Advertisers worry about Apple’s new Safari cookie policy

Six major advertising trade organisations, including the 4A’s, American Advertising Federation, Association of National Advertisers, Data & Marketing Association, Interactive Advertising Bureau, and Network Advertising Alliance, released an open letter late last week outlining their concerns over Apple’s Safari 11 browser.

The browser would remove user-controlled cookie preferences for a set of arbitrary standards. The letter states:

In addition to blocking all third-party cookies (i.e. those set by a domain other than the one being visited), as the current version of Safari does, this new functionality would create a set of haphazard rules over the use of first-party cookies (i.e. those set by a domain the user has chosen to visit) that block their functionality or purge them from users’ browsers without notice or choice.

The Safari 11 installation is called ‘Intelligent Tracking Prevention’ and has marketers worried as advertisers depend on the collection of data via cookies.

Meanwhile, Apple has been focused on meeting consumer demand surrounding privacy concerns and bothersome advertising practices.

However, on certain issues, the tech giant is meeting advertisers halfway. For example, Apple originally planned to include a feature on its new operating system iOS 11 that would require apps to notify users when background accessing their location. The move to withdraw that feature was seen as a victory for app developers. Nevertheless, that should not release app developers from their responsibility to be transparent with users.

The latest cookie debate may not lead Apple to reverse its policy. That could be because traditional cookies on mobile devices aren’t very effective anyway. For starters, they do not exist in apps and with the majority of mobile time spent in apps cookie practices are becoming increasingly outdated.

Additionally, there’s been much debate about how future-proof cookies really are. As companies such as Facebook and Twitter begin to collect user phone numbers, it’s likely that they could become the new identifiers for programmatic ads as well.