What is Intelligent Tracking Prevention, and how will it impact your site?
Up until now, web tracking tools such as Google Analytics and Adobe Omniture have been a marketer's best friend in understanding their users and maximising ROI. We are living in a golden age of data collection, rushing to our data collection point just like the old miners of Alaska once rushed to their gold mines.
But with institutions such as EU and ICO starting to regulate data collection and protecting end user's rights, collecting data online in the future may not be as easy as it is currently. And it is not only institutions that are trying to prevent data collection, some of the big tech companies are taking measures against this as well.
Intelligent Tracking Prevention (ITP) is a technology that aims to prevent analytics cookies from being stored in your browser. Ultimately, its aim is to prevent companies and organisations from tracking users' behaviour online, especially cross-domain.
In practical terms, ITP started by cutting out third-party cookies by platforms like Google and Facebook placed on sites not owned by them, meaning that cross-domain tracking was more or less blocked. When Google created a workaround for this (changing their Google Analytics cookie from a third-party to a first-party cookie), the ITP technology was adapted to deal with this as well. The latest version of ITP (2.2) cuts the lifespan of Facebook's and Google's (and many other tracking/advertising platforms) first-party cookies to 24 hours.
What does this mean in practical terms?
Imagine that a person clicks on an ad for a product on a Friday afternoon that leads to your website, but then takes the weekend to decide whether to buy the item. When that person returns directly to your site on Monday morning to buy the item, then the tracking cookie would not be there anymore, making it impossible to attribute the purchase to that specific marketing channel.
Which browsers have implemented ITP so far?
So far Apple's Safari and Firefox are the main browsers to implement ITP as a standard for users. With more investigations into tech companies and their data collection, I think it's fair to assume that ITP is just the beginning of a number of measures set to be taken against online data collection.
Interested in reading more about the subject? Check out these useful links: