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Apple’s Privacy Update: Impact of Safari 14 Tracking Preventions



The impact of Apple’s Privacy Update this week won’t be significantly different than what was already announced in February around ITP 2.1 (see our blog post on this).

The main thing to note is that in December 2020, all cross-site tracking on DuckDuckGo’s Tracker Radar will be turned OFF by default in any browser running on iOS or iPadOS.

What this means is that more browsers will be limited in their ability to send data to other domains (third parties) and if it is flagged, the data being sent may get truncated (e.g. the referrer will only show the referral domain and not the referral path – example: reddit.com vs reddit.com/relevant-thread) and/or blocked entirely.

What It Means For You

Safari 14 is already adhering to the updated privacy changes.

While you might see less granular data come through for these users, declines in the overall percentage of users being tracked aren’t expected. Measuring the impact on your data will require some effort (e.g. comparing server logs to Analytics data) but will help you understand if this update affects your data and if so, by how much.

We’ll definitely see more tracking freedoms removed over time as “privacy-first” becomes bigger. Of course, marketing analytics will be impacted and we’ll have to evolve to work within these new constraints but these updates are primarily to better inform users of what data is being sent/blocked and ultimately reduces the power of third-party tools to access user data stored on the browser.

Local storage and server-side tracking are two ways in which these privacy related roadblocks to tracking are being circumvented.

However, if this is abused, this can be considered a violation of a user’s privacy (enter legal team to determine what is acceptable!).

According to Simo Ahava:

“Browsers running on iOS and iPadOS now must implement WebKit’s ITP mechanisms, which, given iPhone and iPad market share, can have a resounding impact on organizations relying on data collection and sharing. What’s imperative now is that each organization starts benchmarking and modeling the impact of third-party cookie blocking and first-party cookie restrictions on their own data.”

To see the impact on your own data, open up Google Analytics and start to answer the questions below:

  • What percentage of your traffic is coming from iOS?
  • What percentage of your traffic is coming from Safari?
    • What browser versions make up this traffic? (Keep an eye out for Safari 14.0 or higher.)

If iOS makes up a relatively low percentage of your site traffic (below 15%) you are unlikely to experience a significant impact on your data. If iOS traffic is a larger portion of your site traffic, the overall counts of users, sessions, and pageviews are unlikely to be impacted. But your percentage of New Users might increase which will decrease your sessions per user.

We’ll continue to monitor the impact of this update from Apple. Subscribe below for updates or follow us on Twitter (@SeerInteractive) for more information.

Have a question we don’t cover here? Leave it in the comments below and we’ll get back to you on it!


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