Apple's ad tracker for Safari costs firms millions of dollars in loss

The loss of just one company reflects upon what could be a larger industry-wide impact.

  • Published: January 10, 2018 4:43 PM IST

Apple introduced the Intelligent Tracking Prevention (ITP) to Safari last year to combat the use of cookies on webpages. However, the move is proving lethal for online advertising businesses most of whom are losing out ‘hundreds of millions of dollars’ in revenue.

Criteo, which is an online advertising company and controls about 15 percent of the browser-based market, is expected to cut its revenue estimate by a fifth for this year as compared to its projections before ITP was introduced. According to a report on Apple Insider, the loss of just one company reflects upon what could be a larger industry-wide impact.

Any web browser today allows you to tweak certain privacy settings such as auto-playing of videos or blocking ads. Some websites use first-party cookies to track browsers but some share your data with brokers, ad companies, and analytics groups, which is used for targeted ads. Consider it as coming across the same product ad on Facebook for which you were scouting Amazon for. It is essentially the work of third parties which use your browsing data and auction it out to companies for targeted ads.

It is for this unwanted third-party tracking that the ITP was injected in Safari in macOS High Sierra last year in fall. Designed to block third-party trackers from using cross-site browsing data for targeting ads, the introduction of ITP was contested by a number of companies who labeled it a threat to the digital ad industry.

It was reported in September that some analytics companies and data brokers had found ways to penetrate privacy settings on Safari which allowed blocking third-party cookies. But Apple removed that loophole with Safari 11 with the use of machine learning, further upsetting the advertisers.

“We expect a range of companies facing similar negative impacts from Apple’s Safari tracking changes,” the general manager of the Interactive Advertising Bureau’s Tech Lab, Dennis Buchheim is quoted saying in the report. “Moreover, we anticipate that Apple will retain ITP and evolve it over time as they see fit.”

Despite the loss projected by online ad companies, it is unlikely that Apple will withdraw ITP from its browser as it enhances the user experience while minimizing the access to potentially harmful websites.

  • Published Date: January 10, 2018 4:43 PM IST