Marketers Beware of Lost Cookies: The Data Impact of Safari and Firefox Tracking Prevention

By Luke Hardwick

June 20, 2019


Recently Safari announced its default Internet Tracking Prevention (ITP) and Firefox announced a similar feature — Enhanced Tracking Protection. These features each work differently, but have similar purposes and effects. Safari will now by default block all first-party and third-party tracking cookies, and Firefox will block all third-party tracking cookies. These changes are in response to a pretty pervasive push for more user privacy on the Internet — think also of GDPR and the upcoming CCPA (California Consumer Privacy Act) in the US. While Safari and Firefox now better protect their users as a default, this is causing a huge shift for advertisers, marketers, and web optimisation professionals. Any tag-based marketing tool will inherently depend on browser cookies to get the data it promises. With Safari ITP and Firefox Enhanced Tracking Protection, all of that data is at major risk.

Safari and Firefox users make up a significant swath of user segments (not to mention basically all iphone and ipad users). If you depend on browser-set tracking cookies, you won’t be able to rely on any data from these users. So, these tracking protection standards are going to seriously impede any optimisation program that doesn’t put user privacy  first.

What’s the Future for MarTech?

First, we’ve got to understand what exactly it is Safari and Firefox are trying to stop. Digiday has a great break down of Safari ITP. Both Safari and Firefox are really trying to stop cross-site tracking by third parties. The biggest perpetrators here are  Google and Facebook, but it also applies to tools you may use for retargeting ads, personalisation, or client-side optimisation.

Why is this such a big deal? For marketers, multi-touch attribution for targeted content is now impossible to do with tracking cookies on Safari. On Firefox,  third-parties who collect consumer data via cookies will be blocked. These third-party software solutions include but are not limited to those on this  list created by Disconnect. If you use a tool on that list, ads aren’t the only part of your marketing strategy that will suffer.

Any work you’ve done to optimise your digital presence will return a fraction of the value. Since cookies are automatically blocked or deleted from users browsers, your analytics will be inflated, making it look like you have more users than you do. All client-side tracking will have to move server-side. All of this work will necessarily either move to developers, who aren’t on the hook for the same business metrics, or just stop. Workarounds exist, but they all require pretty heavy lifting code and are fundamentally fragile. At the end of the day, you’re still not going to get the data you need.

SiteSpect Supports User Privacy And Protection

If you use a tag-based tool you’ll never get accurate data and never be able to truly optimise your customer experience on the client side. SiteSpect doesn’t set cookies in the browser at all, meaning it offers full data accuracy, personalisation, and A/B testing capabilities without interfering in user privacy.

These improved Internet safety features are going to leave a lot of marketers and digital optimisers in a quandary. How do you give users the experience they want without violating the privacy that they have a right to? SiteSpect is the only solution that provides comprehensive analytics and optimisation without interfering in user privacy. It is the only completely anonymous optimisation tool. SiteSpect has always been compliant with all privacy requirements, and will continue to do so. Provide your customers with the best possible experience, and the highest standards of security.

To learn more about how anti-tracking impacts your optimisation program, check out our ebook. To learn more about SiteSpect, visit our website.


Luke Hardwick

Luke Hardwick

Luke Hardwick is a Manager of Customer Success at SiteSpect, consulting for SiteSpect users on their optimization and personalization road maps and projects. Luke is based in London and has experience as an conversion rate optimization specialist across many softwares before landing at SiteSpect.

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