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ITP 2.0, Safari, and Google Ads (formerly AdWords)

With the announcement from Apple last June about ITP 2.0, last fall we wrote about Intelligent Tracking Prevention; what it is, how it affects you, and what you can do as an advertiser or agency to work around the eventual release of Safari 12.0. Safari 12.0 will enforce ITP 2.0, and in a nutshell, prevent 3rd-party cookie tracking in the Safari browser. With Safari representing about half of all of the mobile web traffic in North America, the effects of this change will be substantial, specifically with regards to tracking inside of a platform such as Google Ads (formerly Google Adwords).

In short, some, or all, conversion tags created in Google Ads will not be able to track any conversions in Safari, once Safari 12.0 is released.

What it Means for You

Given the popularity of Apple mobile devices, blocking 3rd-party cookies in Safari 12.0 has the potential to have massive ramifications on conversion tracking. This is especially true for clients who are optimizing campaigns based off of predominantly mobile conversion events, like a click-to-call event. How big? We have one client that receives 38% of their conversion activity from Safari-related events (either online web form submissions or click-to-call conversion events). In other words, when Safari 12.0 is released, if the client does not switch to tracking supported by Safari 12.0, 38% of all conversion activity will disappear!

How to Fix It

Luckily, Google has made fixing the issue fairly straightforward. All that needs to be done is to update your previous Google Ads conversion pixels with a new, sitewide tag from Google. Sitewide tags, such as gtag.js and Google Tag Manager will measure conversions via a first-party cookie, which is served out of the advertisers domain, and is therefore compliant with ITP 2.0.

Global GTAG Example

Event Example

Call Tracking Example

Next steps

To continue measuring conversions from all browsers, it's important to partner with your advertisers on this update and make changes where necessary. This will help ensure their tags can handle the shift in the industry ecosystem when Safari 12.0 rolls out.

Google strongly recommends replacing legacy conversion tags with a sitewide tag solution as soon as possible to ensure that you or your advertisers can continue to accurately measure conversions in Google Ads.

As with existing conversion tracking tags, please ensure you're providing users with clear and comprehensive information about data collection, and obtaining consent where legally required.