Anti Tracking

Anti-Tracking on the Open Web: Is This Really a Solution?

Apple is known for making aggressive moves against ad tracking on Safari. They started in 2015 by adding an ad blocking feature to their web browser. Their latest feature addition to the upcoming Mac OS 11 is intelligent tracking prevention. Apple is taking aim at advertisers using targeted ad strategies, such as retargeting, and removing the cookies that are required to deliver relevant ads to users.


Many advertising and marketing groups are reaching out to Apple in an attempt to get the technology giant to reconsider the moves that it’s making. Apple may think that a strict anti-tracking stance is the key to improving user privacy, but it may run counter to their goal.


Invasive Ads Are the Real Issue


Invasive ads directly impact the user experience by making it difficult or impossible to continue with their web experience. Pop-ups were one of the biggest culprit years ago, and their modern form involves a lightbox-style ad with a tiny or non-existent X to close it. This category is much different from a relevant, targeted ad that doesn’t prevent them from using the website.


In fact, 77 percent of people prefer an ad-filtering approach rather than completely blocking all ads. The biggest reasons that they download ad blockers are to stop disruptive and intrusive ads from getting in the way of what they’re doing. If the ads follow best practices, then they don’t draw a strong negative reaction from users.


Niche Targeted Ads Are Preferable


Users encounter many marketing messages when they go online, but the irrelevant ones don’t enhance their experience. If Apple keeps their intelligent tracking prevention feature in-place, un-targeted ads are the only thing people will see.


Advertisers have the tools to deliver highly personalized ads to their target audiences, and 71 percent of people prefer this technique compared to other types. They get to see products they’re actually interested in buying or resources with additional information about things that they’ve researched previously.


Users can speed up their online shopping time when they know about the options they have available, get reminders about companies they’ve visited in the past and have an easy way to learn about new product releases.


Shifting the Monetization Goal Posts

Personalized ads have a lot of benefits for the consumers and businesses involved. This technique doesn’t disrupt what the users are doing and allows publishers to have a way to monetize their content. Without the income stream available from online advertising, website owners and brands may end up turning to more disruptive ways of staying in business.


Apple’s approach also makes it difficult for smaller advertising and marketing companies to compete against Facebook and Google. These companies don’t need to leverage cookies to keep tabs on their users. They get tracking data from their logged-in users, which makes them one of the few places to get targeted ads.


A different approach is necessary to balance user privacy and allow advertising and marketing companies to continue using targeted ads. Intrusive ads have no place in the user experience, but consumers benefit from having customized messaging available. If other companies decide to follow in Apple’s footsteps, it will lead to a major shift in the advertising practices that companies need to use to reach their audiences.


December 4, 2017


Programmatic, Tech