What is ITP 2.0?

An Apple power play.

ITP 2.0 is Apple’s latest missionary work to protect consumer privacy. Oh, and it is complete BS.

ITP or Intelligent Tracking Prevention is part of Apple’s latest Safari browser upgrade. It essentially blocks cookies from being set in the browser by anything but the first party domain. For example, only technologies on the adlingo.org domain or subdomain (ads.adlingo.org) would be allowed to be set. Any cookies attempting to be set by an adserver, data company, etc. would automatically be blocked.

Apple claims this is to prevent ad tech companies from being able to stalk a consumer around the internet and serve them remarketing ads. They allege that ad tech companies can recreate most, if not all, of a user’s browsing behaviors though the use of 3rd party cookies. Blocking cookies via ITP 2.0 is supposed to prevent that.

Here’s why it is ridiculous

  1. When has anyone ever been harmed by this? How has serving more relevant, less annoying ads to a consumer ever caused a person harm?

  2. Advertisers and their ad tech platforms only scratch the surface on what companies like Google and Facebook can do in terms of recreating a user’s browsing behavior.

  3. Consumers did not ask for this. People are not up in arms because their browsing behavior is being used to track ad effectiveness. Again, who has been harmed? No one.

  4. What about Apple? Apple knows an unholy amount about people based on their browser, laptop, phone, and app usage. Far more than some ads on the open Internet would be able to stitch together. Why isn’t Apple stripping similar capabilities from itself? Hmm.

One thing that is often overlooked is that advertising is why the Internet is free. While yes, you have to pay for your access to the Internet, the content on it is by and large free to access. The reason that the web has endless amounts of content is because advertising makes building that content profitable.

If content can not be adequately supported by advertising, the only alternative is subscription paywalls. Granted, many publishers have done well with paywalls, the majority of the web is open and free. The harder Apple makes it for advertisers to be able to quantify their return on ad spend, the less likely they are to spend on digital.

All of the major advertising industry groups have formally submitted complaints to Apple.

Here is a copy of the text in the letter sent to Apple by the major advertising industry bodies from back in 2017.

September 14, 2017

An Open Letter from the Digital Advertising Community

The undersigned organizations are leading trade associations for the digital advertising and marketing industries, collectively representing thousands of companies that responsibly participate in and shape today's digital landscape for the millions of consumers they serve.

We are deeply concerned about the Safari 11 browser update that Apple plans to release, as it overrides and replaces existing user-controlled cookie preferences with Apple's own set of opaque and arbitrary standards for cookie handling.

Safari's new "Intelligent Tracking Prevention" would change the rules by which cookies are set and recognized by browsers. 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 infrastructure of the modern Internet depends on consistent and generally applicable standards for cookies, so digital companies can innovate to build content, services, and advertising that are personalized for users and remember their visits. Apple's Safari move breaks those standards and replaces them with an amorphous set of shifting rules that will hurt the user experience and sabotage the economic model for the Internet.

Apple's unilateral and heavy-handed approach is bad for consumer choice and bad for the ad-supported online content and services consumers love. Blocking cookies in this manner will drive a wedge between brands and their customers, and it will make advertising more generic and less timely and useful. Put simply, machine-driven cookie choices do not represent user choice; they represent browser-manufacturer choice. As organizations devoted to innovation and growth in the consumer economy, we will actively oppose any actions like this by companies that harm consumers by distorting the digital advertising ecosystem and undermining its operations.

We strongly encourage Apple to rethink its plan to impose its own cookie standards and risk disrupting the valuable digital advertising ecosystem that funds much of today's digital content and services.

Signed,

American Association of Advertising Agencies (4A's)

American Advertising Federation (AAF)

Association of National Advertisers (ANA)

Data & Marketing Association (DMA)

Interactive Advertising Bureau (IAB)

Network Advertising Initiative (NAI)