iOS 14’s Intelligent Tracking Prevention presents a new headache for publishers

ITP and headche for publishers Rect

Prior to the public launch of iOS and iPadOS 14 Facebook and countless others voiced concern that new privacy changes within the new OS would negatively impact their businesses. That feature, IDFA, or Identifier for Advertisers allows apps to track users across apps in order to provide “personalized” ads.

As a response to the concern, Apple delayed the launch of the feature as a way to give companies and advertisers time to find workarounds. While Apple has offered them that mercy, iOS/iPadOS 14 still has another feature that publishers are bracing for. In 2017 Apple introduced Intelligent Tracking Prevention to Safari on iOS. The feature makes it harder for publishers and websites to track you as you browse the web.

For example, if you were to view traveling to the Bahamas on one site, you may notice that ads related to the Bahamas begin to appear across other websites in advertisements. ITP cracks down on that within Apple’s native browser. On this year’s software releases, iOS/iPadOS 14 and macOS Big Sur Apple forces all browsers that use it’s WKWebView API to enable ITP by default.

Many browsers already have built-in ITP such as Brave and Firefox, however, Chrome does nit without Apple’s enforcement. As expected, the feature is already causing some publishers to brace for impact as now they’ll have less data on visotrs, hence making it harder to provide peroanlzied ads and content.

As DigiDays reports, the true impact on publishers will be dependent on how much traffic their websites are getting from certain platforms. For example, 55.2% of macOS users use Chrome vs. 37.9% on Safari. With macOS Big Sur expected to debut in November, all apps using the WKWebView will have ITP enabled by default, as per the report.

Some 55.2% of Mac OS users are on Chrome, which has a 4.9% share of the iOS browser market, according to Netmarketshare. The vast majority, 93.1%, of iPhone users opt for Apple’s Safari, while 37.9% of Mac users browse the web on Apple’s browser. (Mac only has a 9.4% share of the desktop operating system market.) At present on MacOS, ITP only affects Safari. However, in the next software version — Big Sur which features an iOS/iPadOS app compatibility mode, expected at some point later this year — ITP will affect any of the apps running in that mode, according to Cory Underwood, a platform engineer at data company Search Discovery.

“The impact on a given publisher is dependent on how much share of each OS they have on their site,” said Paul Bannister, chief strategy officer at Cafe Media. “These are all definitely data points that each publisher should understand about their audience so they can anticipate and measure the impact.”


Thankfully, publishers do have a workaround called CNAME cloaking which gives websites more persistent browser cookies that arent deleted after 7 days as automatically done by Apple’s ITP. The method has been used in the past, however, DigiDays reports that Apple will put an end to it soon sometime this year. Antone Boreine who is a researcher and development engineer at YRGLM says that even if Apple cracks down on CNAME cloaking, publishers will still find new ways to bypass ITP that are harder to detect.

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Sami started falling in love with Apple in 2010 with the iPhone 4S. As a registered developer, he deeply admires the world of Apple. Sami is an aspiring journalist, writer, and actor. He also has devoted his life to sharing his passion and knowledge with others around the world.