September marks the time of year for shorter days, cooler temperatures, and… Apple keynotes.
With the official release of iOS 17 comes new privacy-focused features, namely their Link Tracking Protection. Google has also rolled out the Privacy Sandbox initiative this month, their proposed solution to third-party cookie deprecation.
Why is Apple doubling down on privacy?
In recent years, a shift towards enhancing online privacy has taken center stage across the tech industry. Browsers, platforms, and regulatory bodies alike are steering the ship towards a more privacy-conscious digital landscape. This journey is making headway, fueled by a growing desire to cater to user demands for control and transparency when it comes to when, what, and where data is collected and used.
iOS 17, unveiled in June at Apple’s Worldwide Developers Conference, was officially released on September 18, 2023. The main feature that stirred marketers was their Intelligent Link Tracking Protection. While some websites add extra information to their URLs in order to track users across the web (i.e. URL parameters), this information will now be automatically removed from the links users share in Messages and Mail, as well as Safari Private Browsing. Since Apple is only stripping user-identifiable tracking, marketers need not worry about other commonly used tracking parameters, such as campaign, source, and medium. An example of the kind of tracking removed is below:
Changes to online marketing, especially within Apple’s ecosystem, are nothing new. As with the previous iOS releases—the removal of third-party cookies in Safari, App Tracking Transparency, and Private Relay—Wunderkind continues to be at the forefront of privacy-first marketing, and our teams are hard at work to ensure we are able to drive the same value for our clients despite whichever changes are announced next.
Are third-party cookies really going away in 2024?
While it has felt like the deprecation of third-party cookies in Chrome has been looming for years, the day of reckoning is finally within reach. Google announced that it will officially deprecate third-party cookies for 1% of Chrome users at the beginning of 2024, with full deprecation on track for the end of 2024. Pressure for an alternative to third-party cookies is being answered via Google’s Privacy Sandbox, as “an industry-wide effort to develop new technology that will improve people’s privacy,” which was rolled out to the majority of Chrome users at the beginning of this month.
Features of the Sandbox rollout include Protected Audience API for remarketing, Attribution Reporting API for conversion measurement, and the much-buzzed-about Topics API. Topics allows users to manage their interests and group them into cohorts based on similar browsing patterns instead of tracking individuals across the web. Information is only stored for a limited period of time to protect consumer privacy, an approach that makes creating detailed profiles of individual consumers (otherwise known as microtargeting) virtually impossible.
Google notes that these topics will not include any sensitive categories like gender or race. To figure out your interests, Google categorizes the sites you visit based on a set number of topics. For sites that it hasn’t categorized before, a lightweight machine learning algorithm in the browser will take over and provide an estimated topic based on the name of the domain.
Wunderkind has a continuous dedication to people, privacy, and ideas. Privacy is not an afterthought—it is baked into our product from the beginning. Wunderkind supports industry-wide efforts to preserve user privacy while still allowing advertisers, publishers, and vendors to meet their business objectives. As we begin to introduce new systems and sunset older tech, thorough testing will be necessary to strike an effective balance between privacy and personalization.
With Topics and UID2 becoming popular alternatives to cookies, Wunderkind remains poised to embrace these new ways of handling user info. As they stand today, the iOS 17 updates outlined above and Google’s Privacy Sandbox do not have an impact on the Wunderkind product suite. We will continue to test and monitor any future releases to ensure we deliver the best experiences for users and drive the most value for our clients.