written by: Tung Wing Yu, Ruby

If you are an Apple user, you must have received a notification to ask you to update your iOS system. The launch of iOS 11 is associated with the new iPhone8 and iPhoneX. There is one new specific update on the default browser of iOS – Safari that stirred up a huge debate in the advertising industry, affecting all the Apple fans out there.

Built-in Intelligent Tracking Prevention (ITP)
Intelligent tracking is a process of monitoring and remembering all the action you performed in the Internet. ‘Cookies’ is one of the most popular monitoring system adopted by the websites; different ‘Cookies’ would have different functions: getting your ad preference or your browsing habit or simply just your browse history. Intelligent tracking has a growing importance in digital marketing as it provides data for ad response analysis and remarketing.

In the updated iOS 11, Safari has limited the function of cookies. They can only track users’ across the sites within 24 hours and after that all the conversion attribution will be lost.
This new update in iOS has arouse great concern from the ad industry. The Advertising Agencies Giants (4A’s, AAF, ANA, DMA, IAB, NAI) have signed an open letter to accuse Apple for blocking cookies in Safari. They believed that this act would hurt the economic model in digital marketing and will make ads more generic and less useful. [1] However, with all these criticism, Apple still launched the iOS 11 update.

‘It’s not about blocking ads, but your privacy is protected’ Craig Federighi (the senior vice-president of software engineering in Apple) said.
Users’ privacy and ad efficiency is always in a great tension that pulling against each other. There is a Chinese saying about when a snipe and oysters fight, it is the fisherman who reaps the rewards. (鷸蚌相爭 漁人得利) In this case, who is the fisherman in this new update in Safari? Who gets the most advantages?

The answer is: all the websites or search engines that required signing in are going to benefit in this fight. They are not affected by the blocking of Cookies as they use users’ account to track instead of their HTTP; with the blocking of Cookies, ad agencies are likely to change their ad placement to these websites as the response of ad can be monitored. The vigorous response from the advertising giants has also shown the importance of big data analysis in advertising industry. Ad is always like a stimulus and response thing, and the response is becoming more measurable with new technology. This definitely changes the advertising industry landscape .

No one knows exactly the real impact of Apple’s launch of ITP yet. Now that many major advertisers (e.g. P&G and Uber) are questioning the efficiency of programmatic buy and threatening to cut digital ad spending, for sure the 1 billion active Apple iOS devices users and their browsing activities would become less transparent to advertisers. [2]

[1] http://www.adweek.com/digital/every-major-advertising-group-is-blasting-apple-for-blocking-cookies-in-the-safari-browser/
[2] https://www.cnet.com/news/iphone-x-our-biggest-questions-about-the-phone-we-dont-have/

1. http://searchengineland.com/google-analytics-adwords-response-apple-intelligent-tracking-prevention-282233
2. https://www.theverge.com/2017/6/6/15747300/apple-safari-ad-tracking-cookie-blocker-google-facebook-privacy