Safari Browser Changes vs. Advertisers: What You Need to Know

Senior Digital Analyst
Published 11/8/18
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Safari users who upgrade to 12.0 version will be happy to learn that the version also includes an update to their Intelligent Tracking Protection (ITP). ITP version 1.0 launched summer 2017 with Safari 11.0.

ITP makes it difficult for advertisers to track Safari users’ behavior from website to website. It’s a feature to make users feel more secure. Safari updated to 12.0 in September 2018, strengthening that privacy feature with ITP 2.0.

However, if you’re an advertiser, these changes don’t make you happy at all.

ITP 2.0 makes it even harder for advertisers to collect data about Safari browser users and their surfing habits and interactions with websites after clicking through ads.

Without getting too technical, the changes involve first-party and third-party cookies: Cookies retain data about the user after they click on an ad, go to a website, etc. This information is sent to advertisers to better understand user behavior and conversions, and is used to optimize campaigns to reach more visitors to visit and convert on their site. Safari’s changes now limit the information sent to advertisers.

Safari isn’t alone in these types of privacy controls: Chrome rolled out a new adblocker earlier in 2018 to filter out “intrusive ad experiences” for its users by blocking ads on sites that do not follow the Better Ads Standards. Firefox is also looking into blocking tracking and giving users more control over their data in the near future.

What to do if you’re an advertiser placing ads to bring visitors to your website and need to track their behavior, especially conversions on your website?

Google has a plan!

But to take advantage of Google’s plan, you need to implement site-wide tagging on your website. There are two ways to do this: (1) Google Tag Manager or (2) Google’s global site tags.

Google also made changes to make sure advertisers using Google Ads (formerly AdWords) can still track Safari browser user data across websites.

For advertisers using Google Ads, Google Campaign Manager (formerly Doubleclick Media) and other third-party advertising, side-wide tagging in addition to Google’s cookie changes can retain the data advertisers are looking for, key of which is conversions.

Google Tag Manager is a tag management system that is implemented site-wide for usage of analytics tags, advertising tags, scripts and pixels as well as other marketing needs. Google created a conversion linker tag as part of its response to Safari’s changes last summer.

The global site tags, also called “gtags,” are a “new tagging library that works across Google’s site and conversion-measurement products” — meaning they work with analytics, Google Ads and Google Campaign Manager.

According to Google, whom has contacted advertisers in the past few months about Safari’s changes, either of these options will help advertisers continue to track data from Safari users who click on ads to reach their website.

Google Tag Manager offers flexibility and agility in terms of adding tags to an admin and only one container script is placed site-wide by a developer. Gtags are JavaScript-based and are added to pages for overall event data to be sent to Google products.

For clients unfamiliar with or not interested in using a tag management system, gtags are an option. If you’re using one, you don’t need the other.

Miles’ website and most advertising clients use Google Tag Manager with the conversion linker implemented.

As browsers continue to work for user privacy, and as advertisers continue to seek more data about users clicking on ads, there will continue to be changes and updates in how advertisers can receive the data they need. We’re here to keep you up to date on what’s happening.