-touch attribution without any additional cost or development work required. Like our EWS solution it can use cookie information set by advertisers server-side to be not affected by ITP 2.3 on Safari.

Rakuten Advertising is staying on top of the latest digital trends ranging from data privacy to consumer shopping behavior and advertising expectations that are impacting your business. Our knowledge and ability to stay ahead of these trends informs our product development strategy and helps you adapt to any changes quickly.

Get in touch with us today to learn more about how.

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