Apple's Safari ad tracking prevention tech 'stunningly effective,' says industry executive...

Posted:
in General Discussion edited August 2020
Apple's attempts to shield Safari users on iOS and Mac from privacy-infringing ad tracking technology has been "stunningly effective," according to ad executives, some of whom say features like Intelligent Tracking Prevention (ITP) have severely impacted income.




According to ad industry insiders, Apple's privacy-minded features have resulted in a 60% decrease in pricing for targeted Safari ads, reports The Information. At the same time, ad prices on Google's Chrome browser have risen, according to the report.

That is not to say users of Apple's first-party web browser are less valuable. Indeed, the opposite holds true; the eyes of Safari users are among the most desired because Apple devotees-- iPhone owners in particular -- on average have deeper pockets than users of other platforms and are thus more attractive to advertisers.

As a result of Apple's moves, which began in earnest with the advent of machine learning-powered, unwanted cookie-busting ITP in 2017, advertisers looking to employ cookies as a means to sneak a peek at Safari user habits are being shut down.

"The allure of a Safari user in an auction has plummeted," Rubicon Project CEO Michael Barrett told the publication. "There's no easy ability to ID a user."

Without insight into browsing patterns, Safari users become a low yield target for ad purveyors. And that is by design. With little incentive to invest in ad-serving cookies on Safari, with the security issues that process invites, advertisers are forced to either change tactics or move on to another platform.

According to ad selling software company Nativo, approximately 9% of iPhone-based Safari users on allow web entities to track their browsing habits. That figure grows to 13% on Mac. By contrast, some 79% of Chrome users allow ad tracking on mobile.

Some believe advertisers need to think outside the box when it comes to tapping the rich Apple vein. Jason Kint, CEO of Digital Content Next, told The Information that thanks to Apple's privacy-focused endeavors, alternative targeting methods like contextual advertising are gaining traction. Marketers can, for example, effectively direct users to relatable ads based on the type of articles they read.

Ad firms loath to transition away from cookies are feeling the pinch. Following the release of ITP, Criteo, which controls 15 percent of the browser-based market, said it lost $25 million in revenue in the fourth quarter of 2017, according to the report. In early 2018, the firm said it expected to slash annual revenues by a fifth due in large part to ITP.

Apple has proactively restricted user tracking on the web for years with initial efforts like the Limit Ad Tracking feature in iOS 6. More recently, and with a solid foundation in ITP, the company has further curtailed the use of cookies in Safari and WebKit.

For its part, the company says ITP and successor technologies are designed to enhance consumer privacy, not destroy the online advertising business.
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Comments

  • Reply 1 of 13
    Good. I block most ads, but have always been alarmed by tracking. Now Apple needs to develop technology to drain Facebook's income.
    edited December 2019 dysamoriaFileMakerFellerDAalsethlostkiwiStrangeDayspropodacheron2018watto_cobra
  • Reply 2 of 13
    Do you hear me playing the tiniest violin for the poor ad executives?

    No?

    That’s because they’re not even worth a tiny amount of even mock sympathy. 
    FileMakerFellerDAalsethbaconstangwatto_cobra
  • Reply 3 of 13
    elijahgelijahg Posts: 2,330member
    This excellent, the ad companies have only themselves to blame. The irony is strong with this one though, since AI itself has hordes of privacy invading trackers.
    DAalsethlostkiwiStrangeDaysSpamSandwichwatto_cobramaltz
  • Reply 4 of 13
    MplsPMplsP Posts: 3,268member
     By contrast, some 79% of Chrome users allow ad tracking on mobile.“ 

    yeah, if you use Chrome you’ve basically admitted you’re ok with tracking. 

    This is yet another reason I stick with Apple. They’re not perfect, but they’re miles ahead in a lot of areas and this is one of them. 
    DAalsethlostkiwiStrangeDaysviclauyycnewBelieveracheron2018watto_cobrasteveau
  • Reply 5 of 13
    DAalsethDAalseth Posts: 1,730member
    Suck on it Ad Executives. You've made your adds obnoxious so I block them. Does it hurt sites that depend on ad revenue? Yes, but it's the fault of the obnoxious ads, not my acting in self defence.
    lostkiwiacheron2018minicoffeewatto_cobrajony0
  • Reply 6 of 13
    While I love free websites, I do realize they have to pay the bills somehow, and ads are one good way to do that. I wonder if the websites could transition more to other models, like voluntary donations, individual and corporate sponsorships, and/or affiliate links to, say, Amazon? And maybe try to target the ads to the site, not to the user. Because it’s odd to be on, say, a tech website and see ads for, pretend, Hanes underwear, JUST because I browsed the underwear section of a malls website two weeks ago. 
    watto_cobra
  • Reply 7 of 13
    This well may be true, but I'm not buying it. Look at the known facts, that the personal user can evaluate: Safari no longer supports real ad-blocking. That was stripped away somewhere around safari 12.x  to the now Sarari 13.x. Can no longer use Uorgin (the real one, not that fake junk on the App Store). Can no longer use Grease/Tamper Monkey. Etc. Sad. For those who cry it's because of privacy... no. The watered down "allowed" safari blockers, also allow privacy invasion. The consumer loses out the biggest here.  
  • Reply 8 of 13
    MplsPMplsP Posts: 3,268member
    digitol said:
    This well may be true, but I'm not buying it. Look at the known facts, that the personal user can evaluate: Safari no longer supports real ad-blocking. That was stripped away somewhere around safari 12.x  to the now Sarari 13.x. Can no longer use Uorgin (the real one, not that fake junk on the App Store). Can no longer use Grease/Tamper Monkey. Etc. Sad. For those who cry it's because of privacy... no. The watered down "allowed" safari blockers, also allow privacy invasion. The consumer loses out the biggest here.  
    Blocking ads is not the same as blocking tracking.
    watto_cobra
  • Reply 9 of 13
    DAalseth said:
    Suck on it Ad Executives. You've made your adds obnoxious so I block them. Does it hurt sites that depend on ad revenue? Yes, but it's the fault of the obnoxious ads, not my acting in self defence.
    More, if the ad networks had simply stuck to serving benign ads rather than deploying creeper tracking, many users would never have felt the need to install blockers. But if installing blockers for trackers, there’s little reason not to utilize the whole kit and caboodle. 
    edited December 2019 minicoffeewatto_cobra
  • Reply 10 of 13

