How the Safari 14 Intelligent Tracking Prevention (ITP) Updates Impact B2B Advertisers
What is Intelligent Tracking Prevention (ITP)?
In June 2020, Apple announced that it would release a new set of privacy features that will restrict 3rd party applications from tracking and targeting web visitors on Safari and iOS devices.
Both updates are projected to be released in early spring, as early as March 2021.
Update 04/05/2021: In an interview with The New York Times, Tim Cook said that the tracking privacy updates will be released to customers in ‘just a few weeks.’
The Safari 14 update includes Intelligent Tracking Prevention (ITP), which flag 3rd party tracking scripts and strips them of their ability to track users across other domain.
This does not mean that Safari will block scripts from working on your website. Tools like Google Analytics, Clearbit Reveal, and other on-site tracking will still work just fine.
Instead, it means that advertising platforms will not be able to track users behavior when someone leaves your website and visits another website that does not belong to you.
Like the iOS 14.5 privacy updates, this will primarily impact Facebook and B2B display advertising products (especially if those display networks rely on cookies to track users and display ads on other websites).
How does ITP impact B2B advertisers?
As of November 2020, Safari accounts for 19.24% of all browser usage (StatCounter).
Intelligent Tracking Prevention (ITP) strips third party trackers of their ability to follow Safari users across multiple websites and track their behavior.
This will have its largest impact on Facebook and B2B display networks who rely on cross-domain tracking to identify users, track their behavior, and show ads based on site visits (retargeting) and contextual signals (account-based advertising).
Specifically, ITP will...
- Shrink retargeting audiences. Facebook and B2B display networks rely heavily on cross-site profiling and targeting to serve retargeting ads. This, alongside iOS 14.5 is expected to reduce the size of retargeting audiences substantially over time.
- Damage B2B display ad network targeting. Ad targeting schemes that rely on cross-site profiling and targeting are dead in the water. This will likely hurt B2B display ad networks the most, since they rely on cross-site tracking to surface off-site intent signals (like accounts visiting a Forbes article with a specific keyword). Expect lower reach, fewer intent signals, and less accurate targeting over time.
This means that advertisers will have to rely more on direct data uploads for prospecting, retargeting, and conversion tracking.
Will Google Ads be impacted by ITP?
Google is impacted by the same rules as Facebook and other advertising networks, but the impact on advertisers hasn't been so extreme.
Why is Google ok, but Facebook is hurting?
The big difference is, Google owns a vast majority of devices and browser usage in the world.
Google Chrome accounts for 63.54% of browsers used worldwide (StatCounter), and Android accounts for 71.93% of all mobile operating systems.
In other words, Google doesn't need to track users across websites using cookies... because Google already owns most of the devices and browsers (meaning they own the data from people using those devices and browsers).
Probably why you haven't heard much from Google... And why they're so eager to support the elimination of cookie tracking.
After all, it hurts their competitors a lot, but hurts them very little.
How to adapt to the death of 3rd party cookies
As more browsers and operating systems restrict the use and effectiveness of 3rd party cookies, B2B advertisers should look to solutions that allow them to build audiences and track conversions via direct data uploads.
Use Prospect and Contact Audiences for resilient targeting
For example, B2B advertisers can build high-quality audiences that reach hundreds millions of business users using Prospect Audiences.
B2B advertisers can also use Contact Audiences to orchestrate retargeting campaigns by syncing contact data directly from their CRM.
For example, you can easily sync a dynamic list of contacts who downloaded content or registered for a webinar, but have not converted to an MQL or opportunity. Using a tool like Clearbit Advertising, they can maximize your reach by improving match rates using our corporate-to-person identify matching technology.
Because Prospect and Contact Audiences are created via direct data uploads, platforms like Apple cannot block or restrict Facebook's ability to identify and target these users. Because Clearbit uses corporate-to-personal identity matching that does not rely on IDFA identifiers, these audiences are resilient from iOS 14.5 updates and any future policy changes that could impact 3rd party tracking systems.
Supplement retargeting with Account-Based Prospect Audiences
Intelligent Prevention Tracking (ITP) and Apple's latest iOS 14.5 privacy updates are projected to have devastating affects on advertiser's retargeting strategies.
The biggest impact will be on the reach of retargeting audiences, which will reduce. This reduction will restrict the supply of targetable users, lowering conversion volume and increasing acquisition costs.
This is especially difficult for B2B advertisers who rely on retargeting audiences as a source of high-intent, qualified leads.
Advertisers can supplement their retargeting audiences with account-based prospect audiences. Using Clearbit's Reveal technology, advertisers can identify qualified companies visiting their site based on the visitor's IP (which is not blocked by ITP or iOS 14.5) and then prospect into those accounts, targeting all of the relevant influencers, stakeholders, and decision makers from that company.
Because Clearbit's account-based prospect audiences are created via direct data uploads, and do not rely on cross-domain tracking or 3rd party cookies, these audiences are resilient to ITP and iOS 14.5.
Implement Server-Side Conversion Tracking
In response to Safari 14 and iOS 14.5, both Facebook and Google have been pushing advertisers to switch from traditional cookie-based conversion tracking to offline conversion tracking.
Facebook calls their solution the Conversion API (CAPI). It allows advertisers to send conversion data directly to Facebook, server to server. This allows advertisers to bypass browser and operating system restrictions, and ensure that 100% of their event data is received by Facebook.
Google offers a similar solution, called Offline Conversion Tracking (OCT). Like Facebook, it allows advertisers to upload their conversion data directly to Google's servers.
Both solutions provide additional benefits for B2B advertisers that should be taken advantage of.
First, advertisers can use enrichment data and lead scoring to send MQL data back to Facebook and Google. This allows advertisers to train the ad systems to find and convert quality leads, and avoid pesky students and hobbyists that spam their lead forms.
Second, B2B advertisers can send predictive lead values with each conversion, which tells Facebook and Google how much each lead is worth to the business. This allows Facebook and Google to make smarter bidding decision by bidding more for high-value leads (e.g. enterprise demo requests) and less for low-value ones (e.g. SMB signups).
Clearbit Advertising provides out-of-the-box support for offline conversions tracking on Facebook and Google, including the ability to score leads and assign predicted lead values.
The recent Safari 14 ITP updates, coupled with the launch of iOS 14.5, will hurt retargeting and conversion tracking on Facebook and B2B display networks.
Advertisers should adapt by adopting targeting and conversion tracking strategies that rely on direct data transfers (like customer list uploads and offline conversion tracking) that are resilient to cookie-blocking technology.
Customers can also use Conversions to bypass 3rd party privacy blockers, ensuring their conversions are reliably tracked and are available to help Facebook and Google optimize their campaigns.