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The Impact of ITP 2.1 on your digital advertising Retargeting

Apple launched ITP 2.1 at the end of March 2019, with the update affecting both third-party and first-party cookie data.

Here we give you the lowdown on how it can impact your digital advertising

What is ITP? 

Apple ITP, or Intelligent Tracking Prevention, is a feature that’s added to both the Safari and Firefox browsers that restricts the tracking of cookies, thereby limiting publishers and advertisers tracking users across domains. 

What is the latest update? 

In simple terms ITP 2.1, the latest update means that third-party cookies are blocked entirely, with first-party cookies automatically expiring after seven days. 

What does this mean? 

If first-party cookies expire after seven days, this means that a user that returns to your website after more than seven days will no longer be recognised as a returning user but will be classed as a new user. 

How does this differ to users that use Google Chrome as their primary browser? 

A first-party cookie from Google Analytics has an expiry date of two years. 

Will this impact my digital advertising? 

The first thing to note is that those that use Safari or Firefox as their primary browser make up approximately 45% of users. That means that you won’t be able to store nearly half of all users’ first-party cookie data for more than seven days. 

Factors you will need to consider and that will potentially require a revamped approach include how you segment your audience, the way that you report, your onsite A/B testing, and how you approach retargeting. 

Audience Segmentation 

For example, if you wish to segment your audience by new and existing customers, your existing customer audience will only recognise those customers that purchased within the last seven days. 


It’s likely that you’ll see a huge surge in unique visitors when looking at your website analytics. This is because your analytics tool will likely be counting one user as two unique users if they visit your site after a gap of seven days. 

Take the example of a user visiting your site three times in a month, with more than seven days in between visits; this means that your monthly reporting will show three unique users instead of one. 

A/B Testing 

If you’re using first-party cookies in your A/B testing for conversion rate optimisation, it’s key to show a returning user the same variation or personalised experience they saw during their last visit. 

However, if returning users do so after seven days, they’ll be viewed as a new user and could end up in another “bucket”, resulting in them seeing a different website version that provides them with a completely different and confusing experience. It may also skew your data too. 

Approach to Retargeting 

Once a user has landed on your site, you will continue to be able to retarget them as you would do with users of other web browsers. However, this will only be able to be done for seven days, as the cookie will be deleted after this time period. 

This doesn’t mean that you should stop retargeting as a tactic, as it’s an extremely valuable tool to engage with potential customers and help them on their path to purchase with you. It simply means that you need to get a little more creative with your approach to retargeting. 

To ensure that you engage with the same user with relevant and targeted ads, you would need to run a weekly ad (i.e. after seven days) to them to extend your retargeting to 14 days. To ensure that you have a better chance of seeing that customer again and making sure that they engage with your website during the time period, a more strategic approach would be to serve them with an ad every five days. This would provide the best chance of the cookie being extended and to enable the retargeting to be extended too. 

In order to make this a viable option and ensure that your users engage with your ads and return to your site within the seven day period, it’s crucial to ensure you do the following: 

Contact us to learn more about how ITP 2.1 may impact your approach to digital advertising and download our free retargeting guide to make sure you enhance the performance of your digital display. 

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