    digitol said:
    This well may be true, but I'm not buying it. Look at the known facts, that the personal user can evaluate: Safari no longer supports real ad-blocking. That was stripped away somewhere around safari 12.x  to the now Sarari 13.x. Can no longer use Uorgin (the real one, not that fake junk on the App Store). Can no longer use Grease/Tamper Monkey. Etc. Sad. For those who cry it's because of privacy... no. The watered down "allowed" safari blockers, also allow privacy invasion. The consumer loses out the biggest here.  
    How do you mean? Safari supports 1Blocker, via the content blocker engine. 
    watto_cobra
  • Reply 11 of 13
    swat671 said:
    While I love free websites, I do realize they have to pay the bills somehow, and ads are one good way to do that. I wonder if the websites could transition more to other models, like voluntary donations, individual and corporate sponsorships, and/or affiliate links to, say, Amazon? And maybe try to target the ads to the site, not to the user. Because it’s odd to be on, say, a tech website and see ads for, pretend, Hanes underwear, JUST because I browsed the underwear section of a malls website two weeks ago. 
    It's not a question about either ads, or no ads at all; rather it is a question about tracking, and that happens both with and without ads showing.

    For instance, back in the day the only way to get statistics about your visitors were to check the logs on your own server, but then third parties started offering easy to use services like that by you placing a bit of of their code in your webpages. Now that third party couldn't just give you information about your visitors, but they could track those people between different websites.

    It's the same with any other third party code/data added to webpages; things like javascript libraries, social media feeds, third party logins (like facebook). Simply by passively being available in the webpage it allows that third party to track the visitors between websites.

    (With anti-tracking features becoming more and more the norm these third parties have even started getting direct access to certain platforms/logs; meaning that as users there's nothing for our webbrowsers to block to shield us from third party tracking.)

    Then that information is sold; and it isn't just sold sort of innocently or indirectly to people placing ads by wanting to target an anonymous group of people in a certain area, or with certain interests. Instead it's sold to companies specialising in buying information from several sources, and combining it. And they use https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Data_re-identification.

    Basically they end up with a file on you that contains everything from credit score and education to that porn you looked at while using your browser's privacy mode (because either a form of prevalent cookies/bugs, or simply because you used the same connection for your mail app or social media).

    That's the real problem. That tracking, and how there's no real way for any normal person to have any insight into it happening, is a huge problem.

    The ads is sort of just the tip of the iceberg that makes the issue more relatable to the average person. It helps the issue become more tangible.
    gatorguyelijahg
  • Reply 12 of 13
    cgWerkscgWerks Posts: 2,720member
    I think it has a way to go, though. The other day, I was having major problems trying to use comments on CBCs site, and it was slow, etc. in Safari. So, I got the idea to give Brave a try, and was pretty blown away. It was kind of night and day, and almost usable on Brave.

    (I just don't know what the major media are thinking... or better, not thinking. They seem to just keep throwing cr*p on their sites until they can't even work any longer. My hunch is that they aren't really thinking, everyone has their finger in the pie.)

    As for ads, I think the model is just horribly broken. Advertisers are clueless about what kind of exposure is valuable. People running ads seem to be, too. So, the pile just keeps getting bigger and bigger while income drops.

    I think we're eventually going to have to go back to some kind of micro-paid/subscription model for the content, or even better, a value-for-value type of system for content that can fit that model. For example, there are several podcasts (like No Agenda, Congressional Dish, Stand to Reason, etc.) that have been using that model successfully for many years now. And, no ads.

    And, when it comes to effective ads, they are best when in-line with the content and sincerely promoted by the host/source. That's how several companies (think mattresses) have completely upset the big players, because the get that (though, that's a bad example for fit, but even then, it worked). I've purchased several products because I heard about them on a podcast, and not ad-insertion ads, but because the hosts loved a product and told me about it.

    Here's the thing (recently heard this) on ad effectiveness : YouTube pre-roll ad 0.5%, 0.6% Snapchat, 0.9% Twitter, 2.9% Pinterest, 3.1% Instagram, 4.7% Facebook, 7.6% Bing search, 8.9% Google search, 61% podcasts. (New Media Show #268).
  • Reply 13 of 13
    cgWerkscgWerks Posts: 2,720member

    svanstrom said:
    Then that information is sold; and it isn't just sold sort of innocently or indirectly to people placing ads by wanting to target an anonymous group of people in a certain area, or with certain interests. Instead it's sold to companies specialising in buying information from several sources, and combining it. And they use https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Data_re-identification.

    Basically they end up with a file on you that contains everything from credit score and education to that porn you looked at while using your browser's privacy mode (because either a form of prevalent cookies/bugs, or simply because you used the same connection for your mail app or social media).
    Yep, and Jordan Harbinger had a guest on a while back who explained what happens then in, say China, with social scores, and what could easily happen here too. That starts to get applied to everyday things you do. Maybe when you apply for a job, or your kids for college, you/they just get denied and you never really know why. But, it might be because your social score was too low or flagged something. Or, when you go to buy some kind of product or insurance, your costs go up compared to your neighbors' because of that score. Life becomes harder for you (you dissident), and easier for those who better comply.
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