What Marketers Should Know About the New Updates to Firefox and Safari

Two of the major web browsers are in the midst of changes that could drastically change both user experience and marketers’ abilities to deploy targeted ads and track campaigns.

Here’s the update:

Firefox’s New Default Setting Will Block Ad Trackers

Last Fall, Mozilla added what it dubbed “Tracking Protection” to its flagship browser, Firefox. When switched on, Tracking Protection blocks tracking on all user browsing activity by affecting cookies that hide in the background of your browsing sessions and follow your clicks. This means that users can opt to protect themselves from unknowingly passing on information about their internet behavior to third parties.

In an attempt to permanently eliminate slow webpage load time as a result of certain trackers as well as tackle cross-site tracking (the cause of ads “following” users around the Internet), Firefox has announced that Tracking Protection will soon become the default setting for all Firefox users.

Safari’s New Tool Will Limit Ability to Track Users Across Domains

Similar to Firefox’s update, Apple’s Safari browser is introducing functionality that also aims to block cookies and disable user tracking across domains. “Intelligent Tracking Prevention” is a new feature on Safari that aims to further protect users’ online privacy by changing the way Safari handles first-party cookies.

Essentially, any websites that load things like scripts or images across domains are classified according to a machine-learning algorithm, and cookies that those sites deposit are essentially sectioned off, preventing them from tracking the user starting 24 hours after they first interacted with the site.

What do These Changes Mean for Marketers?

What does all this mean for advertising, particularly on platforms like Google Ads? Google has responded to the Intelligence Tracking Prevention (ITP) tool in particular by changing how it captures and reports conversions within Google Ads, according to Apple’s own recommendations. To help with these changes, Google Analytics has created a new type of cookie, called _gac, which essentially changes third-party cookies (those that Apple’s new machine learning process would quarantine) to first-party cookies that conform to ITP’s rules.

So, if marketers have linked their Google Ads and Google Analytics campaigns, they won’t see any changes and will continue to record conversion data from Safari users. If they haven’t, they will notice that Google records the conversion activity only within that first 24-hour period.

Overall, it’s yet to be seen what overall effect these changes will have on marketers’ abilities. Perhaps this idea from tech CEO Chaitanya Chandrasekar is what matters most:

“Ultimately, one of the most important goals for any advertiser is relevance. When you send the right message to the right person at the right time, they’ll listen. But when you don’t, you run the risk of being filtered out […]. Advertisers will need to ensure they’re 100% compliant with these updated specifications or face very costly consequences.”