ETIP #259

Our New Post-Cookie Reality

Our New Post-Cookie Reality

Apple’s latest release of iOS 11, featured on the iPhone X, includes a (pretty cool) Safari browser feature called Intelligent Tracking Prevention. ITP takes Apple’s user privacy commitment to new heights, using AI-derived techniques to set stricter time limits on first- and third-party web cookies.

While a wake-up call to the digital advertising industry, Apple’s announcement is just the latest development in a global trend to reduce dependence on web cookies, and to invest in new tracking mechanisms adapted to our increasingly mobile-first, multi-device reality.

While web cookies are still the backbone of ad tech, their limitations have become increasingly obvious over time especially because they are limited to individual browsers and devices, not to mention the fact that they skip over mobile apps completely. In this multi-device-driven world, how do we keep track of users as they shift between multiple screens and devices daily?

But not to worry – there are several options for cookieless and cross-device tracking already available.  While the options are varied and come with their own strengths and weaknesses, they tend to adopt one of two approaches:

  • Probabilistic techniques merge user information from multiple, anonymized sources (including device models, browsing behavior and IP addresses) to statistically identify unique users as they move from device to device.
  • Deterministic techniques rely on user-provided identifiers such as device and single-sign-on IDs to craft targeted audiences for advertising.

If you haven’t done so already, it’s time to think about your post-cookie ad strategy!