Why we’re all the losers in the battle between Google and Apple

Google and Apple have gone to war. Each side is focusing on their own business models, making browser changes that are ostensibly done in the name of ‘privacy’, but in fact, also are restricting user choice.

So what does this mean for brands that want to firstly deliver, and secondly track relevant, consented customer engagements across any browser or device?

By relying on current tracking mechanisms in display to try to deliver and then understand the value of attribution on both new and existing customer engagements, brands are struggling.

But why have we ended up caught between Google and Apple? And how can brands survive this war on data?

It’s been a tricky two years for attribution

It’s been a difficult couple of years for the display advertising industry. In 2017 Apple rolled out Intelligent Tracking Prevention (ITP), which limited the ability for website owners and advertising platforms to track users across domains by purging third party cookies after 30 days.

Taking things one step further, earlier this year Apple launched ITP 2.1, which caps the lifespan of first-party cookies to a maximum of seven days. Combine this with ITP 2.2 which now limits first party cookies to just 24 hours, marketeers are being blinded in Safari.

Google joined in the battle in May 2019 by announcing changes that enable Chrome users to delete cookies used for online ad targeting without losing first-party data. At the same time pitching a “Google Universal Browser ID” which will give them even more control over all advertising globally.

And then, of course, just to make things more interesting we have the data restrictions enforced by 2018’s GDPR and the upcoming ePR of 2020: The former focusing on a pseudonymous online identifier and the latter focusing on ‘non-essential cookies’ and therefore their usage in attribution and analytics. The recent Information Commissioner’s Office (ICO’s) guidance on the matter has confirmed that this is relevant now – no tracking without explicit consent.

Who is the biggest loser in the data battle?

Sadly, it’s everyone: the brands trying to advertise, their customers looking for products and offers they want, and the businesses like publishers who rely on advertising to support their free content model.

Research has already shown that customers actually prefer seeing relevant ads to irrelevant ones. However, it has also shown that without transparency about how this is delivered this perception can change. Advertising is the lifeblood of the internet’s free content model, and every brand knows that the right message, at the right time, with the appropriate relevancy delivers results and customer loyalty.

So, as long as it’s done transparently, why shouldn’t brands with the right legal means (explicit consent) deliver ads to customers who want to see them? And why shouldn’t businesses who rely on advertising be able to show relevant ads? As long as all three parties’ consent to it, it’s a win-win-win situation.

It’s time for a new approach in attribution across digital advertising. To learn more about what that approach is, and why it’s enabling brands to survive the battle between Google and Apple, download our free white paper.