The ITP 2.0 Journey: Maintaining an Effective Social Conversion Strategy

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In iOS 12, Apple has introduced a new Intelligent Tracking Prevention (ITP 2.0) that will block third-party trackers from capturing cross-site browsing data for ad targeting purposes in Safari. This not only reduces the amount of customer data that advertisers will have access to, but it also limits visibility into conversion paths and multi-touch attribution strategies. Platforms are exploring ways to mitigate the tracking loss, but in the meantime we forecast that 10-15% of conversions may not be properly tracked due to the loss of cookies under ITP 2.0. Advertisers will need to start normalizing their views of performance to account for the increased lack of visibility.

ITP 2.0 is an iteration on Apple’s original ITP, which allowed cookies to be tracked for 24 hours. Now, that 24-hour window is zero. Apple is not the only company putting limitations on cookies – Mozilla also announced that Firefox would soon strip cookies and block storage access from third-party trackers. This is also consistent with user preferences and behavior, as 51% of US internet users already regularly clear their cookies or browser history and 44% refuse to provide info or opt out of cookie use.

On October 5, Facebook announced the release of first-party cookie options for ads, a solution within the Facebook pixel to allow advertisers to continue using analytic data based on traffic to site. “We are offering a first-party cookie option for the Facebook Pixel to help businesses continue understanding site activity and ad attribution across browsers,” Facebook corporate communications manager Joe Osborne said in a statement to Adweek.

“This change is in line with updates made by other online platforms, as use of first-party cookies for ads and analytics is becoming the preferred approach by some browsers,” he continued. “The controls people have over ads will not change.” Microsoft and Google announced similar first-party cookie options this year.

On October 24, the Facebook pixel automatically began to write first-party cookies (unless manually opted out in the Events Manager). No change is needed for advertisers to begin using the first-party cookie as long as the Facebook pixel is installed on your site.

Advertisers should also make use of Advanced Pixel Matching on Facebook, a setting in the Events Manager that takes existing consumer behavior on your website (filling out an email form, for example) and matches it back to people on Facebook. This increases the number of people available for custom audiences, increases the number of attributable conversions, and improves optimization accuracy. It is also fully GDPR compliant, but should be reviewed to ensure it matches your brand’s data and privacy policies.

Other platforms that could be impacted by ITP 2.0 include LinkedIn, Twitter, and Pinterest. LinkedIn is looking for ways to mitigate tracking loss, as they anticipate features like retargeting and demographic analytics could be affected. Pinterest has already rolled out a few enhancements to the Pinterest tag, including enhanced match, new (first-party) cookie, and cross-device tracking. Twitter, meanwhile, does not anticipate much of an impact since they do not accept third-party cookies. The Twitter pixel already uses first-party cookie data.