What To Do With ITP 2

 In Data, Data Governance, Insights and Analytics, Under the Hood

Reading Time: 3 minutes

What is ITP 2?

Apple’s Intelligent Tracking Prevention (ITP) version 2 was released with Safari this year. This is the first major browser to completely eliminate third-party cookies on the web. The result is it is now more difficult for cross-site identification in a web browser. That means it is no longer “easy” to tie a specific ad view to a specific device (person) and that person’s movement across different websites is no longer easy to track.

Alternatives to Third-Party Cookies

While blocking third-party cookies is not new (the only thing that is new is that it is the default behavior for Safari), many technology vendors in the ad space have now developed alternate visitor identification techniques such as “fingerprinting”. Fingerprinting attempts to gather all the information available outside of a cookie (such as specific browser plugins installed) and determine a unique identifier for a device.

Fingerprinting attempts to gather all the information available outside of a cookie (such as specific browser plugins installed) and determine a unique identifier for a device. Click To Tweet

Apple is going above and beyond to remove this as well (that’s the “Intelligent” part in ITP). Their hope is that most vendors will stop trying to use clever workarounds, and that may be the case.

3 Primary Cross-site Tracking Scenarios

(1) Track a specific person’s view of a banner ad ( an “ad impression”)

(2) Track a specific person’s click on an ad to a landing page ( a “click-through”)

(3) Track a specific person’s click from one website (example.com) to another (example-checkout.com) on a different, but related, domain (a “link decoration”)

Solutions To Solve For These Scenarios

Digital marketing vendors are solving these scenarios in the following ways:

(1) For ad impressions, there is no quick solution here. There is no known fool-proof solution for tying impressions to a specific person other than fuzzy connections in the fingerprinting category. Cookies could be set in iframes, but Safari will block or will soon block this. Keep in mind, there are plenty of browsers that don’t block third-party cookies by default.

This is important to keep in mind – the end of Safari third-party cookies does not mean the end of third-party cookies.

There was a lot of fuss around “Do Not Track” setting (8 years ago), but it seems ineffective to date. That said, privacy laws on the horizon may mean that in the near future all browsers will be set to block third-party cookies by default.

(2) For click-throughs without a visitor id, there will be an ad id that is later tied to a first-party cookie on the landing site. That will let us know the conversion rate of specific ad copy and the specific people making a purchase after clicking on an ad. If there are a lot of click-throughs on a specific ad that never results in a purchase, it’s time to evaluate shifting spending by turning that ad off.

(3) For link-decorations, it is a first-party visitor id value from the previous domain that passes through to the next domain as part of the URL. Vendors (such as Google Analytics) have been doing this for years. Google, for example, has added support for this in their new “gtag.js” and in Google AMP HTML technology.

What To Do In Tealium iQ Tag Management

Use Tealium iQ to update to the latest tags provided by your vendor. Tealium provides tag configuration to enable and disable features such as Google’s domain linker for “gtag.js” tags.

For Google tags, search for “gtag.js” in the Tealium Tag Marketplace and update your implementation to leverage their latest and greatest. If you have the scenario where your website visitors move from example.com to example-checkout.com then also enable the domain linker setting in your Google Analytics tag configuration. (example below)

Keep in mind, with these changes, it becomes critical you have the absolute fastest TMS possible (Tealium) to run on your landing page to capture this data.

Additional Resources & Reading

“If you use any click-trackers in your tracking URLs, or server-side redirects on your site, make sure they pass on the GCLID (“Google click identifier”) to your landing pages.”


“This technology allows any device connected to the internet to be tracked without the use of cookies by assigning it a unique device fingerprint, using data about the device without any personally identifiable information.”

Trade Doubler

“This solution works by enabling a new parameter to be appended to each CJ click that you can store on your website and pass back to CJ when a transaction occurs.”

Commission Junction

“How Facebook’s solution works. When a user clicks on a Facebook-served ad, a unique string gets appended to the landing page URL.”


Update: March 2019 – Apple plans to release ITP 2.1.  Read more here.

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