First Apple came for our headphone jacks. Then they came for our first-party cookies.
I’m inclined to agree, more or less. User trust in digital fosters deeper engagement, which is better for publishers and advertisers. Trust comes from transparency, and any companies with a stake in digital advertising ought to do their part to educate users about what they’re doing. Apple is skipping ahead with ITP, making decisions for Safari users without educating users and allowing them to make their own privacy choices. Even for people who are conversant in the moving parts that allow digital advertising to be distributed, Apple’s new policy can be hard to follow. For people who aren’t in the business of knowing this stuff already, it’s a total headache.
Safari has a heavy foothold in mobile, but depending on who you ask, its share of the browser market is somewhere around 18%. By comparison, Chrome still nabs more mobile browser market share by a long shot. The ITP policy serves to only further chip away at an already fragmented space. The industry at large hasn’t “solved” cross-device measurement. It sounds right now like Apple is okay with hobbling that process of mastering cross-device ad targeting before platforms and publishers can give users the opportunity to choose whether or not they want to be on the receiving end of it.
Mobile monetization is an ongoing sore spot for publishers at large. Creating a Safari-sized blind spot in the ecosystem would seem to only push more mobile advertiser spend toward Facebook Audience Network, where they have a logged-in and verified audience at scale. That’s not ideal for publishers, who have concerns about opacity around the data FAN gives or doesn’t give them. At first glance, it appears Apple is handing a big ol’ gift to the Duopoly here, and it feels like a premature decision.
Apple’s ultimate goal here might become clearer as time progresses and the industry reacts. At the moment, it seems like this is a call to accelerate cookieless cross-device tracking methods, and for publishers and vendors to form new kinds of partnerships. The ad-supported model isn’t going anywhere, and those who are invested in it will need to find some new workarounds in mobile.