For several years, Apple has been on a mission to prevent advertisers from tracking users without consent. We’ve written extensively about past updates from Apple since these changes can impact tracking conversions and user journeys in partnerships programs.
At the Worldwide Developers Conference 2023 (WWDC23), Apple announced their latest user privacy and tracking updates. Let’s discuss these proposed changes, and then go over how they interact with impact.com’s tracking capabilities.
The latest Apple user privacy and tracking updates
Link Tracking Prevention
Removing some URL query string parameters from links that pass through Messages, Mail, and Safari Private Browsing. URL query string parameters are a key tool for marketers to pass metadata from point to point along a user’s journey, and we use them at impact.com to keep track of things like which publisher referred a given sale and which ad or link the user clicked on.
Removing scripts from known trackers in Safari Private Browsing
Privacy Manifests for third-party SDK’s and API’s
Apple will now require app developers to declare how they intend to use any third-party SDKs or APIs that could be used for fingerprinting. Developers will be expected to abide by their stated use, though it’s not clear how Apple intends to enforce this new rule.
(This next section focuses primarily on the first two points, since Apple has not yet released many details on the third.)
How do Apple’s latest tracking updates affect impact.com?
Link Tracking Prevention could result in some impact.com tracking parameters being stripped from links. However, early tests indicate that Apple is using a predefined list of known click ID parameters, and commonly used impact.com parameters are not included.
We’re pushing forward with tracking improvements that follow a Privacy by Design philosophy, to make sure we’re prepared for any future changes here.
If a later version of Safari does impact our tag, we estimate that the Private Browsing script removal could affect between 1-5 percent of conversions. With that scenario, the solution to preventing tracking drop-off here is the same as it has been so many times before: brands should adopt server-to-server tracking.
The changes are expected to go into effect this fall, though there is no date yet for the release. In the meantime, we’ll continue testing and adapting our tracking technology as needed to ensure it remains the partnerships industry’s gold standard.
Our guiding philosophy: Privacy by Design
It’s been clear for some time that the industry is moving toward increased user privacy and we want to stay ahead of the game—despite anticipating no meaningful disruption to tracking capabilities due to the recent announcement. As we continually work to improve and future-proof our tracking systems, we embrace the seven key principles of the Privacy by Design (PbD) framework.
- Proactive Approach: Taking preventative measures rather than remedial fixes to address privacy risks before they occur.
- Privacy as the Default Setting: Designing systems to automatically protect individual privacy without requiring additional user action.
- Privacy Embedded into Design: Integrating privacy as an essential component of our system architecture and practices from the start.
- Full Functionality: Striving to achieve all legitimate objectives without compromising user privacy.
- End-to-End Security: Ensuring secure management of data throughout its lifecycle, from collection to destruction.
- Visibility and Transparency: Operating transparently, providing clear information on data processing practices, and allowing independent verification.
- Respect for User Privacy: Prioritizing the interests and preferences of individuals by offering strong privacy defaults, clear notice, and user-friendly options.
Our team will continue to evolve our tracking systems in a way that maximizes value for brands, ensures proper attribution for publishers, and protects the privacy of the consumers upon whom the entire partnership economy relies. If you have any questions, please reach out to your CSM or PDM, or get in touch with our incredible support team by clicking the blue question mark button at the bottom of your impact.com dashboard.